Xinjiang forced labour issue may hit China’s investment agreement with EU

Beijing’s plans to have investment agreements with the European Union (EU) member states is under threat with the European Parliament (EP) passing a resolution on forced labour and the condition of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
“Labour rights in China is a hot potato, particularly given the parliament’s recent urgent resolution on Xinjiang. If there are no proper commitments on International Labour Organisation, then it will be extremely difficult,” a source with knowledge of the thinking of both the EU Parliament and the European Commission said.
On December 18, the EP passed a resolution on forced labour and the condition of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) while calling on the EU to proactively work towards an independent UN inquiry on China with a view to ensuring accountability for the crimes committed.
“The situation in Xinjiang, where more than 10 million Muslim Uyghurs and Kazakhs live, has rapidly deteriorated, particularly since the launch of the Chinese Government’s ‘Strike Hard against Violent Terrorism’ campaign in 2014”, said an EP resolution.
It added: “Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitalised surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored — through facial recognition cameras, mobile phone scans, the large-scale illegal collection, aggregation and processing of personal data”.
The resolution said there has been a general strengthening of the Chinese regime and a toughening of the treatment of minorities, in particular of Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians, with the aim of assimilating them through the imposition of the Chinese majority lifestyle and communist ideology.
As per reports, more than one million people are detained in what are being called ‘political re-education’ centres, in the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic minority population in the world.
The EP observed that the Chinese authorities are systematically subjecting Uyghur women of childbearing age to forced abortions, intrauterine injections and sterilisation, with 80 per cent of all new intrauterine device (IUD) placements in China in 2018 performed in the Uyghur region, despite the fact that it makes up only 1.8 percent of China’s population; whereas such measures to prevent births within the Uyghur population could meet the criteria for belonging to the worst crimes against humanity.

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