Japan’s parliament yesterday passed a rare resolution expressing concern over rights issues in China, including the treatment of its Uyghur and Hong Kong Muslim population, ahead of the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The resolution, passed by the lower house, says the international community has expressed concern over issues including internment and violations of religious freedom in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tibet and Hong Kong.
“Human rights issues cannot be solely national issues, as human rights embody universal values and constitute a matter of legitimate concern for the international community,” the resolution states.
“This chamber strongly recognizes the changes to the status quo, which are symbolized by the grave human rights situation, as a threat to the international community,” she said.
The wording of the resolution proposed by a bipartisan group was reportedly watered down after lengthy discussions, avoiding directly accusing Beijing of rights abuses.
However, it comes at a time when the focus is on China’s rights record as the country prepares to host the Games from Friday to February 20.
Tokyo has sought to tread a cautious line in its approach to China, balancing pressure on Beijing from its close ally Washington. The United States and China are Japan’s main trading partners.
The resolution also calls on the Japanese government to engage constructively on rights issues in China.
Beijing called the resolution a “serious political provocation”.
The resolution “grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said, adding that “China reserves the right to take further action.”
China has long denied accusations over its treatment of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim Turks, including a US allegation that it committed genocide.
Experts have estimated that more than a million people are incarcerated in camps in the Xinjiang region.
Similarly, Beijing has denied claims that Tibetans live under strict surveillance with the threat of imprisonment or abuse for any sign of non-Chinese identity, including possession of images of the Dalai Lama – their exiled spiritual leader. .
In Hong Kong, Japan has repeatedly expressed “serious concerns” about its electoral system as China increases control of the territory, sparking huge pro-democracy protests.
Japan said in December it would not send government officials to the Beijing Olympics, calling on China to respect human rights and the rule of law.
The move came after the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada announced diplomatic boycotts of the Games over what they see as widespread rights abuses by China.
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