Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to take action against human rights abuses in China, following UK polling undertaken by an anti-racism campaign group.
Hope Not Hate conducted polling that explored the feelings of UK citizens on reports of genocide and serious human rights abuses under the Chinese regime.
A significant majority of those surveyed want the UK Government to take a firm stand to end human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region against Uighur Muslims and to stop the restriction of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. In recent years, people facing persecution in both places have sought refuge in the UK.
In the polling seen by i, of the 1,500 people surveyed, 77% agreed that the international community should take action to push China to rectify its human rights record. The figure rose to 79% among Conservative voters surveyed.
Those surveyed would not support working with any company linked to the exploitation of its workers. Their support would go to any athletes who elect to protest China’s human rights abuses at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The poll revealed that 76% of respondents would refuse to purchase products or services if the company was linked to slave labour or genocide.
“The British public know what is happening to the Uighur people in Xinjiang and they are outraged,” said Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate. “They want the UK Government to take a stand, and they’re ready to take action themselves, by changing their shopping habits if companies are found to be complicit.”
Lowles continued: “As the Tokyo Olympics come to a close, attention will turn to Beijing, and the message is clear: if Team GB athletes protest against the genocide of Uighur people in the Winter Olympics, the British Olympic Committee must back them to the hilt. There is a genocide happening right now in China. For ‘never again’ to mean something, we need to take a stance as a country, and do it right now.”
A Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: “The UK Government has led international efforts to hold China to account for its human rights violations in Xinjiang at the UN.
“We have also imposed sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans on senior Chinese government officials, and announced measures to help ensure no UK organisations are complicit in these violations through their supply chains.”