China has become a key campaign issue for Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative party in the UK, and therefore for Prime Minister. Sunak has said that China is the biggest threat to the UK and has promised policies including a ban on Confucius Institutes at UK universities. Truss says she will take a hard line on China and has spoken about the plight of Tibetans and Uyghurs at the UN. Free Tibet is calling on both candidates to go much further and promise to take concrete action to help those suffering under Chinese government repression.
We believe that while the candidates’ assessment of Xi Jinping’s government as a threat to national security is correct, that none of the proposed policies will do anything to help those who suffer most at their hands – the Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hongkongers and others who live under Chinese rule or occupation.
Tibet is the least free country on earth. Every day, Tibetans face constant surveillance, arbitrary arrest and religious and cultural repression. In recent years, China has turned Tibet into a police state, ruled with the most sophisticated system of terror and surveillance in human history. Because it’s so hard to get any information out of Tibet, you won’t often hear about it on the news. The situation there is almost certainly even worse than we know. For too long world leaders have looked the other way in the name of creating economic ties.
The same economic ties they now say threaten our country. China thinks it can get away with the crimes it is committing and that the outside world will be too distracted – or dependent – to take action to stop it.
But, real action is possible and we call on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to commit to three simple things in order to support Tibetans:
- Sanctions against key architects of abuses against Tibetans and Uyghurs, in particular Chen Quanguo, the former Party Secretary of both Tibet and Xinjiang.
- A UK-wide ban on companies that enable China’s human rights abuses, including Hikvision, whose CCTV cameras are used by the majority of UK public bodies despite being largely owned by the Chinese government and having massive security flaws.
- Pushing China to stop its repression of religious and cultural freedom, including releasing the Panchen Lama and recognising that the succession of the Dalai Lama is strictly a matter for Tibetans.