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Senior Tory calls on Government to ban cotton from Xinjiang

By Dominic McGrath, PA

Sun, 4 September 2022

The Government has been urged to look at banning the import of all cotton products produced in the Xinjiang region of China by senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat as a response to the country’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

It comes after the UN published an assessment of human rights concerns linked with the Xinjiang region of China, and concluded “serious human rights violations have been committed” there linked to Beijing’s so-called counter-terror and counter-extremism policies.

The People’s Republic of China opposed the release of the UN report, which it said ignores “human rights achievements” in Xinjiang, is based on “disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces” and “distorts” government policies.

The Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang has come under increasing international scrutiny for several years, with allegations including forced labour and genocide.

Tom Tugendhat, a former candidate in the Tory leadership race who is tipped for a role in any Truss administration, used an article in the Telegraph to call for fresh action against China.

“We should stop buying any technology that facilitates repression in Xinjiang. The region is unique in the way that its authorities have utilised mass surveillance.

“Cameras monitor every corner, many with facial recognition enabled. Uyghurs are forced to download tracking apps. Some have even been arrested for the crime of texting family members.

“Given the human rights catastrophe that is unfolding, it is unacceptable for the UK to be complicit by buying cameras and surveillance equipment from the same providers,” he writes.

He goes on to argue that the UK should “look at the possibility” of banning the import of cotton products produced in whole or in part in Xinjiang.

“We now know the high risk of coercion in Xinjiang.

“Your cotton T-shirt may well have been made with materials picked by a Uyghur in slave-like conditions. Britain banned slavery a long time ago and we should not be buying goods made in such a way.”

Mr Tugendhat, a long-standing China critic on the backbenches and as chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, urges the next Government to “engage in dialogue with the International Criminal Court about the feasibility of a proprio motu investigation into crimes committed against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and beyond”.

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