New Zealand’s Parliament unanimously declared on Wednesday that Uyghurs are suffering from “severe human rights abuses” in Xinjiang, China. However, the Labour government has decided not to label the acts as genocide and decided to debate the motion in more general terms.
The initial motion to call the abuses a “genocide” was put forward by the minority ACT Party. This motion was supported by the Green party and the Māori party. The governing Labour party and leading opposition National party took a much more reserved stance, noting the potential Sino-Kiwi trade implications. The debate occurred two days after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave her speech at the China Business Summit. She noted that the two-way trade flows between New Zealand and China account for over $30 billion annually.
Australia was one of the first countries to attempt to condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s actions and principles. As a result of the rifting relations, Australia has lost more than $47.7 billion AUD in its trade last year. New Zealand’s opposition leader Judith Collins has described Chinese relationships as the “elephant in the room” and stated that China’s 30 percent role in New Zealand’s international trade makes the matter complex.
The UK, Canada and Netherlands have each condemned the abuses as genocide. New Zealand’s decision not to label the Chinese Communist Party’s activities in Xinjiang as genocide has received several criticisms domestically and internationally. Members of New Zealand’s Uyghur community expressed disappointment in the Labour government’s decision. Some described it as “trade being prioritised over freedom and human rights in New Zealand.”