Xinjiang governor cancels controversial UK visit to Europe

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Governor Arkin Tuniyaz has canceled plans to visit London and Europe this week after a backlash against his human rights record.

In an email to The Epoch Times on Wednesday, a spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said it understood Tuniyaz had canceled his visit to the UK.

“The UK government will continue to use every opportunity to take action against China’s unacceptable human rights abuses in Xinjiang,” a spokesman said.

An EU spokesperson said in an email to The Epoch Times that the EU “has been informed by the Chinese delegation that the visit has been postponed.”

US publications Politico and French newspapers Le Monde Tuniyaz canceled plans to visit Paris on Monday, citing unidentified diplomatic sources. The Epoch Times sought confirmation from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Chinese embassy in London did not respond to the Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Asked Tuesday about reports that the governor of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region will not visit Paris and Brussels, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he had no specific information.

He called reports of human rights abuses in Xinjiang “the misinformation of the century by anti-Chinese forces” and accused “relevant parties” of politicizing Xinjiang issues and interfering in China’s internal affairs.

controversial visit

Tuniyaz, governor of Xinjiang and deputy secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has served as the region’s deputy governor since 2008.

The US Treasury Department will impose sanctions on him under the Global Magnitsky Act in 2021, saying more than one million Uyghurs were detained in Xinjiang during his tenure.

In December 2021, the Independent People’s Court in London, headed by Sir Jeffrey Nice (KC), ruled that the Chinese Communist regime carried out genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the westernmost Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. was dropped.

The U.S. government has recognized that the Chinese regime has committed “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” against Uyghur Muslims since January 2021, and has been criticized by the British parliament and many others around the world. So has Parliament, but the British government has so far resisted. Pressure to call abuse “genocide,” citing successive government policies that only “courts of jurisdiction” can make such designations.

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
A fence surrounds a forced re-education center in Davancheng, Xinjiang, China, on September 4, 2018. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Beijing has neither announced nor confirmed Tuniyaz’s plans to visit the UK and Europe.

The news only came after the UK Foreign Office wrote to Uyghur groups in the UK informing them of their plans to visit and asking them to submit their views.

After the foreign minister confirmed on 9 February that Mr Tuniyaz had not been invited from the UK but that officials would meet him if he arrived, MPs lashed out at the decision and said former Conservative leader with Sir Ian Duncan Smith of for the Chinese government. ”

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) MP Leo Doherty defended the decision to propose the talks, saying: “Institutionally, the FCDO would prefer not to deny the opportunity to go to extreme lengths. It is the judgment of “It is a strong and strong message of condemnation of the atrocities committed by the Chinese government in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.”

But Foreign Relations Committee Chair Alicia Kearns said it was “not enough” to approve an “official visit to one of the masterminds of this massacre.”

MPs urged the British government to sanction Tuniyaz, with Kearns saying that “meetings with him should only take place in court.”

Rahima Mahmut, UK director of the World Uyghur Congress and executive director of Stop Uyghur Genocide, previously told The Epoch Times that she was “incredibly hurt” by the foreign ministry’s agreement to meet with Tuniyaz. He said it would be “silly to suggest” that a conference would be held. Convince him to change course according to direct instructions from higher ups. ”

The EU also came under fire for preparing talks with Tuniyaz.

EU spokesman Peter Stano previously confirmed that “the meeting will be permitted” at China’s request, saying, “This is an opportunity to directly convey the EU’s long-standing concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang. I’m thinking,” he said.

The NGO Human Rights Watch said the UK and EU “should not be dragged into meetings with senior Xinjiang officials so that China can cover up its atrocities in the Uyghur region,” adding that “Tuniyaz and other Chinese Investigations and sanctions should be imposed on high-ranking officials.” role in crimes against humanity. ”