Genocide

Singapore PM sees considerable risk of severe U.S.-China tensions – BBC interview

Singapore PM sees considerable risk of severe U.S.-China tensions - BBC interview

 

 
People vote in Singapore’s general election amid Covid-19

·1 min read

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there was considerable risk of tensions between China and the United States becoming severe, and that while a military conflict was more likely than it was five years ago, the odds were not high.

Relations between the United States and China sank to their lowest point in decades under former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, with Beijing pushing for greater global influence in a challenge to traditional U.S. leadership.

“It is more likely than it was five years ago, but I think the odds of a military clash are not yet high,” Lee said in an interview with BBC that aired on Sunday.

“But the risk of severe tensions, which will raise the odds later on, I think that is considerable.”

The United States and China are sparring over influence in the Indo-Pacific region, Beijing’s economic practices, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and human rights issues in China’s Xinjiang region. President Joe Biden’s administration has committed to reviewing elements of U.S. policies toward China.

Top diplomats from both nations are set to meet in Alaska on March 18 in the first high-level, in-person contact between the two countries under the Biden administration.

Singapore has close ties with both countries, and the tiny but wealthy nation wields strong economic and political influence in the region.

Lee said it was not possible for Singapore to choose between the United States and China.

When asked about the risk of a military conflict, he said: “It could happen before you expect it, if there is a mishap. If the countries are careful, it will not happen.”

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Tom Hogue)

A child screams in Myanmar … and China pretends not to hear

A child screams in Myanmar … and China pretends not to hear

 

The country’s global standing is plunging as Xi Jinping attempts to whitewash atrocities in the name of empire-building

Shwe Yote Hlwar with the body of her father
Shwe Yote Hlwar with the body of her father who died during a demonstration against the military coup. Photograph: AFP/Getty
Sun 14 Mar 2021 03.30 EDT

Aterrible scream of pain contorts a little girl’s face and tells the story of the army’s brutal crackdown in Myanmar. Shwe Yote Hlwar, five, is standing beside an open coffin containing the body of her father, Ko Zwe Htet Soe, shot dead by security forces.

Her face is a picture of searing, bottomless grief. Women try to help. But there is no comforting her. Who can explain her dad’s needless killing? Who can say why men in uniform think it’s OK to do such things?
Shwe’s agonised scream is that of an entire nation. It echoes around the world.

 

Some hear it, many do not. At the UN security council last week, China, backed by Russia, India and Vietnam, again blocked outright condemnation of last month’s military coup and stymied a UK-authored move towards punitive sanctions.

China’s is the vote that matters most. It has invested billions in Myanmar as part of President Xi Jinping’s imperial Belt and Road plans. This, rather than outrage over the army’s “killing spree”, to quote Amnesty International, determines his policy.

It’s true China is not directly to blame for the dozens of civilian deaths and thousands of arrests and beatings. It’s probable Xi would have preferred Myanmar’s elected, Beijing-friendly leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to remain in charge.

The coup leader, Gen Min Aung Hlaing, has accused China in the past of conspiring with ethnic insurgents. He’s no big chum. But Xi would rather stick with him than risk more instability. And he would rather face international opprobrium than help restore democratic rights that are anathema to China’s communist party.

In short, in Myanmar and elsewhere, the CCP is learning that empire-building is problematic and can incur high reputational costs. Grand designs for global hegemony invite escalating global pushback. This is what Xi’s characteristic brand of arrogance and aggression is now producing on a range of fronts.

Anti-China sentiment is never far from the surface in Myanmar. People there regard their giant neighbour in much the same way Poles or Estonians regard Russia. But with Beijing defending homicidal generals, that latent hostility is finding public expression.

There are boycotts of Chinese businesses. Chinese officials are alarmed by threats on social media to blow up a key Belt and Road pipeline project linking China to the Bay of Bengal, the independent Irrawaddy website reported.

Yet since China views the coup as an “internal matter”, protesters note sarcastically, sabotage of its assets would be a purely internal matter, too.

