Dominic Raab made a statement
on Tuesday about the human rights abuses in Xinjiang against Uyghur muslims. Quite incredibly (to my cynical mind at least) he actually acknowledged that abuses were taking place,
The evidence of the scale and severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated in Xinjiang against the Uyghur Muslims is now far-reaching. It paints a truly harrowing picture. Violations include the extrajudicial detention of over 1 million Uyghurs and other minorities in political re-education camps; extensive and invasive surveillance targeting minorities; systematic restrictions on Uyghur culture, education and, indeed, on the practice of Islam; and the widespread use of forced labour. The nature and conditions of detention violate basic standards of human rights. At their worst, they amount to torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, alongside widespread reports of the forced sterilisation of Uyghur women...
Internment camps, arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilisation —all on an industrial scale. It is truly horrific—barbarism we had hoped was lost to another era is being practised today, as we speak, in one of the leading members of the international community.
He says, quite rightly, that,
We have a moral duty to respond.
He laid out four steps the government is taking to ensure that no UK business profits from forced labour in Xinjiang. Though I note there is nothing in there about pressuring China to actually stop their human rights abuses. He says,
The UK has already played a leading role within the international community in the effort to shine a light on the appalling treatment of the Uyghurs and to increase diplomatic pressure on China to stop and to remedy its actions. I have made my concerns over Xinjiang clear directly to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. We have led international joint statements on Xinjiang in the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee and the UN Human Rights Council. In the Third Committee, we brought the latest statement forward together with Germany in October last year and it was supported by 39 countries.
All of which was clearly ineffective as these abuses are still ongoing. He just says,
But we must do more, and we will.
What we will do, I'm not really sure. They want to stop businesses profiting from slave labour which is a good thing, but seems a surprisingly narrow focus given the scale of this problem. You can't call it barbarism and then say "so we'll stop supply chains that lead back to that barbarism". I'm not naive enough to think we'll ever place sanctions on China but I do wish there was more that we could do.