Tuesday, May 21, 2024
 
 

Western corporations must be held accountable for their role in China’s Uyghur genocide

East Turkistan Government in Exile
East Turkistan protestors in front of the U.S. State Department, Washington D.C. in 2021

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In recent testimony before the Senate, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that “the Biden Administration should be sanctioning human rights violations” there and that “there is no appeasement.” Secretary Yellen expressed openness to any guidance for how the Biden Administration could use the tools at their disposal to punish companies profiting from the enslavement of the peoples of East Turkistan. Simply put, any and all companies operating in East Turkistan, the occupied homeland of my peoples that China calls “Xinjiang,” not only profit from slavery but are active agents of genocide. 

It’s crucial for the United States to immediately recognize companies involved in the Uyghur genocide as complicit, and to urge its allies to take a stand alongside it. The involvement of Western companies in business dealings with Chinese state-owned enterprises, overseen by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), highlights a dire need. This situation calls for a concerted effort to strengthen the norms of international law, ensuring a robust, long-term strategy to effectively address and counter these human rights abuses.

Building on this imperative, the United States must spearhead an international effort, rallying its allies to impose similar sanctions on companies involved in the atrocities within East Turkistan. Unity in the international community is crucial for condemning and sanctioning those who profit from genocide and slavery. By forging alliances with nations that share its commitment to human rights, the U.S. can significantly amplify its impact, delivering a clear and powerful message to the world: such abuses have no place in our global society and will not be tolerated.

The profound link between profits from Uyghur slavery and genocide and the Chinese state bolsters the Chinese government’s economic power, increasing its undue influence, especially over Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. This influence is leveraged to coerce governments into deporting members of the East Turkistani diaspora, exacerbating the suffering of my people.

Additionally, the continued colonization and occupation of East Turkistan by China have heightened the economic exploitation and atrocities against Uyghur and other Turkic peoples. The systematic mass internment, enslavement, and eradication of Uyghur/Turkic culture, language, and religion, along with Beijing’s forced assimilation policies, amount to genocide. The relentless endeavor to suppress and eradicate Uyghur/Turkic identity in favor of a uniform Han Chinese culture reveals the Chinese government’s fascistic imperialist ambitions in East Turkistan.

The accumulation of economic power through these malevolent means poses a significant global threat, enabling China to assert dominance in international affairs and undermine democratic principles and norms. The atrocities in East Turkistan and the economic exploitation that fuels them cannot be ignored.

The Biden Administration’s commitment to sanctioning human rights violations must lead to tangible actions against companies benefiting from genocide in East Turkistan. This includes imposing targeted sanctions, freezing assets, and enacting other punitive measures to hold these entities accountable for their involvement in the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in East Turkistan. Furthermore, the United States must collaborate with its allies to develop a comprehensive, multilateral strategy for addressing these issues, ensuring there are no safe havens for companies that profit from genocide.

Enhancing international norms and laws governing corporate accountability is paramount. The international community must develop clear guidelines for corporate conduct in conflict zones, imposing legal consequences on companies that engage in or benefit from human rights abuses, regardless of their nationality or ownership structure.

By taking decisive action against companies involved in genocide in East Turkistan, the United States and its allies can send a powerful message that such atrocities will not be tolerated. This stance is crucial for upholding human rights and justice and for maintaining global stability and security. The international community must unite against genocide and slavery, holding both perpetrators and profiteers accountable.

The battle against atrocities in East Turkistan requires a collective effort. The European Union (EU), as a significant global actor, must take decisive steps against companies implicated in these grave abuses. Sharing values of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law with the United States, the EU must also align its policies with those of the U.S. in condemning and sanctioning companies profiting from genocide in East Turkistan. Such alignment will enhance the impact of these measures and express strong solidarity with the Uyghur people.

Earlier this month when Secretary Yellen met with Chinese leaders during her visit she, and all speaking for the United States during state visits to China, must do more than condemn Chinese human rights abuses. Secretary Yellen did well to speak of China’s supply glut and the harm it would cause to economies and workers around the world. But global leaders must do more. She failed to dig deeper, calling out the way China achieves such cheap production. They achieve this with state owned enterprises, operating in violation of global trade rules on government subsidies, which rely on genocidal slave labor. The Chinese trade surplus is literally built on the backs of the enslaved peoples of East Turkistan. The depth of those atrocities must be said aloud, especially when Western leaders visit China, and the perpetrators punished. World leaders must acknowledge and hold to account all companies, Chinese or foreign, which benefit from these horrors. Beyond warnings and lectures, all those with power to do so must hold all of these companies to account. The world is watching. Our collective actions will be judged by history.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Security at East Turkistan Government in Exile

Salih Hudayar is the leader of the East Turkistan National Movement and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Security of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. A refugee and tireless advocate, he champions the rights and external self-determination of Turkic peoples in East Turkistan.

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