Accustomed to manipulating news at will, China’s bosses pretend this crisis isn’t happening, that awful crimes are not occurring daily. They seem not to realise that in the world beyond their censors, there is an ever diminishing chance of permanently hiding or denying such atrocities, wherever they occur.

It’s a lesson Xi has signally failed to absorb over Xinjiang. A detailed, independent US report last week confirmed that his regime has repeatedly breached the UN genocide convention in its horrific mistreatment of Uighurs.

Yet still Beijing persists in issuing grotesque statements flatly denying filmed and documented evidence of gross abuse. Its lies would be funny if they were not so egregious. Simultaneously, it traduces independent, fact-based journalism – and whinges mightily when Britain’s ambassador stresses its importance.

This sorry crew of party hacks and throwbacks must wake up. Polls show that China’s international standing is plummeting. Feelings of animosity and enmity grow. The ever more sophisticated, connected global audience scrutinising its daily actions is not so easily bamboozled as, say, its rural masses, held in check by starvation wages, propaganda and fear.

If Xi wants the respect traditionally afforded a great power, he must act responsibly in crises such as Myanmar, come clean on crimes in Xinjiang and Tibet, stop bullying the neighbours, and cease spewing silly lies as if he can somehow create an alternative reality.

Hong Kong is another unwilling stage for his black-hearted theatre of the unreal – and another focal point of the anti-China backlash. Last week brought a new law denying elected office to candidates deemed “unpatriotic”.

To claim that Hong Kong, under such a system, may still be styled a democracy is to insult everyone’s intelligence. Perhaps the sycophantic cadres of the National People’s Congress believe it. They believe anything Xi tells them.

International pushback is building. Britain and partners weigh new sanctions. Hong Kong’s fleet-footed opposition is reassembling in exile. Pressure is rising in the US to unambiguously guarantee Taiwan’s defence. A top American admiral is urging new missile deployments along the “first island chain”.

Hi-tech firms such as Huawei are cold-shouldered. Developing countries balk at Beijing’s debt diplomacy. The containment alliance known as the Quad – the US, India, Australia and Japan – is reviving. China’s loud-mouthed “wolf warrior” diplomats daily compound the reputational damage. Foreign agents of influence, peddling the party line for cash and favours, face greater scrutiny.

The tide may be turning. Yet Xi’s China resembles a runaway train, a huge Make China Great Again locomotive that inexorably gathers momentum but lacks brakes. Regional analysts suggest Xi, the “new Mao”, is over-reaching, putting self-aggrandisement and personal legacy before national interest.

Others warn that the Xi era is feeding a nationalist-populist frenzy that cannot ultimately be controlled. It will end in tears, they say. Cooler, wiser heads in Beijing should calm things down while they can – or risk an almighty derailment.

This week will see the first foreign-minister-level meeting with the Biden administration. It’s a good moment for China’s leadership to get real, forgo geopolitical one-upmanship, and focus instead on boosting common goals and universal values.

Catching the men who murdered Shwe Yote Hlwar’s dad would be a good start.

Pentagon chief sees Asia ties as deterrent against China

Pentagon chief sees Asia ties as deterrent against China

 
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is kicking off a week-long trip to Asia
 
·2 min read

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday he was traveling to Asia to boost military cooperation with American allies and foster “credible deterrence” against China.

Austin kicked off via Hawaii, seat of the American military command for the Indo-Pacific region, his first foreign visits as Pentagon chief.

“This is all about alliances and partnerships,” he told reporters on the trip that is to include meetings with key allies in Tokyo, New Delhi and Seoul.

“It’s also about enhancing capabilities,” he added, recalling that while the United States was focused on the anti-jihadist struggle in the Middle East, China was modernizing its army at high speed.

“That competitive edge that we’ve had has eroded,” he said. “We still maintain that edge. We are going to increase that edge going forward.”

“Our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities and the operational plans… to be able to offer a credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the US,” he added.

