Against the backdrop of continuing human rights violations in China, MEPs renew their call for tough EU action, including an import ban for goods made with forced labour.
On Monday, MEPs on the Subcommittee on Human Rights discussed with Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China Director, the latest human rights developments in China and Chinese government attempts to undermine the global human rights system. The debate also took place following the publication last week of a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which stated that the Chinese government committed serious human rights violations against the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. The UN body concluded that these abuses may constitute crimes against humanity.
In her intervention, Ms Richardson called for more EU sanctions and a decisive and unified international response to address the well-documented human rights violations in China, while pushing back against Chinese government attempts to undermine international institutions. She outlined the importance of the UN report, urging the international community to use it to press ahead with investigations into crimes committed in China.
Welcoming Ms Richardson’s contribution, many MEPs echoed her call for strict EU due diligence legislation and the importance of putting in place an EU import ban for goods made with forced labour. They also quizzed the guest speaker on additional actions the EU could undertake to better counter malign Chinese influence in the international sphere.
Finally, several MEPs also voiced serious concern over the fact that the previous EU-China Human Rights Dialogue did not allow for any general improvements when it comes to the human rights situation in China, and stressed that human rights require a genuine dialogue.
“The recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights paints a very bleak picture of the situation in Xinjiang, including the use of forced labour to produce goods that reach our single market. According to the founding treaties, the EU’s external policy must respect human rights and we can no longer ignore the human rights realities in China. We need to implement a comprehensive policy, including all available tools at our disposal, such as legislation on corporate sustainability due diligence. I hope very much that the imminent European Commission proposal on the banning of forced labour products will live up to the expectations”, said Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.
You can watch the debate again here (05.09.2022).