The Tory MP for Tonbridge, Edenbrige and Malling responded to a post from China’s embassy in the US which hailed Xinjiang as a place were women were “emancipated”. China’s embassy said after “eradicating extremism” in the region, Uighur women were “more confident and independent”.
Mr Tugendhat, also chair of the China Research Group, lashed out at the embassy’s post.
He said: “Claiming that ethnic cleansing is a form of gender equality is horrific.”
The Chinese embassy posted a China Daily article which said the eradication of extremism has given Uighur women “more autonomy”.
It cites a decrease in the birthrate and natural population growth of Uighur’s in 2018 as responsible for the “eradication of religious extremism”.
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Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang autonomous region have reportedly forced much of the Uighur Muslim population into re-education camps.
Sayragul Sautbay, a medical doctor now living in Sweden, published a book last year detailing the “humiliation and violence” she suffered while detained in a re-education camp.
Ms Sautbay witnessed forced sterilisations, beatings and alleged Chinese guards sexually abused the population.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, she added: “Every Friday, we were forced to eat pork meat. They have intentionally chosen a day that is holy for the Muslims.
“And if you reject it, you would get a harsh punishment.”
China denies human rights abuses in the re-education camps, with the China Daily article rubbishing claims the population decrease in the Uighur’s was due to forced sterilisation.
In July last year, then Chinese ambassador the UK Liu Xiaoming denied the abuse of Uighur’s in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
Giving a brazen defence of China’s human rights record, Mr Liu said the Uighur’s live in “peaceful and harmonious coexistence with other ethnic groups” and added: “There is no such concentration camp in Xinjiang.”
Mr Marr showed the former ambassador drone footage of hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men, believed to be Uighur and other minority ethnic groups, being led from a train in what appeared to be a transfer of inmates in Xinjiang last August.
Mr Liu replied “I do not know where you get this videotape,” and added: “Sometimes you have a transfer of prisoners, in any country.”
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Foreign minister Dominic Raab tore into China’s human rights record last year over their “gross and egregious” treatment of Uighurs.
Also speaking to Mr Marr, the minister stopped short of defining the re-education camps as genocide but condemned the practice.
In December, the BBC reported thousands of Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang were forced into manual labour in cotton fields.
Dr Adrian Zenz, from the Centre for Global Policy, uncovered documents showing more than half a million minority workers are sent for seasonal cotton picking.
He added: “For the first time we not only have evidence of Uighur forced labour in manufacturing, in garment making, it’s directly about the picking of cotton, and I think that is such a game-changer.”
Mr Tugendhaft recently commented on a Telegraph report that the UK Government awarded £150 million in contracts for personal protective equipment from Chinese firms linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
The Health Department paid £122 million two Winner Medical, which allegedly uses cotton produced by a supplier in Xinjiang, as well as £19 million to China Meheco and £16.5 million to Sinopharm.
Mr Tugendhat commented: “Slavery was abolished under British law almost 200 years ago but now it’s alive and well in Xinjiang making us complicit in some of the worst human rights abuses and undercutting legal suppliers.
“We need to use the G7 to set global standards stopping slave-goods reaching free countries.”
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