China ratifies international forced labor conventions

China flags
(Photo: Envato Elements)
BEIJING — China’s lawmakers on Wednesday announced that it ratified two international conventions against forced labor, months after UN experts voiced concerns over the country’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities — particularly in the Xinjiang region.اضافة اعلان

Beijing’s approvals come as the country faces accusations of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including forced labor.

Rights groups estimate at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in “reeducation camps” there — allegations that Beijing roundly rejects.

The UK and US have been among vocal critics of China’s treatment of minorities in Xinjiang, with the US State Department previously calling on China to “end its genocide and crimes against humanity” in the region.

On Wednesday, China’s top legislature approved the ratification of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Forced Labor Convention, as well as the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, according to official announcements on the National People’s Congress website.

Labor rights have been a fraught issue in China, with a committee of 20 experts appointed by the ILO taking China to task in its annual report published in February.

The group expressed “deep concern” after assessing the treatment of minorities, and evaluated allegations in late 2020 that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities were systematically being forced to work in agriculture.

The expert committee called on Beijing to reorient “the mandate of vocational training and education centers from political reeducation based on administrative detention”.

China has lashed out at accusations of forced labor as untrue and politically motivated.

Members who ratify the two conventions are obliged to suppress and not use any form of forced or compulsory labor, according the ILO’s website.

The country is expecting a visit by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet in May, in a long-delayed visit that includes a trip to Xinjiang.

There have long been calls for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang and publish her office’s findings.

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