Dominic Raab, the UK’s foreign secretary, suggested the potential course of action at a Foreign Affairs Select Committee meeting yesterday. China has faced growing pressure from the international community over the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
There are reports of as many as one million of the ethnic population being detained in what are called ‘re-education camps’.
Mr Raab said it was “clear that there is evidence of serious and egregious human rights violations” against the community.
He added: “I think the concerns of what’s happening to the Uighurs – the detention, the mistreatment, the forced sterilisation – is something that we cannot just turn away from.
Dominic Raab has said the UK ‘cannot just turn away’ from the Uighur Muslim abuses in China
“But obviously we want to gather the evidence carefully and work very closely with our international partners.
“And that’s what we’re doing, as I’ve said. We have led the way, not just in the human rights council, but in the third committee in the UN and will continue to do so.”
Asked whether the UK would refuse to take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the foreign secretary suggested this could be the case.
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Mr Raab said the UK would remove itself from the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 over the abuse concerns
He said his “instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics”.
However, he added: “But there comes a point where that may not be possible. I would say let’s gather the evidence, let’s work with our international partners, let’s consider in the round what further action we need to take.”
Last month, French president Emmanuel Macron used his platform at the United Nations General Assembly to call for an international investigation to China’s Xinjiang region, where the abuse is said to take place.
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What is believed to be an Uighur Muslim re-education facility called Artux City in Xinjiang, China, where Muslims are detained
He said France has “requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority.”
In addition, Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, has been an outspoken figure on China’s alleged human rights abuses this year.
A protester calling on the EU to step up to the human rights abuses in China, 2018
In June, Mr Pompeo called on China to “immediately end these horrific practices and ask all nations to join the United States in demanding an end to these dehumanising abuses”.
He pointed to a report by German researcher Adrian Zenz, published by the US Jamestown Foundation think tank, which claimed natural population growth rates in two of the largest Uighur regions in China’s Xinjiang area had fallen by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018, according to Reuters.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, has called on the UN to launch an international mission to Xinjiang to investigate the abuse claims
Most recently, in a speech at a religious freedom symposium held in Rome at the end of last month, Mr Pompeo said: “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today.”
China has previously hit back at Dominic Raab for his statements about the treatment of Uighurs in the country.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been outspoken about the abuses
In July, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the allegations: “nothing but slanders and smears.”
Mr Wenbin claimed: “the population of Uighurs in Xinjiang grew from 5.55 million to 11.65 million over the past four decades”.