Lawmakers in Britain voted Thursday to recognize that the Chinese government is carrying out a genocide against the Uyghurs, numerous sources reported.
The House of Commons passed a resolution Thursday condemning China’s “mass human rights abuses and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region,” according to CNN. Britain joins the U.S. — which became the first country in the world to formally recognize that the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide in January — after its declaration.
Other countries that have recognized the human rights abuses in Xinjiang include Canada and the Netherlands, according to CNN. (RELATED:‘They Think The 21st Century Will Be The Chinese Communist Century:’ Report Shows China’s Crackdown On Religious Freedom)
The Chinese government is accused of operating detention centers in Xinjiang and detaining up to 2 million Uyghur Muslim minorities, often for wearing long beards, refusing alcohol, or showing signs of “religious extremism.” Detainees of the camps have reported torture, rape, and forced sterilization.
According to the United Nations, genocide is defined as acts committed to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. Genocide can include killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm, and imposing measures to prevent births within the group.
The motion does not compel the British government to enact any policy in response to the genocide recognition, but it is likely to hurt relations between Britain and China.
In March, China imposed sanctions on several British lawmakers who have been outspoken about human rights atrocities in China.
Among them is a Tory member of Parliament (MP) Nusrat Ghani, who introduced the motion, and told lawmakers that “while we must never misuse the term genocide, we must not fail to use it when it’s warranted,” according to CNN.
“The work does not stop here,” Ghani said, according to the Guardian. “We cannot continue business as usual with China while these atrocities continue. The government must now act urgently to ensure our supply chains are not tainted by goods made with Uyghur forced labour.”
China’s embassy accused British lawmakers of having “cooked up” the motion in an effort to discredit China, and rejected claims of genocide in Xinjiang as “the most preposterous lie of the century.”
“The Chinese Government is earnestly implementing the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, drawing lessons from similar actions of other countries and carrying out de-radicalization work in accordance with law,” the statement said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to be transparent with the international community to prove its claims that human rights abuses are not occurring.
If they have nothing to hide, show it to us. Show the world,” Blinken said before the House Foreign Relations Committee in March.
Numerous U.S. lawmakers have called attention to the plight of Uyghurs in China.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons proposed legislation in April that would aid Uyghurs in China by prioritizing them for refugee resettlement in the U.S.
Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Democratic Florida Rep. Ted Deutch introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives a month earlier.