Politicians Push For Sanctions, Olympic TV Boycott After China Cables

Pressure continues to grow on the Chinese government, with calls for asset freezes and Winter Olympics boycotts over its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

China's flag flying at European Parliament

Pressure continues to grow on the Chinese government over its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, with European parliamentarians pushing for new sanctions and two senators in the United States urging a television boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution demanding that China shut down its mass internment camps in Xinjiang and called for Europe to impose sanctions and asset freezes against the Chinese officials responsible for them.

The measure, which cited the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ China Cables investigation, also called on European nations to expedite asylum requests from Uighurs and to strengthen export controls to stop all exports and technology transfers to China that could aid its sweeping surveillance programs.

The China Cables project revealed the secret operations manual for internment camps in Xinjiang that are holding hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities, as well as previously undisclosed Chinese intelligence briefings that showed the mechanics of the mass surveillance and detention system.

“The documents bring to light China’s systematic brainwashing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in a network of high-security prison camps and the mechanics of Xinjiang’s system of mass surveillance and predictive policing,” stated the European Parliament resolution’s text.

“We should sanction human rights violations,” said Phil Bennion, a member of Parliament from the United Kingdom, during the debate prior to the resolution’s adoption. “In my view, this is probably the most serious human rights violation that is taking place in the world at the moment.”

The vote on the resolution came the day after the European Parliament awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize, an honor for defenders of human rights, to Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economist and rights activist who is currently serving a life sentence in prison in China on charges of separatism.

The European Parliament’s resolution follows a similar measure approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 3, just over a week after the China Cables’ publication.

Separately, in the U.S. on Thursday, Republican senators Rick Scott and Josh Hawley reportedly wrote to television station NBCUniversal to urge the broadcaster to refuse to air the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will take place in Beijing.

According to Axios, the letter, sent to top NBC executives on Thursday, cited both Beijing’s “abysmal” human rights record and concerns about China Cables revelations of mass surveillance, and called on the station to “request that the [International Olympic Committee] re-bid the 2022 Olympics or refuse to air the 2022 games.”

Read more
Inside China Cables
New Leak Shows How China Targets Uighurs in Xinjiang
February 19, 2020 — The leaked “Qaraqash List” shows that ethnic minorities were detained in camps for growing a beard or wearing a veil, or having too many children.
Inside China Cables
Uighurs Sent From Camps to Factories, New Report Says
March 3, 2020 — More than 80,000 Uighurs have been sent to work in factories making products for global brands, including Apple and Nike, according to a think tank report.
Inside China Cables
US Senate approves bill to punish China over Uighur rights
May 15, 2020 — If enacted the bill would give the Trump Administration 180 days to report Chinese officials responsible for mass internment camps and other abuses in Xinjiang