At the end of a three-day session, the Chinese Parliament ratified on Wednesday April 20 two conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) which prohibit forced labor. A notable change of direction when China had always refused to ratify the texts of this UN organization.
→ REREAD. The National Assembly denounces the “genocide” of the Uyghurs by China
Under pressure from the European Union, the standing committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress finally seems to have turned around, signing one after the other the 1930 convention on forced labor as well as the 1957 convention on the abolition of forced labor. These ratifications were one of the conditions set by the EU to ratify a bilateral investment agreement signed at the end of 2020.
Concern over the Uyghur community
Last February, a committee of ILO experts expressed its “deep concern” about the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in China. According to human rights organizations, at least 1 million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnicities are or have been incarcerated in camps located in Xinjiang, in the northwest of the country. Accusations that Beijing continues to deny, claiming that they are vocational training centers intended to keep them away from terrorism and separatism.
The subject worries the international community, which has been trying for several years to put pressure on China. A law prohibiting the purchase of products that would be made from the forced labor of Uyghurs in China, for example, came into force in December 2021 in the United States.
If this ratification marks a theoretical advance, for some observers this shift could in fact only be a sham. “Signing ILO conventions does not commit you to anything. Who will verify that they are in place? », mocked in December 2020, in The cross, MEP and defender of the Uyghurs Raphaël Glucksmann.