Procedure : 2019/2945(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0246/2019

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 18/12/2019 - 19
CRE 18/12/2019 - 19

Votes :

PV 19/12/2019 - 6.5
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>

<Titre>on the situation of the Uyghurs in China (China Cables)</Titre>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Kati Piri, Evelyne Gebhardt, Isabel Santos, Raphaël Glucksmann</Depute>

<Commission>{S&D}on behalf of the S&D Group</Commission>


See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0246/2019


European Parliament resolution on the situation of the Uyghurs in China (China Cables)


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in China, in particular those of 18 April 2019 on China, notably the situation of religious and ethnic minorities[1], of 4 October 2018 on mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region[2], of 12 September 2018 on the state of EU-China relations[3], and of 15 December 2016 on the cases of the Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy and Ilham Tohti[4],

 having regard to the decision of its Conference of Presidents to award the 2019 Sakharov Prize to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority,

 having regard to the joint statement of the 21st EU-China summit of 9 April 2019,

 having regard to 37th EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, held in Brussels on 1-2 April 2019,

 having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 12 March 2019 entitled ‘EU-China – A strategic outlook’ (JOIN(2019)0005),

 having regard to the EU’s Item 4 oral statements at the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council on 18 September 2018, and to those by the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Finland and Canada, which expressed concern at the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang,

 having regard to the joint statement on human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang issued by the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN on behalf of 23 states, including 14 EU Member States, to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 29 October 2019,

 having regard to Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of religious belief, and to Article 4 thereof, which upholds the rights of minority ethnicities,

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966, which China signed in 1998 but never ratified,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

 having regard to the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s review of China,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the promotion of and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law should remain at the centre of the long-standing relationship between the EU and China, in line with the EU’s commitment to upholding these values in its external action and China’s expressed interest in adhering to them in its own development and international cooperation;

B. whereas the situation in Xinjiang, where more than 10 million Muslim Uyghurs and Kazakhs live, has rapidly deteriorated in the last few years, as absolute control of Xinjiang has been made a top priority, fuelled by instability and security threats that Uyghurs are allegedly posing to Xinjiang and the strategic location of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI);

C. whereas there is reliable information to suggest that Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitised surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored – through facial recognition cameras, mobile phone scans, DNA collection, and an extensive and intrusive police presence;

D. whereas the Chinese authorities launched their latest ‘Strike Hard against Violent Extremism’ campaign in 2014, when the pretext of wide-scale, internationally linked terrorist threats were used to justify pervasive restrictions on, and gross human rights violations against, the ethnic minority communities of Xinjiang;

E. whereas there are credible reports that at least hundreds of thousands of people, possibly even more than a million, are or have been detained in what are being called ‘political re-education’ centres, in the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic minority population in the world today; whereas there are reports that young children have been sent to state-run orphanages if even one of their parents is detained in the internment camps;

F. whereas publication of the China-Cables revelations has brought to light unprecedented evidence that the groundwork for the repressive measures against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others was prepared in a series of speeches delivered in private by President Xi Jinping to officials during a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014;

G. whereas the detention and persecution of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang has compelled many to stop communicating with their family and friends based abroad, including in Europe, for fear of retribution by the authorities;

H. whereas the regulations on religious affairs that entered into force in February 2018 restrict the activities of religious groups and force them to act more closely in line with party policies; whereas the new rules threaten people associated with religious communities that do not have legal status in the country; whereas religious communities have been facing increasing repression in China;

I. whereas in August 2018 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination challenged the Government of the People’s Republic of China over abuses in Xinjiang, including the establishment of mass arbitrary detention camps; whereas in September 2018, during her first ever speech in the role, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted the ‘deeply disturbing allegations of large-scale arbitrary detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim communities, in so-called re-education camps across Xinjiang’;

J. whereas the internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment of Chen Quanguo as governor of the region in August 2016;

K. whereas Chinese minority communities residing in the EU are being harassed and persecuted by the Chinese authorities or their proxies;

L. whereas China has made progress in the last few decades in the realisation of economic and social rights, by taking 700 million people out of poverty, but is substantially failing to guarantee basic international standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

M. whereas on 4 December 2019 the US Congress adopted the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which instructs the US Federal Government to take immediate measures to protect the human rights and sanction the actions of the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang province, while protecting Uyghurs residing in the USA from Chinese harassment and persecution;

N. whereas in its Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy, the EU pledged to step up its efforts to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law across all aspects of its external action, and to place human rights at the centre of its relations with all third countries, including its strategic partners;

1. Strongly condemns the sending of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs to political ‘re-education camps’ based on analysis of data harvested through a system of ‘predictive policing’, including for having travelled abroad or being adjudged too religiously devout; emphasises that any kind of detention, when applied in violation of fundamental international laws, that persecution against specific persons or groups on ethnic, cultural or religious grounds, and that other inhumane acts causing great suffering or serious injury, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on any civilian population, are unacceptable in the light of the international legal framework;

2. Calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and to ensure, meanwhile, that he has regular, unrestricted access to family and lawyers of his choice and is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment; calls for an immediate, effective and impartial investigation into the alleged torture of Ilham Tohti and for those responsible to be brought to justice;

3. Calls on the Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to provide information about the locations and medical conditions of those detained and immediately release them if there is no evidence of actual criminal activity; calls on the Chinese authorities to put an immediate end to the practice of arbitrary detention without charge, trial or conviction for a criminal offence of members of the Uyghur and Kazakh minorities and Tibetans, to close all camps and detention centres, and to immediately and unconditionally release those detained; reiterates the call on the Chinese authorities to allow free, meaningful and unhindered access to Xinjiang province for journalists and international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the mandate holders of the UN Human Rights Council Special Procedures;

4. Expresses deep concern over reports concerning the harassment of Uyghurs abroad by the Chinese authorities in order to force them to act as informants against other Uyghurs, return to Xinjiang or remain silent about the situation there, sometimes by detaining their family members; calls on the Commission and all EU Member States to investigate these reports as a matter of urgency, to ensure the protection of members of the Xinjiang diaspora, and to expedite asylum requests from Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims; welcomes the decision taken by Germany and Sweden to suspend the return of all ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs or other Turkic Muslims to China in view of the risk of arbitrary detention, torture or other ill-treatment;

5. Notes with concern that the critical importance of ‘long-term stability’ in Xinjiang to the success of the BRI has led to the intensification of long-standing control strategies bolstered by a variety of technological innovations and a rapid increase in spending on domestic security, and the use of counter-terrorism measures to criminalise dissent and dissident individuals by applying a broad definition of ‘terrorism’; is concerned at the Chinese State’s measures to ensure the ‘comprehensive supervision’ of Xinjiang through the installation of Skynet electronic surveillance in major urban areas and GPS trackers in all motor vehicles, the use of facial recognition scanners at checkpoints and train and petrol stations, and the blood collection campaign by Xinjiang police in order to further expand China’s DNA database; expresses further concerns that China is exporting such technologies to authoritarian regimes around the world;

6. Expresses deep concern over reports of the possible use of forced labour drawn from internment camps in the supply chain of EU companies doing business in Xinjiang and over reports of collaboration with the Chinese institutions involved in the mass surveillance or detention of members of the Uyghur population; calls on actors from the private sector to assess their engagements in Xinjiang and to terminate business relations where these are found to abet human rights violations, either directly or indirectly;

7. Urges the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, activists, lawyers, journalists and petitioners who are being detained for their human rights work, and to end the ongoing crackdown against them, a crackdown that has taken the form of detention, judicial harassment and intimidation; emphasises, moreover, that the Chinese authorities must ensure that all those held incommunicado are immediately put in contact with their family members and lawyers, and that the conditions of all those in detention must meet the standards laid down in the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, including access to medical care;

8. Urges the Commission, the Council and the Member States to take all the necessary measures to persuade the Chinese Government to close the camps and to end all human rights violations in Xinjiang; calls for the EU and its Member States to reiterate this message to the Chinese Government at every occasion and at the highest levels; regrets the fact that the approach taken and tools used by the EU so far have not yielded tangible progress in China’s human rights record, which has only deteriorated over the last decade; urges the new Commission to devise and implement a holistic EU strategy with a view to securing genuine progress on human rights in China;

9. Underlines the fact that in their joint statement issued after the 21st EU-China summit, the EU and China reaffirmed that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated;

10. Calls for the EU, its Member States and the international community to work towards the imposition of appropriate export control mechanisms to deny China access to technologies used to violate basic rights;

11. Recalls the importance of the EU continuing to raise the issue of human rights violations in China, and in particular the case of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang – whose basic freedoms and rights have long been curtailed by the Chinese authorities – at every political and human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities, in line with the EU’s commitment to project a strong, clear and unified voice in its approach to the country; reiterates that in its ongoing reform process and increasing global engagement, China has opted into the international human rights framework by signing up to a wide range of international human rights treaties; calls, therefore, for the establishment of a dialogue with China so as to encourage it to live up to these commitments; stresses, moreover, the specific need for the Chinese authorities to continue to implement the national reforms required in order to ratify the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by China in 1998;

12. Encourages the use of the full range of instruments, including targeted sanctions, should they be deemed appropriate and effective, against the Chinese officials responsible for devising and implementing the policy of mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and for orchestrating a severe repression of religious freedom, freedom of movement and other basic rights in the region;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Government and Parliament of the People’s Republic of China.


[1] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0422.

[2] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0377.

[3] Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0343.

[4] OJ C 238, 6.7.2018, p. 108.

Last updated: 17 December 2019Legal notice - Privacy policy