Tory MP lambasts China's "shameful spiel" on treatment of Uighur Muslims

20 July 2020, 17:53

By Fiona Jones

Conservative MP and Foreign Affairs Committee member Alicia Kearns branded China's "tired spiel" that the Uighur people are living in utopia as "shameful."

The UK will suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong amid fears over the new China-imposed security law, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced.

Mr Raab voiced concerns for Hong Kongers after the new law and, separately, the state's "gross human rights abuse" of Uighur Muslims.

The Chinese ambassador was interviewed on Sunday after new drone footage showed the torture of the Uighurs in "re-education camps"; he completely denied the validity of the video.

Foreign Affairs Committee member Alicia Kearns branded the interview "shameful."

"It was full of veiled threats and failed efforts at what he was pretending was transparency.

"There's a really tired spiel that's going on that might work in China where they have state-controlled media but doesn't work abroad where the Chinese government is trying to suggest some type of utopia going on, that they're a tech hub of utopia.

"That the Uighur people are living in some kind of tourism hot was very clear that when you try to deal in half truths and pretend that a genocide isn't true, essentially you always fall flat on your face."

The MP confirmed to Shelagh that the maltreatment of the Uighur people has been a "continuous concern" for the UK government and allies, with the UK bringing forward the first human rights statement at the UN in June.

"Until the last year or so when we've been able to access video footage and evidence to prove what's going on in China, it's been very difficult for international media to come together with solid statements," Ms Kearns told Shelagh.

Just as Dominic Raab emphasised in his Commons statement, Ms Kearns said cutting off all business with China would "not be a productive way to go forward" because ending up in an era of frozen relations would mean the UK would lose all influence over the country.

Ms Kearns said there will be an ongoing balancing act with China and suggested they may impose punitive measures in response to the extradition suspension.

China compartmentalises conversation on business and human rights, which gives the UK the opportunity to work with them in some ways and "push them in the right direction."