Rebel Tories are looking to introduce a mechanism in the Brexit trade bill which allows British courts to determine whether a foreign country has committed genocide. The amendment, added in the House of Lords, was introduced specifically over allegations China has committed human rights abuses against its Uighur Muslim population.
The trade bill will return to the House of Commons today, after passing in the Lords with a majority of 129 votes.
According to reports, 30 Tories expected to vote for the amendment, and at least 15 set to abstain.
The Conservative Muslim Forum, the International Bar Association and the Muslim Council of Britain have all sponsored the amendment.
Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, and Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey and former health secretary, are understood to support the amendment.
Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden in East Sussex, also said to fellow party members: “Over 50 years ago the UK signed the UN Genocide Convention, to ensure that atrocities like the Holocaust could ‘never again’ take place.
“Britain must not look the other way on the genocide that is happening today in China.”
READ MORE: IDS urges Boris to use Brexit powers to ban China trade – ‘We can lead the world on this!’
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory leader, spearheaded the calls for the amendment to be added so the UK “can lead the world” on policing human rights.
In an interview with Sky News, he said: “There is no way the UK should reward any country that is ghastly in terms of what it does to its own people with a trade advantage.
“Since the Second World War we have protested about the concept of genocide but literally nothing has ever been done.
“This will send a signal of hope to the Uighurs that the world cares about what is happening to them.”
China has regularly been accused of committing human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
The US-based Congressional-Executive Commission on China said recently “new evidence emerged that crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide— are occurring” in Xinjiang.
BBC’s Andrew Marr also showed former Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming drone footage of Uighur’s being blindfolded and led to trains in July last year.
Mr Liu denied the video showed evidence of concentration camps, and replied: “There is no such concentration camps in Xinjiang. There’s a lot of fake accusations against China.”
British and Chinese relations have suffered over the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong.
After the Chinese Government passed security legislation last July, allowing it to curb freedom of expression in the city, Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed outrage.
He said: “We have made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route to those with British national (overseas) status to enter the UK granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now.”
The UK Government also committed to scrapping Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from its 5G network by 2027, enraging China.