European Parliament Urges Sanctions on Chinese Officials Over Uyghur Abuse

European Parliament Urges Sanctions on Chinese Officials Over Uyghur Abuse
Flags of the European Union fly outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on May 11, 2016. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Alexander Zhang

The European Parliament has called for EU sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the abuse of Uyghurs and to ban Chinese imports tainted with forced labor.

The “European Parliament resolution on forced labor and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” was passed with an overwhelming majority on Thursday, with 604 in favor, 20 against, and 57 abstentions.

The resolution regretted the fact that “the approach taken and the tools used by the EU so far have not yielded tangible progress in China’s human rights record, which has only deteriorated over the last decade.”

It urged the European Union to “swiftly evaluate the adoption of sanctions” against Chinese officials and state-led entities responsible for the mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, for the use of forced labor, and for the repression of religious freedom and other basic rights not just in Xinjiang but also in other parts of China.

The European Parliament resolution follows the EU’s landmark decision on Dec. 7 to establish a global Magnitsky sanctions regime, enabling the bloc to target individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses.

The Parliament also urged the EU to ban the import of products linked to severe human rights violations such as forced labor or child labor.

A think tank report published on Monday revealed that at least 570,000 Uyghurs were forced to pick cotton in Xinjiang through the Chinese regime’s coercive labor training and transfer scheme.
“Evidence of forced Uyghur labor within Xinjiang, and in other parts of China, is credible, it is growing and deeply troubling to the UK government,” Britain’s foreign office minister Nigel Adams told the UK parliament on Wednesday.

Xinjiang produces 85 percent of China’s and 20 percent of the world’s cotton, which is widely used throughout the global fashion industry and its supply chains.

In July, the United States imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses against Uyghurs, including the Xinjiang region’s Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who is a member of the CCP’s powerful Politburo.
The Trump administration on Dec. 2 banned cotton imports from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a Chinese quasi-military organization.
Xiaofei Chen, Eva Fu, and Reuters contributed to this report.