China – Situation of Uighurs – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate (9 March 2021)


You rightly mentioned the unjustifiable practices taking place in Xinjiang. All of what you say is happening – forced sterilizations, sexual abuse in camps, disappearances, mass detentions, forced labour, the destruction of cultural heritage beginning with places of worship, putting the population under surveillance – has been proven. And it’s why on France’s behalf, before the United Nations Human Rights Council, as you kindly pointed out, I spoke a few days ago about the fact that this is an institutionalized system of surveillance and repression on a large scale. I said this at the United Nations and I repeat it here, at the Senate; that was a few days ago.

I’d like to reiterate here the call I’ve made insistently for an impartial, independent, transparent mission of international experts to go to Xinjiang as soon as possible, under the responsibility of Mme Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

I’d also like to repeat that French firms are responsible for ensuring the greatest vigilance, including as parent companies, about risks linked to the value chain and the need to prevent serious attacks on the fundamental rights of Uighurs. That is essential.

I’d also like to tell you that we’ve worked to ensure that, during the investment agreement between the European Union and China, the obligation to subscribe to the International Labour Organization’s Forced Labour Convention was put on the table by France, and we very much intend to ensure it is respected.

Finally, we’re working today with our European colleagues on having a common position, after documenting the facts, assessing them and consequently taking the initiatives we’ve got to take, which you partly mentioned, following the European Parliament’s vote.

Watch Jean-Yves le Drian addresses the Senate: