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China hits back at US on Uyghur law: Save forced labour, genocide labels for yourself

December 24, 2021 at 9:32 pm

People demonstrate against China’s policies towards Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities, who are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide, outside the Chinese Embassy in London, United Kingdom on 1 July 2021. [Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency]

China on Friday lashed out at the US over a new law related to Uyghurs, saying it “should save the labels of ‘forced labour’ and ‘genocide’ for itself”, Anadolu Agency reported.

The US legislation “maliciously denigrates the human rights situation in … Xinjiang in disregard of facts and truth,” read a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement, referring to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act signed into law by US President Joe Biden on Thursday.

“It seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs. China deplores and firmly rejects this,” the statement said.

It accused the US of “using Xinjiang-related issues to create rumors and make trouble” and “engaging in political manipulation and economic coercion.”

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The US law bans imports from the Uyghur-majority Xinjiang autonomous region in northwestern China and imposes sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for alleged forced labour in the region.

“It is preposterous for the US, a country with a deplorable track record of human rights issues, to accuse and smear China,” the statement said.

“The US has serious problems of human trafficking and forced labour. Up to 100,000 people were trafficked into the US for forced labour annually over the past five years. Crimes against humanity against Native Americans in the past constitute de facto genocide. The US should save the labels of ‘forced labour’ and ‘genocide’ for itself.”

The ministry stressed that “Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all, but in essence about countering violent terrorism and separatism.”

“The so-called allegations of ‘forced labour’ and ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang are nothing but vicious lies concocted by anti-China forces,” the ministry asserted, adding that Washington is “seeking to undermine Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development under the pretext of human rights.”

“The US acts totally violate market principles and commercial ethics. Such moves will only undermine the stability of global industrial and supply chains, disrupt international trade order and hurt the US’ own interests and credibility,” read the statement.

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“The rock they are lifting will end up dropping on their own feet.”

It called on the US “to correct the mistake immediately, and stop using Xinjiang-related issues to spread lies, interfere in China’s internal affairs and contain China’s development.”

“China will make a further response in light of the development of the situation,” the statement added.

The US bill was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Merkley last year and cleared the House and Senate in recent weeks.

“This is the most important and impactful action taken thus far by the United States to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their use of slave labour,” Rubio said after the signing.

Over the years, several countries have accused China of ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

According to UN data, at least 1 million Uyghurs are kept against their will in places Beijing calls “vocational training centres” and the international community defines as “re-education camps.”

While the UN and other international organizations have repeatedly called for the camps to be opened for inspection, China has allowed a few of its designated centres to be partially viewed by a small number of foreign diplomats and journalists.

Beijing has persistently denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as “lies and (a) political virus.”