Lloyd will be joined in Tokyo and Seoul by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“One of the things that the secretary of state and I want to do is begin to strengthen those alliances,” he said. “This will be more about listening and learning, getting their point of view.”

This tour in Asia of the heads of diplomacy and defense of the United States follows an unprecedented summit of the “Quad”, an informal alliance born in the 2000s to counterbalance a rising China.

Blinken will join President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, in Anchorage on March 18 with their Chinese counterparts Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi.

The Alaska talks will be the first between the powers since Yang met Blinken’s hawkish predecessor Mike Pompeo in June in Hawaii — a setting similarly far from the high-stakes glare of national capitals.

The Biden administration has generally backed the tougher approach to China initiated by former president Donald Trump, but has also insisted that it can be more effective by shoring up alliances and seeking narrow ways to cooperate on priorities such as climate change.

China, NKorea loom as Blinken, Austin head to Asia

China, NKorea loom as Blinken, Austin head to Asia

 
MATTHEW LEE
·5 min read

WASHINGTON (AP) — Threats from China and North Korea will loom large over the Biden administration’s first Cabinet-level trip abroad, part of a larger effort to bolster U.S. influence and calm concerns about America’s role in Asia.

A senior administration said Saturday that U.S. officials have tried to reach out to North Korea through multiple channels since last month, but have yet to receive a response, making consultations with the reclusive country’s neighbors, Japan, South Korea and China, all the more critical.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are heading to Japan and South Korea for four days of talks starting Monday as the administration seeks to shore up partnerships with the two key regional treaty allies. Blinken and Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will then meet with senior Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska,

 

Their first official overseas visits are intended to restore what Biden hopes will be a calming and even-keeled approach to ties with Tokyo and Seoul after four years of transactional and often temperamental relations under the previous president, Donald Trump. He had upended diplomatic norms by meeting not once, but three times, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In addition to their official talks, Blinken and Austin plan virtual meetings with journalists, civil-society members and others. After reassuring their counterparts of U.S. commitments to Japanese and South Korean security, they plan to focus their talks on cooperating to confront an increasingly assertive China, the nuclear challenge from North Korea and the coronavirus pandemic.

In his first months in office, Biden has already signaled his desire to return the Asia-Pacific — or Indo-Pacific, as has become more common in officialese — to the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. In keeping with his broader “America is back” diplomatic theme, Biden has pledged to keep stability in the region at the core of his international initiatives.

On Friday, Biden participated in a virtual summit with the leaders of India, Japan and Australia. “A free and open Indo-Pacific is essential,” Biden told his fellow members of the so-called Quad. “The United States is committed to working with you, our partners and all of our allies in the region to achieve stability.”

As part of that effort and “to reduce the risks of escalation,” the senior official said efforts had been made to connect with the North Koreans since mid-February, including through what is known as the “New York channel.” To date, the official said, “we have not received any response from Pyongyang.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic outreach.

As the administration plots its strategy, the official said it would continue to consult with the Japanese and South Koreans, as well as with the Chinese, and had also reached out to numerous former U.S. officials involved in North Korea policy, including from the Trump presidency.

Biden’s meeting with the Quad came less than a week after U.S. and South Korean negotiators overcame years of contentious discussions under Trump to reach a tentative deal on paying for the American troop presence in South Korea. That agreement, along with a similar one for Japan, will be front and center in Blinken and Austin’s meetings.

As he had done with allies in Europe, Trump threatened to reduce security cooperation unless host countries paid more, sparking fears of troop withdrawals at a time of particular uncertainty as China boosts efforts to dominate the region and North Korea’s nuclear weapons remain a major source of angst.

“Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy, and we are working to strengthen America’s relationships with our allies as well as the relationships among them,” said Sung Kim, a career diplomat who is the top U.S. diplomat for Asia. He served in the Philippines and Indonesia during the Trump administration and was also previously the special envoy for North Korea.

