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China sanctions Belgian lawmaker for motion warning of genocide risk against Xinjiang Uygurs

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 17/06/2021
a sign on the side of a road: A facility on the outskirts of Hotan in Xinjiang region believed to be a re-education camp. In 2021, the parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands, Britain, Lithuania and the Czech Republic adopted motions denouncing Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang. Photo: AFP A facility on the outskirts of Hotan in Xinjiang region believed to be a re-education camp. In 2021, the parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands, Britain, Lithuania and the Czech Republic adopted motions denouncing Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang. Photo: AFP

Beijing has sanctioned a Belgian lawmaker who called for a proposal warning of a risk of genocide against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The foreign relations committee of the Belgian parliament approved a motion related to Xinjiang on Tuesday, warning of a "a serious risk of genocide against" Uygur Muslims in the region, and "mass violations of human rights that may constitute crimes against humanity". The resolution will be confirmed by a plenary session in the House of Representatives on July 1.

a person in a suit standing in front of a building: Belgian politician Samuel Cogolati. Photo: Samuel Cogolati © Provided by South China Morning Post Belgian politician Samuel Cogolati. Photo: Samuel Cogolati

Beijing responded on Wednesday that it had decided to sanction the member of parliament, Samuel Cogolati, who authored the motion, for "spreading lies and false information" and pushing the proposal.

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"The allegation of 'genocide' in Xinjiang is a total rumour and lie fabricated by people with ulterior motives. The real intention is to disrupt Xinjiang's social stability and contain China's development," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference, urging anti-China forces to stop "interfering in China's domestic affairs in the name of human rights".

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The European Union imposed sanctions on Chinese individuals and entities related to the alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang in March. China applied tit-for-tat sanctions immediately.

G7 leaders had earlier called on China to "respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang" in a joint statement on Sunday after their meeting.

What is going on in Xinjiang and who are the Uygur Muslims?

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Belgium accused Belgian politicians of "seeking political profits" through Xinjiang-related matters on Wednesday, according to the embassy's statement.

"Over the past 60 years, Xinjiang's economic volume has increased by more than 200 times, its per capita GDP has increased by nearly 40 times, and its average life expectancy has increased from 30 to 72 years. The Uygur population has continued to grow ... anti-China forces have been bringing false charges against China with a presumption of guilt.

"We emphasise once again that Xinjiang-related matters are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion but rather anti-violence, anti-separatism, and deradicalisation ... Xinjiang has adopted preventive counterterrorism and deradicalisation measures to effectively curb the frequent occurrence of terrorist activities, and to protect the lives of all ethnic groups, develop economies and improve livelihoods."

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In the past four months, the parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands, Britain, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have adopted motions denouncing Beijing's policies in Xinjiang as crimes against humanity.

While addressing an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting on Wednesday, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said China was determined to protect its sovereignty over Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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