The Government continues to be concerned at the credible reports with regard to the treatment of Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Ireland, along with our EU partners, continues to raise this issue directly in our bilateral context with China, and at multilateral levels. These interventions have placed a particular focus on our concern with the system of political re-education camps in Xinjiang, as well as the widespread surveillance and restrictions which is predominantly targeted at Uighurs. We have called on China to allow meaningful, unsupervised and unrestricted access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant UN Special Procedures mandate holders.
At a bilateral level, I discussed the subject with China's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Wang Chao, during political consultations held in Dublin last year. Ireland's concerns about the situation in Xinjiang are also raised in our contacts with the Chinese Embassy in Dublin and through our Embassy in Beijing.
As I have noted in this House previously, the EU had a detailed discussion with China during the most recent EU-China Human Rights Dialogue in April 2019. During the discussion, the EU stressed that, while actions to counter terrorism are essential, such measures must respect the principle of proportionality, fundamental freedoms and international laws. The issue was also raised during the EU-China Summit in the same month.
In the multilateral context, the EU has consistently raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang in recent sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), including the 41st Session of the Council which is currently underway in Geneva.
Ireland and a significant number of EU Member States participated in China’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November 2018. Ireland urged China to respect freedom of religion and belief and recommended that China grant access to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to all regions of the country, including Xinjiang.
We will continue to raise these issues in the future, in both bilateral and multilateral forums.