Yet, for all of Biden’s suggestions that he will reverse Trump’s overt hostility to China, he has yet to countermand a single one of his predecessor’s policies. He has, in fact, reaffirmed several of them, including maintaining sanctions in response to human rights abuses in western Xinjiang and Hong Kong and restating a Trump-era decision to reject outright nearly all of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

And, many of China’s policies that the U.S. finds objectionable — including its crackdown in Hong Kong, stepped up rhetoric against Taiwan and actions in the South China Sea — began during the Obama administration. The previous Democratic administration took office promising a “pivot to Asia” after a period of what many saw as American neglect for the region during George W. Bush’s presidency, which was consumed by the onset of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In fact, although some obvious circumstances have changed since 2009, Blinken and Austin’s trip mirrors in many ways the initial overseas journey of President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, when she traveled to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and then China in a bid to re-assert U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific. Obama’s engagement with China, however, did not produce the desired results, and the North Korean threat grew.

Although China is not on Blinken’s itinerary, after wrapping up the stop in Seoul, he will fly back to Washington via Anchorage, Alaska, where he and Sullivan, will meet senior Chinese officials. Austin, meanwhile, while fly from Seoul to New Delhi, where he’ll meet top Indian leaders.

Still, the administration is convinced that its domestic efforts to revitalize the U.S, economy and step up the fight against COVID-19 have put it in a better position both to blunt Chinese ambitions directly and leverage its partnerships to do the same.

“After the work of the past 50 days, Secretary Blinken and I will enter the meeting with senior Chinese representatives from a position of strength,” Sulllivan said on Friday.

How that strength will play with rivals like China and North Korea, let alone allies like Japan and South Korea, remains to be seen.

Exclusive: Uighurs harassed and abused by Beijing in UK, minister admits

Exclusive: Uighurs harassed and abused by Beijing in UK, minister admits

Christopher Hope

·4 min read
 
 
Chinese flag behind razor wire at a housing compound in Yangisar, south of Kashgar - Greg Baker/AFP
 
Chinese flag behind razor wire at a housing compound in Yangisar, south of Kashgar – Greg Baker/AFP

The Government has admitted for the first time that Uighurs are being targeted by China on British soil “in an effort to intimidate them into silence”.

The problem is now so serious that it risks becoming a diplomatic incident after ministers complained directly to the Chinese embassy in London.

On Saturday night the Foreign Office urged British Uighurs to call the police immediately if they felt they were being intimidated by Chinese officials.

Concerns about intimidation of British Uighurs on UK soil by Chinese officials were first exposed in The Telegraph last August.

The latest development was condemned by campaigners who demanded greater protection for British Uighurs from Chinese intimidation on UK soil.

More than a dozen MPs are expected to write to the House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on Monday to demand an urgent question in the House of Commons.

It comes after global experts last week accused the Chinese government of violating every provision in the United Nations genocide convention for its treatment of the estimated 12 million Uighurs in Xinjiang province.

However, official confirmation of the UK Government’s concerns was set out in an overlooked written answer in Parliament last week.

Nigel Adams, a Foreign Office minister, said: “We are aware of reports of members of the Uighur diaspora – including in the UK – being harassed by the Chinese authorities in an effort to intimidate them into silence, force them to return to China, or co-opt them into providing information on other Uighurs.

“The Government regards such activity as unacceptable and has raised our concerns directly with the Chinese Embassy in London.

“The FCDO continues to monitor the situation closely and we urge anyone affected in the UK to contact the police.”

A Foreign Office source added: “We are in regular discussions with the Chinese embassy including on issues of concern.”

China continues to harass exiles on British soil, claim victims
 
China continues to harass exiles on British soil, claim victims

The scale of intimidation is laid bare by Rahima Mahmut, the UK director for the World Uighur Congress, in an article for The Telegraph in which she told how “today Uighurs in Britain are silenced”.

She said: “One British Uighur woman revealed how she received text messages everyday from Chinese police forces urging her to spy on the lives of her other Uighur in the UK.

