Thank you for contacting me about forced labour and human rights in Xinjiang, China and Chen Quanguo, a senior official in the Chinese Communist Party.
I am proud that the UK prioritises the promotion of human rights internationally; working to uphold and defend international rule of law, the values of liberal democracy and the rights and freedoms of citizens around the world.
Like you, I am incredibly concerned by reports of human rights abuses and forced labour against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. The UK regularly makes representations to the Chinese Government on this, and has repeatedly called on China to allow UN experts unfettered access to Xinjiang at the UN, including in a recent joint statement with 38 other countries at the UN Third Committee last October. China has thus far refused engage in these efforts, but I know that Ministers and UK officials will continue to lead the international effort to bring about such access and hold China to account.
The UK Government is also taking a number of steps, through the Modern Slavery Act and other means, to ensure no British organisation, public or private, unwittingly or otherwise, is allowed to profit from forced labour or contribute to human rights violations in China. I support all measures to this effect, as recently announced by the Foreign Secretary, which include: providing robust guidance to UK firms on the specific risks faced by companies linked to Xinjiang; fines for companies who fail to meet their transparency obligations; extending such obligations to the public sector, and banning any company found profiting from forced labour from all Government procurement; and an urgent review into all export controls to Xinjiang, ensuring that no UK exports are in any way contributing to human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other minorities in China.
I welcome that in July 2020, the UK Government established the Global Human Rights sanctions regime. I am told that the Government keeps all evidence and potential listings under close review. I have ensured Ministers are aware of the suggestion you have made about sanctioning Chen Quanguo. However, it is not appropriate for me to speculate on who may be designated in the future, as to do so could reduce the impact of the designations.
I will of course continue to follow this situation closely and urge UK officials to keep up their important diplomatic work.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.