Belt and Road Bridgehead Italy Turns to Condemn China for Human Rights Violations

The Italian Chamber of Deputies Foreign Affairs Committee passed a motion on May 26 expressing its strongest condemnation of “the various human rights violations committed by China against ethnic or religious groups” and calling on China to grant the UN High Commissioner access to “re-education camps” in Xinjiang. The motion, which was adopted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on China to allow the UN High Commissioner to enter the Xinjiang “re-education camp” to conduct an independent investigation. Such a resolution by the parliament of the first European country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative is certainly a blow to China’s offensive strategy in the European Union

The adoption of a resolution by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies strongly condemning “the various human rights violations committed by China against ethnic or religious groups” shows that the former Italian government’s pro-China economic and trade policy has begun to falter. In particular, Mario Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank, has been at the forefront of the European Union’s efforts to strengthen its tough stance against China since he became prime minister in February this year, and has united with the U.S. Biden administration in its position, even saying that it will use the government’s Golden Power clause for the first time to block China’s acquisition of Italy’s semiconductor industry.

However, the Italian Parliament did not pass the use of the word genocide, which has been used by both the Canadian and U.S. governments, and in Europe the British Parliament first proposed to pass the finding that the Chinese government’s serious and systematic violations against the Uighurs in Xinjiang were genocide, but the first European country to join China’s Belt and Road, because of the genocide discussion caused serious political divisions, ultimately chose to avoid the word genocide.

Laura Harth, advocacy director of Safeguard Defenders, an NGO sitting in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, told Radio Free Asia, “In the end, Congress was reluctant to consider it genocide, mainly because of the strong opposition of leftist parties, but it was a big victory because Congress was reluctant to express an opinion on the issue. The government signed a bilateral partnership with China two or three years ago, and this resolution of condemnation on the Uighur issue has shown the consistency of the parliament on the issue of human rights in China. “

The Italian Chamber of Deputies resolution calls on the Draghi government and EU partner countries to take a “firm stand” against China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including illegal birth control, repression of religious freedom, forced labor regimes in detention camp factories, arbitrary detention and the use of digital technology for surveillance purposes; and to take the initiative to The House has taken action to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang and has supported the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ access to Xinjiang’s re-education camps to conduct an independent investigation.

The House also supported the recommendations in the European Parliament’s resolution sanctioning officials in Xinjiang and urged the Chinese government to ratify and implement Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the Workplace.
The bill was debated in Congress and covered by the media in a way that was very difficult to discuss in Italy before the Uighur issue, but the outbreak in China has changed the attitude of members of Congress significantly,” Haas said. “

The Chinese Embassy in Rome, in response to the adoption of the border-related resolution, strongly criticized the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies for interfering in China’s internal affairs by smearing and discrediting China through the so-called human rights issue, despite China’s strict position. The Italian media considered the harshness of the Chinese Embassy’s statement as unusual and not very orthodox diplomatic practice, turning a page in bilateral relations.

After all, before, Italy signed the Belt and Road Memorandum with China single-handedly, excluding the House of Representatives in the EU, which was seen as an important bridgehead for China to seize the EU, but the spread of the epidemic and the spread of fake news by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian on Twitter, claiming that Italians were grateful for Chinese aid and playing the Chinese national anthem, made the Italian public aware of the other side of China; and the Chinese government’s counter-sanctions against the EU The Chinese government’s counter-sanctions against the EU also led Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni to summon the Chinese Ambassador to Italy, Li Junhua, to protest against the sanctions imposed by China on a number of European parliamentarians in solidarity with Xinjiang and to reiterate Italy’s position in defense of human rights and freedoms.