“The texts would always contain the ominous warning: ‘remember your mother and your sisters are with us’”.

A British Uighur student told how she was called to the Chinese Embassy in London and “pressured into writing an opinion piece for a newspaper declaring there to be no re-education camps in Xinjiang”.

Ms Mahmut said the student was told: “Remember, your mother and other family members are still in China.”

Ms Mahmut also says the UK should ban “goods made from Uighur forced labour”. The Uighur region produces 20 per cent of the world’s cotton.

She added that the Government should stop blocking “the ‘genocide amendment’ to the Trade Bill – a move which would see a panel of British judges giving an impartial legal opinion on the alleged abuses”.

Labour MP Afzal Khan, the vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Uighurs, told The Telegraph: “Reports now show that Chinese officials are intimidating Uighurs into silence after speaking out.

“The Government must raise this urgent matter with Chinese officials and offer witnesses protection to ensure they are able to testify safely, without fear, about the atrocities suffered.

“It is unacceptable that members of the Uighur diaspora in the UK and elsewhere are faced with harassment and abuse.

“Words of condemnation by the Government are not enough, action is desperately needed.”

The Chinese Embassy in London did not respond to several requests for comment from The Telegraph.

Last August The Telegraph told how Simon Cheng Man-kit, a former British consulate employee in Hong Kong who was tortured by Chinese secret police, said he had been followed at least three times in the last two weeks.

Mr Cheng, who has been granted asylum in the UK, has been vocal about eroding freedoms in Hong Kong.

A threatening email also arrived in Mr Cheng’s inbox saying in the subject line “Chinese agents will find you and bring you back”.

Separately Dominic Raab on Saturday said China was not complying with the Sino-British Joint Declaration after Beijing’s latest move to tighten control over Hong Kong with new powers to crack down on the pro-democracy movement.

He said the move was part of a “pattern designed to harass and stifle all voices critical of China’s policies” and marked the third breach of the legally binding Joint Declaration in less than nine months.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984.

Bill Maher Warns: China Is Dominating US Because ‘Nothing Ever Moves in This Impacted Colon of a Country’ (Video)

Bill Maher Warns: China Is Dominating US Because ‘Nothing Ever Moves in This Impacted Colon of a Country’ (Video)

 
Rosemary Rossi
·2 min read

Bill Maher had some rather harsh words for the good ol’ U.S. of A. on Friday night’s “Real Time,” saying that China is overtaking our place on the world stage because Americans are busy obsessing over culture wars and not doing anything productive.

“You’re not going to win the battle for the 21st century if, you are a silly people, and Americans are a silly people,” Maher said, citing a quote from “Lawrence of Arabia” that as long as they stay a bunch of squabbling tribes, we will remain a silly people.

“Well, we’re the silly people now,” he said. “You know, who doesn’t care that there’s a stereotype of a Chinese man in a Dr. Seuss book? China. All 1.4 billion of them could give a crouching tiger, flying f— because they’re not a silly people. If anything, they are as serious as a prison fight.”

Also Read: Maher Doesn’t Buy Everything Meghan Markle Said in Oprah Interview (Video)

He went on: “Look, we all know China does bad stuff. They break promises about Hong Kong autonomy, they put Uighurs in camps and punish dissent. And we don’t want to be that. But there’s got to be something between authoritarian government that tells everyone what to do and a representative government that can’t do anything at all.”

“In two generations, China has built 500 entire cities from scratch, moved the majority of their huge population from poverty to the middle class and mostly cornered the market in 5g and pharmaceuticals,” he said. “In China alone, they have 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail. America has… none. Our fastest train is the tram that goes around the zoo.”

Maher pointed out that the US has had “infrastructure week every week since 2009, but we never do anything.” Why? Because of the endless culture war.

Also Read: Bill Maher Is Over Being Reminded of Things Like Cancer and That Black Lives Matter (Video)

“Half the country is having a never-ending woke competition deciding whether Mr. Potato Head has a d— and the other half believes we have to stop the lizard people because they’re eating babies,” he said, referring to a QAnon conspiracy theory.

