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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on 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

Michael Gahler, Miriam Lexmann, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima, David McAllister, Radosław Sikorski, Paulo Rangel, Andrzej Halicki, Peter van Dalen, Tomáš Zdechovský, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Vladimír Bilčík, Inese Vaidere, David Lega, Christian Sagartz, Tomas Tobé, Krzysztof Hetman, Romana Tomc, Magdalena Adamowicz, Ivan Štefanec, Esther de Lange, Loucas Fourlas, Benoît Lutgen, Janina Ochojska, Eva Maydell, Luděk Niedermayer, Jiří Pospíšil, Stanislav Polčák, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Michaela Šojdrová, Peter Pollák
on behalf of the PPE Group

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

Procedure : 2020/2913(RSP)
Stadium plenaire behandeling
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European Parliament resolution on forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region


The European Parliament,

  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in China, in particular  those of 10 March 2011 on the situation and cultural heritage in Kashgar (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), of 15 December 2016 on the cases of the Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy and Ilham Tohti, the Report of 12 September 2018 on the State of EU-China relations and of 4 October 2018 on Mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, of 18 April 2019 on China, notably the situation of religious and ethnic minorities and of 19 December 2019 on the on the situation of the Uyghurs in China (China Cables),


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


  having regard to the EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 24 June 2013,

  having regard to the Protocol of 2014 to the ILO Forced Labour Convention of 1930, which has not been signed by China,

  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 nationalities’,

  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966, signed by China in 1998 but not 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 135 of the Rules of Procedure,


  1. Whereas in its strategic framework on human rights and democracy, the EU pledges that human rights, democracy, and rule of law will be promoted “in all areas of the EU's external actions without exception” and that the EU will “place human rights at the centre of its relations with all third countries including strategic partners.”; whereas this should remain at the centre of the long-standing relationship between the EU and China, in accordance with the EU’s commitment to uphold these very same values in its external action and China’s expressed interest in adhering to them in its own development and international cooperation;


  1. whereas the new regulations on religious affairs in China that took effect on 1 February 2018 are more restrictive towards religious groups and activities and force them to fall more closely into line with party policies; whereas freedom of religion and conscience has reached a new low since the start of the economic reforms and the opening up of China in the late 1970s; whereas China is home to one of the largest populations of religious prisoners;


  1. whereas an extrajudicial detention programme has been established, holding “from tens of thousands to upwards of a million Uyghurs” who are forced to undergo political ‘re-education’ according to estimates cited by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, without being charged or tried for undetermined periods of time, and are therefore being arbitrarily detained, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism; whereas policy of strict restrictions on religious practices and the Uyghur language and customs have been developed in the Xinjiang province, coupled with policies of forced political indoctrination, forced sterilisation, forced organ-harvesting and forced labour;


  1. whereas credible research suggests that the internment camp system in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is expanding or being upgraded, 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,
  2. whereas many detainees from the internment camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have been subjected to forced labour; whereas, moreover, evidence suggests that at least 80,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic muslims have been transferred out of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and assigned to work in factories in forced labour settings as part of a central government policy known as “Xinjiang Aid”,


  1. whereas there are credible reports, like the March 2020 report of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, who identified 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces that are using Uyghur labour transferred from Xinjiang; whereas these factories indirectly supply global brands, including many European multinational companies;


  1. whereas, given the fact that China is one of the largest cotton producers in the world, with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region producing more than 20 percent of the world’s cotton, foreign companies’ supply chains are affected by Uyghur forced labour, in particular in the textile, apparel, and footwear industry,


  1. whereas operating in the Uyghur Region in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) has become virtually impossible since there are no valid means for companies to verify that any workplace in the Uyghur Region is free of forced labour or to prevent the use of forced labour in these workplaces in line with human rights due diligence; 
  2. 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, the Chinese government has refused numerous requests from the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN Special Procedures mandates to send independent investigators to Xinjiang,


  1. Is deeply concerned about the increasingly suppressive regime that many religious and ethnic minorities, in particular Uyghurs and Kazakhs face, violating their human dignity as well as their rights to freedom of cultural expression and religious belief, to freedom of speech and expression, peaceful assembly and association; deplores the worsening human rights situation across mainland China and in Hong Kong, and demands that Chinese authorities respect fundamental freedoms;


  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 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;
  2. 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. Calls the EU and its Member States to implement effective control mechanisms in response to Uyghur forced labour, urges the EU and its Members States to impose an import ban on cotton and cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region;


  1. Calls the EU, its Member States to ensure that companies are not profiting from Uyghur forced labour in their supply chains, given the scale and nature of the forced labour scheme in China; in this regard, urges the EU, in particular the Commission, to urgently introduce due diligence legislation;


  1. Urges the Chinese government to release the full details of persons disappeared in Xinjiang to their families;


  1. Urges the Chinese government to ratify core International Labour Organization (ILO) C029 - Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention 1957 (No. 105);


  1. Urges China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights;


  1. Calls on the Council to consider adopting targeted sanctions aimed at officials responsible for the crackdown in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as well as other violations of human rights across mainland China and Hong Kong;


  1. Reiterates its support for the forthcoming EU-US Dialogue on China, and urges that human rights feature prominently in its agenda; calls for greater coordination among democracies in implementing sanctions and other measures to address human rights violations in mainland China and Hong Kong as well as the geopolitical challenge posed by the PRC,


  1. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and the Parliament of the Peoples’ Republic of China.




Laatst bijgewerkt op: 15 december 2020
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