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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

15.12.2020 - (2020/2913(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Kati Piri
on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0432/2020

Postup : 2020/2913(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the Forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region


The European Parliament,

  Having regard to its previous resolutions and reports on the situation in China, in particular those of 19 December 2019 on the situation of the Uyghurs in China (China Cables),  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 Sakharov Prize 2019 awarded to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority;


  Having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 and to Council Decision (CFSP 2020/199 of 7 December 2020 concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses;


  Having regard to the remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell following the Foreign Affairs Council of 7 December 2020;


  Having regard to the remarks by Council President Charles Michel after the EU-China leaders' meeting of 14 September 2020;


  Having regard to the joint statement of President Michel and President von der Leyen of “Defending EU interests and values in a complex and vital partnership” following the 22nd EU-China summit that took place on 22 June 2020;


  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 UN experts call for decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China of 26 June 2020;


  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 Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure.


  1. 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 EUs commitment to upholding these values in its external action and Chinas expressed interest in adhering to them in its own development and international cooperation;


  1. Whereas the situation in Xinjiang, where more than 10 million Muslim Uyghurs and Kazakhs live, has rapidly deteriorated since 2016 and 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, large-scale illegal collection, aggregation and processing of personal data and an extensive and intrusive police presence;


  1. Whereas there are credible reports that more than 1 million people, 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 the internment camp system in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is expanding, with more than 380 suspected detention facilities newly built or expanded since 2017, and at least 61 detention sites newly constructed or expanded between July 2019 and July 2020 ; whereas the suffering of Uyghurs also extend to the younger generation:  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; whereas research found that by the end of 2019, over 880,000 Uyghur children had been placed in boarding facilities; whereas credible research shows that Chinese authorities have implemented an official scheme of targeted birth prevention measures against Uyghur women in an effort to reduce Uyghur birth-rates; whereas, as part of this scheme, Chinese authorities systematically subject Uyghur women of childbearing age to forced abortions, intrauterine injections and sterilization, with 80% of all new intrauterine device (IUD) placements in China in 2018 performed in the Uyghur region, despite the fact that it makes up only 1.8% of China’s population; whereas such measures to prevent births within the Uyghur population could meet the criteria for genocide, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;


  1. 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’;


  1. whereas these Chinese factories using Uyghur forced workers in and outside Xinjiang through abusive labour transfer programs are manufacturing products for and supplying many European multinational companies and global brands;
  2. Whereas a study by the Jamestown Foundation of June 2020 extensively documents allegations of forced sterilisations and forced application of birth control to women belonging to minorities in Xinjiang;


  1. Whereas there are several credible reports of forced Uyghur labour in production chains in the clothing, technology, and automotive sector, including the March 2020 report of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using the labour of at least 80,000 Uyghurs transferred from Xinjiang between 2017 and 2019; whereas these factories supply at least 82 global brands, including many European multinational companies;


  1. Whereas reliable evidence from Chinese sources reports shows that cotton harvest in China is mostly performed by forced workers and that hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority labourers in Xinjiang are being forced to pick cotton by hand through a coercive state-mandated labour transfer and “poverty alleviation” scheme;


  1. Whereas products that have been reported to have been made at least in part using forced labor associated with Xinjiang include textiles (including yarn, clothing, gloves, bedding and carpet), cotton, electronics (including cell phones and computer hardware), food products (including noodles and cakes), shoes, tea and handicrafts;


  1. Whereas China is one of the world’s largest cotton producers, with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region accounting for over 20% of global productio, the largest producer and exporter of yarn, and the largest producer and exporter of textiles and apparel; whereas the Chinese government plans on doubling manufacturing capacity in the Uyghur Region by 2025, with apparel and textiles forming a key element of that plan; whereas 84% percent of Chinese cotton comes from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which means that the yarn, textiles and garments made with Chinese cotton are at extraordinarily high risk of being tainted with forced and prison labour, whether manufactured in China or anywhere else in the world;


  1.  Whereas no reliable means are available to companies to verify that any workplace in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is free of forced labour or to prevent the use of forced labour in these workplaces in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and human rights due diligence standards;


  1. Whereas comments in March 2018 from the president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council suggested that textile manufacturers were working with Xinjiang authorities to exploit forced labour; whereas companies that work in Xinjiang are at great risk of complicity in the human rights abuses being committed in the region;


  1. Whereas under the current EU legislation (either at EU or national levels), companies have no legal responsibility to take action to prevent them from contributing to human rights abuses in their supply chains (with the exception of France); whereas the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive imposes a reporting obligation on companies, but does not require companies to take steps to prevent harm in their supply chains or allows to hold them accountable;


  1. Whereas the Legal Affairs Committee in the European Parliament is currently working on an initiative on “corporate due diligence and corporate accountability”; whereas the Council of the EU published on 1 December 2020 its Conclusions on “Human Rights and Decent Work in Global Supply Chains” which calls on the European Commission to table a proposal for an EU legal framework on sustainable corporate governance, including cross-sector corporate due diligence obligations along global supply chains; whereas the European Commission announced they will launch a legislative proposal on “Sustainable Corporate Governance” in 2021 which will address the need for human rights due diligence across value chains;


  1. 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;


  1. 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;


  1. Whereas the Council has adopted a decision and a regulation establishing the EU Global Human Rights sanction regime, which enable the EU to impose restrictive measures on targeted individuals, entities and bodies - including states and non-state actors, responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, including slavery.


