Chinese officials, now facing threat of Magnitsky sanctions, launch attack on integrity of Uyghur women

China, under growing global pressure over its treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority in its far west, appears to have gone on the defensive making astonishing claims about its female victims.

Women who have made claims of abuse are accused of infidelity ,and in one case of having a sexually transmitted disease. The officials said the information was evidence of bad character, invalidating the women’s accounts of abuse in Xinjiang.

Individual women have been named, with private medical data being released.

“To rebuke some media’s disgusting acts, we have taken a series of measures,” Xu Guixiang, the deputy head of Xinjiang’s publicity department, told a December news conference that was part of China’s pushback campaign. It includes hours-long briefings, with footage of Xinjiang residents and family members reading monologues.

“One reason that the Communist Party is so concerned about these testimonies from women is because it undermines their initial premise for what they’re doing there, which is anti-terrorism”, said James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University and expert in Xinjiang policy.

“The fact that there are so many women in the camps ... who don’t have the faintest appearance of being violent people, this just shows how this has nothing to do with terrorism.”

According to the United Nations more than one million people have been detained in Xinjiang camps under what the central government calls a campaign against terrorism. Accusations by activists and some Western politicians include torture, forced labour and sterilisations.

US diplomats have called China’s treatment of the Uyghurs genocide, a stance adopted last week by the Canadian and Dutch parliaments, with a similar motion currently before the Belgian parliament.

In the UK, former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has called for Magnitsky style sanctions against Chinese officials.

We face an arrogant country, led by an arrogant leadership that has trashed the Sino-British agreement and is guilty of huge human rights abuses and dangerous confrontations with its neighbours. The British Government must lead in this matter, not wait. It is time for us to let the Chinese Government know that these actions come with serious repercussions.

Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP.

China also faces sanctions such as a ban on U.S purchases of Xinjiang cotton and tomatoes, and calls by some Western lawmakers to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

China has declined to provide data on the number of people in the camps. Having initially denied the camps even existed Beijing now says they are vocational and education centres and that all the people have “graduated”.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

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