MPs have angrily called for the government to take action against China following the latest reports about its campaign against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region.
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said the Chinese government’s actions are “reminiscent of genocide”.
Conservative MP and former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who called the issue into the House of Commons on Monday, added the UK “cannot continue as business as usual” with the state.
An AP investigation has suggested China is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang in order to curb its Muslim population.
The report said China – which has denied the allegations – is forcing women to be sterilised or take birth control.
Carmichael also cited separate reports of organ harvesting, when people are killed in order for an organ to be removed.
He said: “These incidents would be horrific if they were standalone instances, but of course we know they’re not. They’re part of a course of conduct that we have seen in recent years. The re-education camps [one million people from ethnic minority groups, including Uighurs, are said to be in detention camps]… the reports of organ harvesting.
“This is a systematic operation reminiscent of genocide which has been visited on the Uyghur population.”
Foreign Office minister Nigel Adams said: “He was right to have mentioned organ harvesting, I know how concerned members are with this alleged practice. We take these allegations very seriously.”
Tory MP Steve Baker said of China: “It is with the utmost horror that I record what is at stake in this debate.
“The full might of an industrialised advanced state with a single party government appears, under a mounting body of evidence, to be seeking to eliminate from its society a section of people based on their identity – not for the first time in history.”
Duncan Smith, opening the debate, had said: “The world wants to deal with China but cannot continue as business as usual while this sort of blatant activity continues.
“Furthermore, given the Chinese government’s appalling record on human rights, its attack on freedoms in Hong Kong, its bullying behaviour in border disputes from the South China Sea to India, its blatant breaching of the rules-based order governing the free market and its delayed declaration on COVID-19 – will the government now initiate an internal review on the UK’s dependence on China with a view to significantly reducing this dependence?”
Adams said the UK “will continue to make our concerns directly known to China” and “where we need to intervene, we will”.