US China hawks urge English courts to declare cases of genocide overseas

US China hawks urge English courts to declare cases of genocide overseas

Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Merkley call for a coordinated effort to stop China benefiting from ‘egregious human rights abuses’

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what China calls a 'vocational skills education centre' thought to be an internment camp in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what China calls a ‘vocational skills education centre’ thought to be an internment camp in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region CREDIT: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged by US lawmakers to allow English courts to rule on whether the Chinese regime is committing genocide against the persecuted Uighur Muslim minority.

Republican senator Marco Rubio and Democratic senator Jeff Merkley, leading US China hawks, wrote to The Telegraph on Friday calling for a “coordinated transatlantic effort” to stop Beijing profiting from “egregious human rights abuses”.

Their letter comes ahead of a Tory-led rebellion next week when the Trade Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac), and Conservative MPs Nus Ghani and Bob Seely are spearheading a “genocide amendment” to the legislation.

It aims to allow domestic courts to declare if genocide is occurring in another country.

Uighur activists put on  plastic chains and imitation prison uniforms ahead of a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Istanbul in Turkey, in July
Uighur activists put on  plastic chains and imitation prison uniforms ahead of a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Istanbul in Turkey, in July CREDIT: Sam Tarling

It comes after the Government was defeated last month in the House of Lords over a similar amendment tabled by veteran human rights campaigner and crossbencher Lord Alton of Liverpool.

Mr Rubio and Mr Merkley said that a growing body of evidence suggests Beijing is “committing atrocities” and a “horrifying assault on human dignity” against the Uighur Muslim minority, but the West has “struggled to respond commensurately”.

The senators said in their letter: “We are encouraged by the effort of our UK counterparts to pass a law allowing for a genocide determination in domestic courts.”

They added: “Legislators on this side of the Pond stand ready to work with our counterparts in Parliament to address these atrocities and we will not rest until the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] ceases its genocidal policies against the Uighur people. Justice must be served.”

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, this week accused China of committing human rights abuses on “an industrial scale” against Uighur Muslims and branded the state’s repression strategy “truly harrowing”.

He cited the use of internment camps, arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and mandatory sterilisation, as he unveiled new measures to stop UK firms using products manufactured by Uighur Muslims under slave-labour conditions.

However, Mr Raab is thought to believe allowing domestic courts to determine genocide in foreign states and for this to have a bearing on the trade deals Britain can sign, would be ineffective and counterproductive.

The Government is expected to continue to oppose the ‘genocide amendment’ next week.