Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (112)

Maureen O'Sullivan


112. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the treatment of the Uighur population in the north-western provinces of China by the Chinese Government (details supplied); his plans to raise this at European level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44896/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government remains concerned about the credible reports of the treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region. We and our EU partners take these reports very seriously and have raised our concerns with our Chinese counterparts, in bilateral and multilateral contexts, on a consistent basis.

At the multilateral level, Ireland was among 23 countries that joined a Joint Statement on the human rights situation in Xinjiang at the UN Third Committee on 29 October 2019. This statement was delivered by the UK at the Interactive Dialogue with the Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Ireland was also one of 22 States to sign a letter which called for China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang, and to allow unrestricted access to independent observers. Ireland also participated in China’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), held last November. In our intervention we expressed concern at reports of the treatment of ethnic Uighurs, in particular their detention in political re-education camps, and called on China to respect freedom of religion and belief. We also recommended that China allow the OHCHR access to all regions of the country, including Xinjiang. I also raised this issue bilaterally with the Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Wang Chao, during political consultations in Dublin last year.

At EU level, this issue was raised at both the EU-China Summit and EU-China Human Rights Dialogue in April this year. During the dialogue the EU noted that while actions to counter terrorism are essential, these actions must respect the principle of proportionality, fundamental freedoms, and international laws. The EU has also raised this issue at multilateral level, calling on China to allow meaningful, unrestricted, and unsupervised access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The protection and promotion of universal human rights is one of Ireland’s core foreign policy issues, and Ireland and the EU will continue to raise these issues during both political and official contacts with the Chinese authorities.