LONDON — British ministers are preparing to ban the government from buying health products from China’s Xinjiang region, while Conservative MPs are mounting pressure on Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur people.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, is averting the risk of a major rebellion in his own party next week with a change in Britain’s Health and Care Act that would seek to “eradicate” slavery from healthcare supply chains.
Legislation could require private companies to obtain NHS contracts to meet criteria on modern slavery grounds, potentially creating a blacklist of companies that have failed the UK test.
Tory rebels had prepared the force to shake hands with the government next week if the bill is to return to the House of Commons.
China has been accused of abusing forced labor in Xinjiang. Uyghur activists and international experts say China is trying to control the Muslim population there through forced sterilizations, brainwashing in camps and mosque demolitions.
The change is not aimed at companies in any particular country, but reflects ministers’ concerns about the Chinese government’s practices in Xinjiang, a key hub for global supply chains and source of much of the world’s cotton.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who is leading the rebellion, welcomed Javid’s “significant move”.
He said: “I urge all other government agencies to do the same as soon as possible. We will send the strongest signal to those around the world who exploit and terrorize those weaker than themselves that the swords of justice are upon their trail.”
Anti-slavery campaigners, meanwhile, hailed the move as “the biggest advance in modern slavery legislation” since Britain began combating the practice in 2015.
The move effectively reinforces a House of Lords amendment to the Health and Care Act sponsored by former Tory chief whip David Maclean, known as Lord Blencathra.
Luke de Pulford, CEO of anti-slavery charity Arise, who was pushing for the change, said: “This is by far the biggest advance in modern slavery legislation since the Modern Slavery Act 2015. In fact, it is far more significant in what it lays out raises the bar for public procurement massively.”
De Pulford added: “This takes Sajid Javid’s department a long way forward on human rights issues and great credit goes to him, his officers and Sir Iain Duncan Smith who have worked so hard to make this a reality.”
Rahima Mahmut of the World Uyghur Congress said: “It means so much to my people that people in other countries are opposing China. For too long the UK has pretended it was possible to increase trade with China while denouncing its human rights atrocities. I hope this is the beginning of the end of China’s trade impunity and would like to personally thank Sajid Javid, whom I met the other night and believed when he told me he was doing “everything in his power” for the Uyghur people do. ”
https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-ministers-ready-ban-on-health-care-goods-from-china-xinjiang-beijing/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication British ministers prepare to ban health supplies from China's Xinjiang - POLITICO