“Nothing ever moves in this impacted colon of a country!” he said. “We see a problem and we ignore it, lie about it, fight about it, endlessly litigate it, sunset clause it, kick it down the road and then write a bill where a half-assed solution doesn’t kick in for 10 years. China sees a problem and they fix it. They build a dam; we debate what to rename it.”

You can watch Maher’s entire “New Rules” segment above.

Read original story Bill Maher Warns: China Is Dominating US Because ‘Nothing Ever Moves in This Impacted Colon of a Country’ (Video) At TheWrap

“I Was a Teacher in a Concentration Camp”: Women and the Uyghur Genocide

“I Was a Teacher in a Concentration Camp”: Women and the Uyghur Genocide

Huawei listed anew as threat to US national security

Huawei listed anew as threat to US national security

 
Ren Zhengfei holding a phone: Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei had called for a reset in ties with the US after falling foul of former president Donald Trump, but the Biden administration has listed his company as a potential national security threat© JESSICA YANG Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei had called for a reset in ties with the US after falling foul of former president Donald Trump, but the Biden administration has listed his company as a potential national security threat

A roster of communications companies thought to pose “an unacceptable risk” to national security included Huawei Technologies; ZTE; Hytera Communications; Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.

“This list is a big step toward restoring trust in our communications networks,” said Federal Communications Commission acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

“This list provides meaningful guidance that will ensure that as next-generation networks are built across the country, they do not repeat the mistakes of the past or use equipment or services that will pose a threat to US national security or the security and safety of Americans.”

The five Chinese companies that provide communications equipment or services were on a roster compiled by the FCC and the Homeland Security Bureau as per US law.

Huawei chief and founder Ren Zhengfei last month called for a reset with the United States under President Joe Biden, after the firm was battered by sanctions imposed by Donald Trump’s administration.

In his first appearance before journalists in a year, Ren Zhengfei said his “confidence in Huawei’s ability to survive has grown” despite its travails across much of the western world where it is maligned as a potential security threat. 

Video: China approves plan to veto Hong Kong election candidates (AFP)

The comments came as the firm struggled under rules that have effectively banned US firms from selling it technology such as semiconductors and other critical components, citing national security concerns.

Insisting that Huawei remained strong and ready to buy from US companies, Ren called on the Biden White House for a “mutually beneficial” change of tack that could restore its access to the goods.

Continuing to do so, he warned, would hurt US suppliers.

Founded by Ren in 1987, Huawei largely flew under the global radar for decades as it became the world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment and a top mobile phone producer.

That changed under former president Donald Trump, who targeted the firm as part of an intensifying China-US trade and technology standoff.

Trump from 2018 imposed escalating sanctions to cut off Huawei’s access to components and bar it from the US market, while he also successfully pressured allies to shun the firm’s gear in their telecoms systems.

Ren also has had to deal with the December 2018 arrest of his daughter, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, on a US warrant during a Vancouver stopover.

Meng, 49, faces fraud and conspiracy charges in the United States over alleged Huawei violations of US sanctions against Iran, and separate charges of theft of trade secrets.

Boris Johnson facing major Conservative rebellion in Commons over ‘genocide amendment’ row

Boris Johnson facing major Conservative rebellion in Commons over ‘genocide amendment’ row

Ashley Cowburn

·5 min read
 
 (via REUTERS)
 
(via REUTERS)

Boris Johnson is facing a major Conservative rebellion unless ministers accept the so-called genocide amendment that aims to prevent trade deals with countries deemed to be committing atrocities.

It follows a third crushing defeat for the government in the House of Lords over the issue that has been given renewed focus amid international outcry over allegations of human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang province.

The Independent has been told that at least 30 Tory MPs could defy the whip when the Trade Bill returns to the Commons on 22 March — potentially threatening the prime minister’s considerable majority.

