Uyghurs: Xinjiang Police Files prove systematic abuse

A data leak dealing with China's brutal treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority has shocked the world: the photos and files were leaked to a Sinologist and have now been published in international media following intense scrutiny. They document arbitrary detentions and systematic violence in detention camps in the Xinjiang region. What measures should the West take?

Open/close all quotes
Expressen (SE) /

Do not hand Beijing a PR victory

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet must take a clear stand during her current visit to China, Expressen demands:

“Forced sterilisation, re-education camps, the destruction of mosques, the separation of Uyghur children from their parents and their education in Chinese boarding schools are all part of the plan to eradicate Uyghur culture. ... However, it is unlikely that Bachelet will see this during her visit. Her office was due to publish a report on human rights abuses in Xinjiang in December. ... Where is it? Michelle Bachelet should condemn China's abominable crimes on the spot. To miss this opportunity would be to allow the Communist Party to win a PR victory.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Companies need to exert pressure

Western companies also have a responsibility to take action, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung believes:

“Many of the camps are suspected of forcing their inmates to also work for foreign companies. Now at the very latest, these companies should be asking themselves about the potential consequences. After all, China promised in the investment agreement with the EU that it would make 'efforts' to ratify international conventions against forced labour. Opening the gates at the camp in Xinjiang would be a start.”

Le Monde (FR) /

A new era of impunity

The West's timid reactions to China's suppression of the Uyghurs are unacceptable, writes Le Monde:

“This testifies to Beijing's new influence on the international scene. ... It is also an expression of a deliberate brutalisation of international relations and a new era of impunity. ... Although China has interned at least one million Uyghurs, no one is seriously considering imposing sanctions on the country that are commensurate to these human rights violations. What major Western brand would be willing to turn its back on the huge Chinese market? For all of Beijing's partners and negotiators, however, the Xinjiang Police Files must be a final reminder to keep a close eye on the reality that China represents today.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Repression must have consequences

In light of these revelations the measures taken so far against China do not go far enough, Dagens Nyheter insists:

“The EU had imposed limited sanctions against a number of Chinese leaders and put an investment agreement on hold. Earlier this year the US pushed through a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. But there are no measures that can compare with the tariffs President Trump imposed because he was unhappy with the US-China trade balance. Multinational companies still have factories in Xinjiang. Cotton from the region is in our clothes, despite reports of forced labour in the fields. This cannot continue. Repression must have consequences for the regime.”