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The report on which this debate is focused was compiled by Dr Adrian Zenz. Dr Zenz is an advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

The report was released on 22 September by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based institute that focuses on policy issues of strategic importance to the U.S.

According to a statement from IPAC, the report raises concerns about:

A large-scale mandatory “vocational training” program, enlisting over 500,000 laborers [sic] in the region, together with accounts of enforced indoctrination, intrusive surveillance, military-style enforcement, and harsh punishments for those who fail to meet labor [sic] transfer quotas. The program appears disturbingly reminiscent of coercive vocational training and mass labor [sic] transfers imposed by the Chinese authorities in the Uyghur region.[1]

Reuters, the international news agency, said in an article published on the same day as the report that it had “corroborated Zenz’s findings and found additional policy documents, company reports, procurement filings and state media reports that describe the program”.[2]

In a statement to Reuters, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly denied the involvement of forced labour, and said China is a country with rule of law and that workers are voluntary and properly compensated:

What these people with ulterior motives are calling ‘forced labor’[sic] simply does not exist. We hope the international community will distinguish right from wrong, respect facts, and not be fooled by lies.[3]

China remains a human rights ‘priority country’ for the UK, one of 30 in total.

The 2019 Foreign Office ‘Human Rights and Democracy’ report, published in July 2020, says this on Tibet:

Restrictions targeted at ethnic minorities continued in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas. British diplomats visited Tibet in July—the first time a request to visit has been accepted since the British Ambassador visited in 2017. They raised concerns about religious freedom in Tibet and the case of Gedhun Choekyui Nyima, the Dalai Lama’s choice of Panchen Lama, who remains missing.[4]

[1]               Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, ‘Prevalence of forced labor in the Tibetan Autonomous Region’, 22 September 2020.

[2]               ‘Exclusive: China sharply expands mass labor program in Tibet’, Reuters, 22 September 2020.

[3]               Ibid.

[4]               Foreign & Commonwealth Office, ‘Foreign Human Rights and Democracy: The 2019 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report’, page 42, 16 July 2020.

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