Spearheaded by the crossbench peer Lord Alton, the original proposal would have forced ministers to review any bilateral trade agreements with countries the High Court had determined to have committed acts of genocide.

After the government narrowly avoided defeat in January, the fresh amendment has stripped out mention of the High Court and instead calls for the creation of a “parliamentary judicial committee” of five members of the Lords who have held senior positions in the judiciary.

The body would examine claims of abuses and make a “preliminary determination” on whether there is sufficient evidence that a country party to a trade agreement with Britain has carried out genocide. If a determination is made a minister must respond to parliament and the government would be under immense pressure to review any trading relationship.

Speaking to The Independent, the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, said: “Many MPs in the Commons who weren’t sure, didn’t want to vote for a court of law, see that this is a compromise. This is the right way to go”.

The senior MP, who has held discussions with senior ministers over the issue, added: “It’s a compromise that utilises the incredible skills and experience of the Lords by using retired law Lords — you can’t get anybody better to sift evidence and to understand it.

“It’s not a court, so the government’s concern about it going to a court is met. It stays in parliament. They kept saying we voted for Brexit so parliament will be stronger — answer is parliament will be stronger.”

Imran Khan, a member of the 2019 intake of Tory MPs who is considering voting for the measure, added: “I am a really, truly loyal Conservative who supports the prime minister with great enthusiasm and it causes me great personal grief and torment to be divergent on a matter of policy with a government I support.”

While the amendment does not specifically mention China, Tory MPs have become increasingly vocal about the treatment of the Uighur people. Despite denials from Chinese authorities, the United States has accused Beijing of genocide while the BBC, which is now banned in country, has reported allegations of women in “re-education” camps being systematically raped, sexually abused and tortured.

Nusrat Ghani — a former government minister who is supporting the amendment — asked: “We have tremendous world-leading standards on the environment, on dealing with animal welfare, why would we not have world leading standards to ensure that we’re not offering preferential trade deals with genocidal states?”.

Another Tory MP backing the measure, Bob Blackman, said: “We’ve got to be very cautious about trading with countries, such as China, when they treat the Uighur Muslims in such a disgraceful way.

“The sort of compromise we’ve suggested is one that I think everyone should be able to live with.”

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy claimed that the despite ministers’ “tough talk” on China the government was “privately talking up the prospects of a free trade deal” with Beijing.

She told The Independent: “When the amendment returns to the Commons later this month, MPs from all sides will have an opportunity to send a clear message to the world that genocide can never be met with indifference, impunity or inaction. It is time for the government to show moral leadership and be unequivocal in our commitment to upholding human rights.”

However, No 10 has shown no sign of agreeing to the compromise amendment and when it was being debated in the upper chamber last month, minister Lord Grimstone claimed the “establishment of an ad hoc parliamentary judicial committee would represent a fundamental constitutional reform”.

“It would blur the distinction between courts and parliament and upset the constitutional separation of powers,” he claimed. “Ultimately, the question of how we respond to concerns of genocide as it relates to our trade policy is a political question”.

Referring to Dominic Raab’s speech last month in which he hit out the “industrial scale” of abuse against the Uighur people, Lord Alton, who proposed the revised amendment, said: “You’ve got the foreign secretary making a superb speech to the UN human rights council saying this is on an industrial scale and describing in shocking terms and accurately the torture, the forced labour, the forced sterilisation of women, saying it’s extreme and extensive.

“Meanwhile you’ve got the resumption of restoring trade arrangements with China, which were suspended in the aftermath of what happened in Hong Kong.”

He added: “This is all tied with this conflict that goes on within government, where part of government still believes we’ve got a golden age opportunity with China as part of George Osborne’s legacy and you’ve got another part of it — Dominic Raab and others — saying what is happening in Xinjiang is comparable to things that we thought we’d never see again.”

