China slammed New Zealand on Thursday for “baseless” allegations of Uyghur mistreatment, highlighting Wellington’s struggle to find common ground between its larger trading partner and its traditional Western allies.
Beijing expressed its anger after New Zealand’s parliament on Wednesday passed a watered-down motion expressing “grave concern” over human rights violations involving the Uyghur Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang province.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ruling Labor Party insisted that any reference to the genocide had been removed from the motion, which had been submitted by a small opposition party, but the move failed to appease the Chinese Embassy in Wellington.
The embassy said in a statement that the New Zealand parliament was meddling in issues regarding China’s sovereignty.
“This decision grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and goes against international law and basic standards governing international relations,” he said.
“The Chinese side strongly deplores and opposes such action. “
The embassy said the motion “will damage mutual trust between China and New Zealand.”
At least one million Uyghurs and people belonging to other predominantly Muslim minorities have been detained in camps in Xinjiang, according to rights groups, which accuse authorities of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing punishments. imposed labour.
Ardern’s center-left government has been noticeably less vocal than its allies in condemning the abuses, leading to accusations that it is a weak link in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance led by the United States, which also includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Ardern acknowledged this week that New Zealand-China human rights differences were becoming “more difficult to reconcile,” but said his government would continue to report areas of concern to Beijing.
However, allies like Australia have been much more outspoken in their criticism, encouraging punitive levies by Beijing on more than a dozen Australian imports, including wine and barley.
China on Thursday suspended regular bilateral trade talks with Australia, a move Canberra called “disappointing.”
© 2021 AFP