Demonstrators gathered in Paris on Saturday to demand an EU ban on products linked to the use of forced labour of Uighur minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. Speaking to FRANCE 24, Raphaël Glucksman, member of the European Parliament, accused European companies with interests in China of attempting to block EU efforts to ban forced labour products.
The demonstration came weeks after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans for an import ban on products made with forced labour.
In her State of the Union speech on September 15, von der Leyen said the EU can “never accept” that products made by forced labour “end up for sale in shops here in Europe”.
But speaking to FRANCE 24 from the rally at Place de la République, Raphaël Glucksman, member of the European Parliament, accused European companies with interests in China of blocking EU efforts to regulate the import of forced labour products.
“When we are in the European parliament for instance, we are not confronted with lobbies working for the Chinese government. When we want to take measures and pass legislation that will hurt Chinese interests, we are confronted with the representatives of European companies,” said Glucksman. “The strongest embassies for the Chinese Community Party today are the big European companies that have interests in China because China is essential for their production and essential as a market.”
A UN human rights report said at least one million ethnic Uighurs in China are held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.
China, however, denies the accusations and maintains the camps are for “reeducation” of Islamist militants.
The Uighurs of Xinjiang are mostly Muslim, and human rights activists accuse China of committing crimes against humanity on the ethnic minority community.