Politicians from Left Right and Centre Unite in the UK Parliament To Challenge Human Rights Violations Against Uighurs In Xinjiang And Say That Telecom Companies That Aid and Abet Egregious Abuses Should Not Be allowed To Be Involved In UK Telecoms – Cross-Party Op Ed From The Daily Telegraph
The full parliamentary debate can be read here:
The speeches of the four Movers of the All -Party Amendment also appear here:
An Urgent Question was also asked in the House of Commons by the former leader of the Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP:
The Daily Telegraph: June 28th 2020
Human Rights, Uighurs, and Huawei: Time For Helsinki with Chinese Characteristics – say Four Members of the House of Lords
Michael Forsyth, David Alton, Kishwer Falkner, and Andrew Adonis
We lived through the Cold War, and all of us have wondered how political leaders of the time would have responded to the challenge now posed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Faced with Soviet Communism, would Margaret Thatcher or Ernest Bevin have allowed it, and the companies it controls, access to the UK’s critical infrastructure – compromising defence and national security?
And how would they have responded to the suffering of millions of its victims?
Of course, we know exactly how the free world responded – and, with the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, we know the final outcome.
Throughout those decades we never lowered our guard. We stood together, fearlessly defended our values and, through the Helsinki Process, made the defence of human rights a touchstone of our response.
When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn opened our eyes to the horrors of the gulags – and after hearing the testimonies of escaping refuseniks and dissidents – we didn’t refuse to listen. And we certainly weren’t gullible enough to confuse engagement and dialogue with handing over large swathes of our economy and strategic interests to the perpetrators.
Forty years later, and from a range of different political backgrounds, we make no apology for challenging the contemporary horrors being visited, in a new Cultural Revolution, by the Chinese Communist Party, on millions of its citizens, including the Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, who are subjected to mass incarceration, torture, and egregious violations of human rights.
It is why we have tabled a hard-headed all-party amendment, being considered in the House of Lords today.
Our amendment would impose a human rights threshold which the Chinese Communist Party and its appendage, State-controlled Huawei – would have to traverse to be able to operate in the UK in the future. Let’s call it Helsinki with Chinese characteristics.
The interconnected nature of global digital supply chains is not in dispute. And Huawei boasts that it already operates in 170 countries – including the UK. We also know that once a supplier is embedded into our 5G telecommunications infrastructure, it is extremely complex, technologically challenging and expensive to remove it if our security is compromised. If there is ever a case for the use of the precautionary principle, it is now.
Our amendment directly challenges the wisdom of allowing companies like Huawei to gain further access to our telecommunications infrastructure and to entrench itself further within our 5G network. And we make the violation of human rights the acid test.
Since the current legislation was first mooted there has been a sea change in the political climate and mood in Parliament – and that has been re-enforced by the emergence of more and more evidence.
The known partnership between Huawei and Xinjiang’s Security Bureau is not in dispute.
A Xinjiang news press release quoted a Huawei Director as saying: ‘Together with the Public Security Bureau, Huawei will unlock a new era of smart policing and help build a safer, smarter society.’
This “smarter society” has been described by Professor Adrian Zenz, a German scholar, as “The largest detention of an ethno-religious minority since World War II”.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute meticulously details the global expansion of 23 key Chinese technology companies and one of their researchers, Vicky Xu, says that the idea that Huawei is not working directly with local governments in Xinjiang is “just straight-up nonsense”.
Senior members of the House of Commons, including the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, have written to the Foreign Secretary urging him to “cease consideration of Huawei as contractors or partners for the UK’s 5G infrastructure until investigations have been conducted into Huawei’s work in Xinjiang and its relationship to the mass persecution”.
Our amendment gives flesh to those bones.
Nor does our Government dispute any of this.
Home Office Ministers tell us that “The UK Government has expressed its concerns about China’s systematic human rights violations in Xinjiang, including credible and growing reports of forced labour, during the recent UN Human Rights Council.”
“Credible and growing reports of forced labour” and an expression of our concern at the UN Human Rights Council, surely cannot mean it can be a case of business as usual.
Note too that our amendment is being considered as the Chinese Communist Party, under the cover of Covid19, enacts a new Security Law targeting the freedoms of Hong Kong; as a new report today details the coercive sterilisation of Uighur women; and in another report due to be published this morning, Professor Zenz sets out further previously unpublished evidence of the relationship between Huawei and the Communist State.
Responding to Huawei’s statement that they “don’t know” how their customers use their technology and that they do not engage directly with Xinjiang’s security services, he says: “Both statements are falsehoods. The company does engage in business with the security services in Xinjiang, worked with them for years on dedicated, custom-made security solutions, and it even proudly advertises how they are being operated. In 2014, Huawei received an award from Xinjiang’s Ministry of Public Security for its role in establishing citywide surveillance systems.”
After analysing the evidence, Professor Zenz says “We must conclude that Huawei is directly implicated in Beijing police state and related human rights violations in Xinjiang, and that it has lied to the public about this fact on at least two different occasions.”
Given all that we now know, the question for Parliament is whether it is willing to turn a blind eye and let Huawei march on regardless. 5G is a gamechanger, and our citizens need to know that we are protecting them.
In asking the Government to reconsider its opposition to our amendment we have urged them to look again at the evidence and to come forward with their own amendment at the Bill’s Third Reading. Otherwise, if they refuse to do that, they should be in no doubt, we will take this to a vote.
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench), Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Conservative), Baroness Falkner of Margravine (Crossbench) and Lord Adonis (Labour) are the four sponsors of an all-party amendment to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill before the House of Lords today. The amendment is also supported by the Liberal Democrat and Green Peers