The U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue: Time to press China to close the camps holding a million Uyghurs

For immediate release

November 8, 2018 12:00 pm EST

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

In an unprecedented public rebuke to the Chinese government, 24 states raised the repression of Uyghurs at the UN review in Geneva on November 6. 

The United States submitted three strong questions in advance of the UN review, and in its official statement called for all Uyghurs held in arbitrary detention to be released. The U.S. also called for the release of Professor Ilham Tohti, a beloved economics teacher serving a severely unjust life sentence. 

Strong lines of questioning on the massive extralegal detention of the Uyghur population also came from the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Australia.  In total, 14 nations raised the issue of the camps.

In advance of the UN review civil society organizations, including UHRP, faced difficulties in ensuring the state delegations were fully informed due to exclusion of their reports in the initial stakeholder summary.  Despite this, the international community demonstrated that the issue cannot be ignored.

“UHRP warmly thanks all the nations which called for the Chinese government to close the camps, ” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat. “They should continue to drive home this unified message in upcoming bi-lateral and multi-lateral engagements.”

This week in Washington, the United States and China are moving forward with the postponed U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue on Friday, November 9th.  The Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs should not be ignored at the talks. 

The Chinese government’s disregard for basic international standards has profound implications for the security of the United States and the international community. East Turkestan has been transformed into a laboratory for new forms of total surveillance and control, creating the potential for high-tech repression to be exported around the world.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis should impress upon the Chinese delegation that China’s repressive model of governance is a matter of serious concern for the United States and its commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.