Four Chinese officials will be sanctioned by the UK over “appalling violations” of human rights against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, the foreign secretary has announced.
Sanctions have also been placed on an official body – Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau.
Dominic Raab said that evidence points to a “highly disturbing programme of repression” in Xinjiang.
In a statement, he told the Commons: “This is one of the worst human rights crises of our time and I believe the evidence is clear as it is sobering.
“It includes satellite imagery, survivor testimony, official documentation and indeed leaks from the Chinese government itself, credible open source reporting including from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, visits by British diplomats to the region that have corroborated other reports about the targeting of specific ethnic groups.”
He said the evidence indicates a “highly disturbing programme of repression”.
“Expressions of religion have been criminalised, Uighur language and culture discriminated against on a systematic scale,” Mr Raab added.
“There is widespread use of forced labour, women forcibly sterilised, children separated from their parents.
“An entire population subject to surveillance, including collection of DNA, use of facial recognition software and so called predictive policing algorithms.”
It comes after the UK government called on countries around the world to send a “clear message” that China‘s abuses in Xinjiang “will not go unanswered”.
“We have been clear the situation in Xinjiang is beyond the pale,” a Foreign Office spokesman said before Mr Raab’s statement.
“The reported abuses, which include torture, forced labour and forced sterilisation of women, are extreme and they are extensive.
“It’s important that the international community, working together, sends a clear message that this will not go unanswered.”
In January, the foreign secretary labelled China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims as “barbarism” and announced new measures to stop UK companies trading with Chinese firms connected to forced labour.
He said there was clear evidence of “internment camps, forced labour, arbitrary detention, political re-education and forced sterilisation, all on an industrial scale”.
The European Union earlier announced sanctions on four Chinese officials accused of being behind abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, freezing their assets in the bloc and imposing a travel ban.
Amid this backdrop, MPs are set to vote on amendments to the Trade Bill aimed at stopping trade pacts with countries involved in genocide.