  1. Strongly condemns the use of any forced labour, in particular by Uyghur, ethnic Kazakh and Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minority groups, in factories both within and outside of internment camps in Xinjiang, as well as the transfer of forced labourers to other Chinese administrative divisions; calls on actors from the private sector to assess their engagements in Xinjiang, to conduct independent audits of the human rights compliance in their full supply chains, and to terminate business relations where these are found to abet human rights violations, either directly or indirectly through the activity of one of their suppliers or business relationships on their value chain in China;


  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;


  1. Strongly condemns the extensive use of digital surveillance technologies to monitor and control the population in Xinjiang and the most recently revealed tests of facial recognition software which could send “Uighur alarms” to government authorities when its camera systems identify members of the Uighur minority; regrets that China does not comply with its own commitments by adhering to the OECD principles on a human-centred artificial intelligence by having subscribed to the G20 declaration of June 2019 and calls on the European Commission and the Member States to continue calling on China to adhere to its own commitments in this regard;


  1. 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 and unrestricted access to the internment camps for journalists and international observers, including  to EU officials following President Xi Jinping’s invitation during the EU-China Summit of 14 September 2020, to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and the mandate holders of the UN Human Rights Council Special Procedures;


  1. Strongly condemns the reported massive campaign by the Chinese Communist Party to suppress Uyghur birth-rates in Xinjiang and calls on Chinese authorities to put an immediate end to any measures aimed at preventing births in the Uyghur population, including forced sterilizations, abortions or sanctions against birth control violations;


  1. Urges the Chinese government to ratify and implement International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention n°29 on Forced Labour Convention, the ILO Convention n°105 on abolition of Forced labour, ILO Convention n°87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and ILO Convention n°98 on the Right to Organise and to Collective Bargaining;


  1. 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;


  1. Condemns 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 deeply 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 using software based on artificial intelligence camera systems aimed at identifying Uyghurs and other members of ethnic minority groups, 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; calls on EU and MS to monitor the acquisition and development of these technologies and the activity of their providers, including the Chinese company Huawei, and to refrain from opening them  access to EU and national public funding and public procurement;


  1. Calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the Uyghur scholar and Sakharov Prize 2019 winner 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;


  1. 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;


  1. Welcomes the Council Conclusions on Human Rights and Decent Work in Global Supply Chains of 1 December 2020 asking the Commission to launch an EU Action Plan that is focusing on shaping global supply chains sustainably, promoting human rights, social and environmental due diligence standards and transparency by 2021;


  1.  Urges the EU and its Member states to ensure that EU companies, companies domiciled in or third-country companies operating in the Union internal market do not cause, contribute to or are otherwise benefiting from Uyghur forced labour in their global value chains; in this regard, strongly supports and echoes Endorses the Council call for a proposal from the Commission for an EU legal framework on sustainable corporate governance, including cross-sector corporate due diligence obligations along global supply chains; urges the European Commission to deliver on its commitments and to table a very ambitious proposal for a mandatory EU Human Rights due diligence legislation, covering all sectors and all companies and establishing clear requirements for the company to identify, prevent, cease, mitigate, remediate and account for human rights violations along its entire value chains and introducing effective enforcement mechanisms and liability regimes; strongly supports the Council call on the Commission to update its 2006 Communication on ‘Promoting decent work for all – the EU contribution to the implementation of the decent work agenda in the world;


  1. Calls on the member states, in accordance with their competences and national circumstances, to step up their efforts to effectively implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including through new or updated National Action Plans containing a mix of voluntary and mandatory measures;


  1. Reiterates its call that the EU – China Investment Agreement should include a binding and enforceable sustainable development chapter which includes to requirements on the full respect for human rights, the respect of high labour standards and high environmental standards; stresses that products produced in so-called “re-education camps”, or which in any way involve forced labour at any point in their respective supply chains, must be banned from EU markets;


  1. Urges the European Commission to ensure that any advancements of discussions on the EU-China Investment Agreement are fully conditional on the respect, by China, of its human rights obligations, including on the termination of the state-led mass detention, sterilization and enslavement policy targeting the Uyghur population in Xinjiang;


  1. Welcomes the adoption by the US House of Representatives of the Uyghur Forced labour Prevention Act; Calls on the EU to develop supply chains requirements in order to determine whether imports entering the EU internal market were manufactured by forced labour and impose an import ban on all products produced by forced labour, on cotton originated from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and on products produced by all Chinese companies listed as exploiting Uyghur forced labour;


  1. Calls on EU and Member States to check whether entities operating on the EU
    internal market are directly or indirectly involved in creating mass surveillance
    systems in Xinjiang, in running or building detention facilities for minority groups in
    Xinjiang or conducting transactions with any person sanctioned for abuse of Uyghurs
    and other minority groups in Xinjiang; stresses that the determination of these facts
    should trigger trade related measures, exclusion from public procurement and sanctions;


  1. 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 and in other places, such as Tibet; 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;


  1. 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;


  1. 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 any technologies and equipment used to violate basic rights and facilitate internal repression, including surveillance technology;


  1. Asks the Commission to conduct a thorough review of Xinjiang-based companies that export products to the Union in order to identify potential breaches of human rights, especially those related to the repression of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or other Muslim minorities in China;


  1. Calls for the implementation of effective, proportionate and dissuasive legal consequences, including sanctions and import controls, against companies which are demonstrably implicated in, or contribute to, the violation of the fundamental rights of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or other Muslim minorities in China;


  1. 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 EUs 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;


  1. Welcomes the adoption of the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime on 7 December 2020; Calls on the Member States and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to swiftly evaluate the appropriateness of imposing and to adopt sanctions, based on the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, against the Chinese officials responsible for devising and implementing the policy of mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, for the use of forced labour, and for orchestrating a the severe repression of religious freedom, freedom of movement and other basic rights in the region and in other places, such as Tibet;


  1. 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 Peoples Republic of China.




Posledná úprava: 15. decembra 2020
Právne upozornenie - Politika ochrany súkromia