Read More

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Boris Johnson refuses to back Trump and Biden teams in calling Uighur situation ‘genocide’

Women systematically raped and tortured in Uighur ‘re-education’ camps, says report

IOC under fire after ‘dismissing’ claims of genocide against Uighurs in China

IOC under fire after ‘dismissing’ claims of genocide against Uighurs in China

 
  • Growing calls for boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Games
  • ‘IOC hedge behind political neutrality when it comes to China’
The IOC president, Thomas Bach, said Olympic boycotts have never achieved anything.
The IOC president, Thomas Bach, said Olympic boycotts have never achieved anything. Photograph: Greg Martin/OIS/IOC/AFP/Getty Images
 

The International Olympic Committee is facing fresh criticism from human rights groups who have accused it of hiding behind political neutrality to stage the Beijing Winter Olympics in a country that is “actively committing a genocide”.

A number of representatives of the No Beijing 2022 campaign said on Friday that they had met the IOC last October to give detailed insight into the abuses being faced by Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, as well as in Hong Kong and Tibet, and urge them to move the Games – but left feeling the IOC had “completely dismissed our experiences and sufferings”.

 

More than one million Uighurs are believed to be in re-education camps, and on Thursday the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, confirmed that “the genocide against Uighur Muslims” is something that would be a topic of discussion when US officials meet China directly next week.

There have been growing calls for a boycott of Beijing 2022 because of the human rights abuses. But Zumretay Arkin, the program and advocacy manager at the World Uyghur Congress, said the IOC had dismissed her concerns.

 
IOC reveals China has offered vaccines to Tokyo and Beijing Olympic athletes
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“When we met with the IOC in October, we asked them to listen to our voices but instead they completely dismissed our experiences and sufferings,” she said. “They conveniently hedge behind political neutrality when it comes to China.

“They also repeatedly told us that the IOC’s mission was to create a better world – a world with absolutely no discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation,” she added. “A better world to us means a free and democratic world where there are no camps, no forced labour, no cultural and religious repression, no arbitrary arrest, no police brutality. A better world is a world without genocide.

“Our question was simple, does the IOC accept hosting the Olympic Games in a country that is actively committing a genocide? The answer we received was also very simple. Yes, the IOC is willing to host genocidal Olympic Games.”

Frances Hui, a Hong Kong activist in exile, said she had a similar experience when meeting the IOC. “I talked about the fact that more than 10,000 protesters in Hong Kong were arrested in just a year, and the fact that China is violating international human rights obligations. And the first thing we heard from the IOC is: ‘It is a very complicated world.’

“And I asked again: ‘How are you going to legitimise a Games in a country practising genocide and murder?’ and the IOC again replied to me: ‘It’s a complex world.’

“Ironically, that is the same kind of rhetoric that people from China always tell me when I bring up the fact that two million Uighur workers are in camps,” she added. “When I talk about Tibetans as having their lands occupied by China, all they say is: ‘It’s complicated.’ But no, it’s not complicated.”

However, the IOC president, Thomas Bach, insisted one of the key principles of the Olympic charter is political neutrality – adding that the IOC is not equipped to solve all the world’s problems. “We are taking this very seriously,” he said. “But we are not a super world government where the IOC can solve or even address issues for which the UN security council, G7 and G20 has no solution.

“We have to fulfil our role and to live up to our responsibilities within our area of responsibilities, and the governments have to live up to their responsibilities in their remits.

“Human rights and labour rights and others will be part of the host city contract. And on this, we are working very closely with the organising committee that we are also monitoring. This includes, for instance, supply chains or labour rights, and their freedom of press and many other issues.”

Bach said a boycott of the Winter Olympics over China’s human rights abuses would not work. “We can only repeat and give advice to learn from history – a boycott of the Olympic Games has never achieved anything,” he said.

“Be mindful of the boycott in Moscow in 1980 because of the intervention of the Soviet army in Afghanistan. The Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 – nine years after.

“So it really served nothing but punishing the athletes and then led to the counter-boycott in Los Angeles. It also has no logic, why would you punish the athletes from your own country if you have a dispute with athletes from another country? This just makes no real sense. The athletes would be the ones who are suffering.”