Boris Johnson under pressure from top Tories to take stronger stand against China
As written in The Times:
Senior Conservatives are gearing up for a renewed push to force Boris Johnson to take a tougher stance against China.
Lord Hague of Richmond is among those endorsing research that he says details evidence of human rights abuses in the country.
In a report being published on Wednesday, the Conservative Human Rights Commission accuses the Chinese regime of torture, slave labour, surveillance, forced televised confessions and arbitrary disappearances and detention, most notably in relation to minorities such as the Uighurs.
In Red Box today Nus Ghani, a Tory former minister, is rallying support for a change to forthcoming trade legislation to allow British courts to rule whether a country is guilty of genocide.
Supporters hope that removing the need for international courts on any such charge will enable the government to use trade as a tool against countries accused of gross human rights abuses.
Ms Ghani writes: “Brexit wasn’t a vote for Britain to pursue isolationist policies, to pull up the drawbridge or to downgrade our values. It was a vote, full of hope and optimism, which said that Britain should play its part in leading the global world order, rather than having the EU set our values for us.
“So as we form trade deals with new partners, we must honour our sacrosanct responsibility never to let economic concerns trump ethical ones by dealing with genocidal states. If a country is mired in genocide — the crime above all crimes — Britain must not be complicit.”
Mr Johnson agreed to end Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network, but has previously resisted pressure from his party to punish Beijing. In cabinet meetings he has argued for a balanced approach.
Lord Hague said that the report on human rights abuses by China presented evidence “of torture, arbitrary arrest and forced confessions accompanied by a clampdown on freedom of religion and the incarceration of huge numbers of people in Xinjiang [home of the Uighurs]. We should condemn such abuses anywhere in the world, and China cannot be an exception to that.
“However we conduct our relations with China in the future, it is important to have our eyes fully open.”
Lord Patten of Barnes, the last governor of Hong Kong and a former Conservative chairman, said that the report “gives a terrifying view of the cruelty of President Xi Jinping’s brutal regime. The Communist Party has assaulted any sign of dissent and has set about building a totalitarian surveillance state beyond George Orwell’s imaginings.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the Conservative former foreign secretary, said: “This report on China and the human rights record of Xi Jinping makes sad and disturbing reading but it should be read in every foreign ministry around the world. If only it could also be read by the Chinese people.
“They would realise the degree to which millions of their fellow citizens are being persecuted and imprisoned by a cruel Communist Party.”
Crackdown is denounced
Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States have issued a joint statement denouncing last week’s arrests of scores of democracy campaigners in Hong Kong under the draconian national security law imposed last summer.
The foreign ministers of the countries expressed “serious concern” about the increasingly repressive atmosphere in the territory, and called for respect for “legally guaranteed rights and freedoms”. The Hong Kong government rejected the demands, which it said suggested “people with certain political beliefs should be immune to legal sanctions”.