On 17th June Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of their relationship with the government of China; whether they intend to alter that relationship; and if so, how they intend to do so”. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question, focusing on freedom of religion and belief.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, inevitably, trade and defence issues will play an important part in our relationship with China. Will the Minister assure us that issues of freedom of religion or belief will not be overlooked? Estimates suggest that between 900,000 and 1.8 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang province. What plans have the Government made to join our American allies in sanctioning those responsible for the oppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate raises an important human rights issue, and in particular the situation of the Uighurs in China. He will know that, as Human Rights Minister, I have consistently raised this issue, as has my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, both through bilateral engagement with the Chinese authorities and the Chinese Government, and through the Human Rights Council, as we are currently doing—yesterday a statement was made specifically on Hong Kong. We are working with other partners, a point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, to ensure that there is consistency of message and delivery. Where there are human rights abuses, we will stand up, with our partners, and challenge China, to ensure that the rights of all are guaranteed.