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Xinjiang sanctions landmark moment in global response to China

Only way free, democratic world can challenge China’s human rights abuses is by acting in unity

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(Flickr, Malcolm Brown photo) 

(Flickr, Malcolm Brown photo) 

KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) — The genocide of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been high on the agenda of most Western governments for some time now.

It has been noticeable that questions on this topic and the annexation of Hong Kong have been put to the U.S. secretary of state and the British foreign secretary at almost every opportunity over the past few months. The outgoing U.S. administration formally classified China’s abuses in the East Turkestan/Xinjiang region as genocide back in January, and the incoming Biden administration has reaffirmed that and issued sanctions against those officials responsible.

In the U.K., the law states that genocide is not a political determination, but one that has to be taken by a competent court of law. Even so, there has still been huge pressure for the implementation of sanctions, especially over Hong Kong, given that the U.K. is the co-signatory of the internationally-recognized Sino-British Joint Declaration, which the CCP has repeatedly broken.

The EU’s stance has been more proactive given the growing evidence of genocide. On Dec. 30 a joint investment agreement between China and the EU was agreed and there have been undignified scenes of EU officials desperately trying to justify this in the face of mounting evidence of forced sterilization, forced labor, and millions being held in internment camps in Xinjiang.

Earlier this week, the Western world, including the EU, came together to unite as one against the genocide being perpetrated against the Uyghur Muslims by the CCP.

That sounds great, you might think. Finally, the democratic world is going to stand up against this totalitarian regime that is occupying land and obliterating people and cultures.

Sanctions necessary

Well, yes and no. A total of 30 countries have come together to announce joint sanctions against four individuals and one organization.

This might seem a bit weak. After all, it takes the complicity of far more than four people and one company to incarcerate between 1 and 3 million innocent people.

In the U.K. Parliament, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke at length about the “systemic, human rights abuses” being seen in East Turkestan/Xinjiang. He seemed almost taken aback when his fellow legislators suggested that he should be doing more and even gave the names of individuals like Chen Quanguo (陈全国), the CCP leader in the region and orchestrator of the regime’s crimes there.

He seemed even more surprised when people suggested similar sanctions were needed against the individuals responsible for the illegal annexation of Hong Kong too.

There is no doubt that there are far more people who should be facing sanctions as a result of the CCP’s atrocities against the Uyghur people. Arguably the whole of the CCP party apparatus is responsible and therefore needs to take a share of the blame.

There is also a debate to be had about how effective sanctions will be and what sort of a deterrent they will prove to be. However, the fact that these sanctions were put in place jointly by no fewer than 30 different Western nations is actually a hugely symbolic moment.

It is the moment when the free and democratic world came together as one to send a message to China that it cannot commit such appalling atrocities without consequences. The only way the free, democratic world can contain and overcome the CCP is by acting in unity together.

Our shared values and alliances are some of the key things that separate us from authoritarian dictatorships like the CCP.

West united

China doesn’t do alliances (with the exception of pariah state North Korea). It has relationships with regimes like Russia, but this is a marriage of convenience rather than a genuine friendship. It uses its economic power to subjugate smaller nations in the developing world.

But it does not have any genuine allies. And if the Western world unites to challenge China, it can and will succeed.

China’s approach to the Western world up to this point has been to seek to divide. They have pandered to the EU, which wanted an investment deal, and railed against the U.S. when, under Donald Trump’s stewardship, it challenged China economically.

These sanctions, insignificant though they may seem at first glance, are the first sign of this alliance coming together. More sanctions will follow and a closer alliance will grow, not least at this summer’s G7 meeting in Cornwall, England when Australia, South Korea, and India will be invited to join the G7 in forming a D10 group of countries for precisely this purpose.

China’s response to these sanctions shows how rattled they are. It has lashed out with sanctions of its own against EU legislators and entities that appear certain to kill the EU-China Investment deal stone dead.

Further retaliation and more sanctions can be expected in the future but these will only make the alliance stronger. There will be more sanctioning of Chinese officials by the West too.

This can only be good news for Taiwan, as illustrated by Japan’s recent suggestion that it might join the U.S. in offering military support to protect Taiwan from a potential invasion by China.

There has been talk on both sides about the need to avoid a new cold war. However, the reality is that the actions of the CCP make such a conflict almost inevitable.


Updated : 2021-04-10 20:35 GMT+08:00