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Chinese leadership tries to silence any kind of opposition

Engin Eroglu

The coordinated sanctions by the EU, the UK, the US and Canada against those responsible for the crimes against the Uyghurs mark an important turning point in the actions of Western democracies towards the Chinese government and its fight for human rights. The Chinese government's immediate and excessive retaliation also shows us once again that the Chinese leadership is trying to silence any kind of opposition, whether domestic or international.

For years, the Chinese regime has imprisoned millions of people in camps merely for being Uyghurs. Although evidence of mass imprisonment, forced labor, state-ordered sterilization, and systematic rape has been mounting since 2017, the international community has long stood idly by. But now the public is finally beginning to understand the scale of the crimes committed in Xinjiang, and the pressure for political action is rising. This week we have seen this week what this can achieve.

Since the beginning of my mandate in the European Parliament, I have been calling for targeted sanctions, in the sense of a European Magnitsky Act against those responsible at government level. It is unacceptable that these crimes have not been prosecuted for so long. The decision by EU foreign ministers to impose targeted sanctions is a key step in the right direction, even if one of the main perpetrators, Chen Quango, has not been sanctioned.

Now the next step is to find sustainable solutions to systematically address the ongoing human rights violations in China - whether in Xinjiang, Hong Kong or Tibet. We must seize this moment and follow with immediate further action. I called for this earlier this week in my open letter to EU foreign ministers and Council and Commission leaders, urging them to expand sanctions also against officials in Hong Kong.

At the same time, there is an urgent need for laws that prevent complicity in the machinations of the Chinese government. Especially in view of the widespread forced labor systems and the increasing trade with China, this is essential. China continues to be Germany's most important trading partner, so a special responsibility arises here for the Federal Republic. However, the investment agreement between the EU and China must not be ratified under these circumstances. International organizations such as the UN must finally take action and set up an independent commission of inquiry into the crimes in Xinjiang to gain access to the camps. The closed doors in Xinjiang must be opened to defend human dignity and freedoms.

To this end, it is now essential to exert pressure on the Chinese government together with our international partners. This is the only way we can prevent further suffering of the Uyghurs. Countries like the Netherlands have already declared that what is happening in Xinjiang is genocide. The cloak of silence has been lifted, now more than ever, it is time for action!

Engin Eroglu
Freie Wähler MEP