China cables: Merkel concerned, opposition outraged, Beijing in denial

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The German government has expressed its concern over the reports on detention camps in China and demanded access to the alleged “education centres”. China, however, called the presented documents forgeries.

After secret government documents about the systematic oppression and surveillance of Uighurs in northwestern China became known, the German government demanded that Beijing give international experts access to the controversial camps.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner must be granted unhindered access to the facilities. “These are reports that give us the highest level of concern,” Seibert said. Sanctions against China, however, are not planned, nor are there any plans to influence German companies wishing to invest in the region.

Foreign Ministry hopes for “further dialogue”

Maria Adabahr, spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office, called on the Chinese government to improve the human rights situation. “The German government has expressed great concern about the reports and suspected conditions in the camps. This is now an opportunity for further dialogue.”

For some time now, she continued, Berlin had been in “very serious talks” with the Chinese government on the subject of the Uighurs, which included the demand that the Federal Government’s Ombudsman for Human Rights could visit the region. “We naturally continue to call on the Chinese government to improve the human rights situation there, which is blatantly bad.”

FDP politician Gyde Jensen calls for sanctions

Gyde Jensen, Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee of the German Bundestag, said the China Cables had documented “systematic violence and persecution”. “Beijing must answer to the international community for this cultural genocide,” the FDP politician said. “The time has come for Europe and the Federal Republic to consider sanctions.”

Green politicians demand further consequences

Green Party Bundestag leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt called on the federal government to take a tough stance against China. “The German government should immediately appoint the Chinese ambassador and make it clear that the persecution of the Uighurs must be stopped,” she said, “Germany should also campaign for individual EU sanctions against those responsible, above all against the party leader of the Chinese region Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo.”

Margarete Bause, spokeswoman for the Green parliamentary group on human rights, said it was high time that the German government put this issue at the top of the political agenda in its dealings with China. Chancellor Angela Merkel had to speak out clearly on these “most serious human rights violations of our time and condemn them”. Bause also demanded that the Chinese ambassador in Germany be summoned and confronted with the accusations. In addition, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas should put the issue on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

China rejects accusations

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman commented that this was an internal Chinese matter. A stable and prosperous Xinjiang would be the best answer to the slanderous reports.

The British “Guardian” quoted the Chinese embassy in London as saying the published documents were “pure invention and fake news”. The Chinese leadership has always denied allegations to systematically suppress Uighurs. Missions against members of the minority served the fight against Islamic extremism.

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