French parliament passes motion condemning China 'genocide' against Uighur minority

Activists take part in a protest against China's treatment of its ethnic Uighur people, in Jakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - France's parliament passed an opposition-led motion asking the government to condemn China for "crimes against humanity and genocide" against its Uighur Muslim minority and to take foreign policy measures to make this stop.

The non-binding motion, led by the Socialist party and supported by several other opposition parties, was adopted with 169 votes for and one vote against.

Coming ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics in China, the motion also asked the government to protect Uighur residents in France against any intimidation or harassment by China.

China's embassy in France said accusations of genocide or other abuses committed against its Uighur population were "pure lies".

Activists and UN rights experts say at least one million Muslims are being detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations.

China denies any human rights abuses in Xinjiang and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

"The sensationalist allegations concerning Xinjiang such as 'genocide' are pure lies based on prejudices and hostility towards China," the Chinese embassy in France said in a statement on its website.

It added that Xinjiang issues were not about ethnicity, religion or human rights, but about the fight against terrorism, radicalisation and separatism, which concern sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security of China.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the resolution.

“The French National Assembly’s resolution on Xinjiang ignores facts and legal knowledge and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on Friday (Jan 21). “China firmly opposes it.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said in December that he did not want to "politicise" the Olympics.

The United States, Australia and Britain are among Western nations that have said they will not send officials to the 2022 Winter Olympics in order to send China a message over its human rights record.

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