Image: Wikimedia Commons/ Mike Peel

University of Manchester ends research project with Chinese firm over alleged links to Uyghur persecution

TW: violence, torture

The University of Manchester has ended a joint research project with state-owned China Electronics Technology Group (CETC), alleged to be involved with human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

This comes after a parliamentary committee accused CETC of providing technology and infrastructure used in the persecution of the ethnic minority group, amid recent allegations of forced sterilisation and slave labour in the north-western Xinjiang region of China.

Tom Tugendhat, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, had written to the university over its Department of Physics and Astronomy’s research partnership with the company, according to The Independent.

In his letter, Mr Tugendhat said: “According to credible reports from both Human Rights Watch and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, CETC is one of the main architects of the Chinese government’s surveillance state in Xinjiang, China, providing both technology and infrastructure that is being used for the identity-based persecution of more than one million people, predominantly Uyghur Muslims.”

CETC is one of the main architects of the Chinese government’s surveillance state in Xinjiang, China, providing both technology and infrastructure that is being used for the identity-based persecution of more than one million people, predominantly Uyghur Muslims

– Tom Tugendhat, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Professor Martin Schroder, the university’s Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said the institution has “now taken steps to terminate the current agreement” with CETC while it assesses the relationship.

In a letter to the committee, Professor Schroder said: “I also confirm that, as far as I am aware, the university had no prior knowledge of any credible reports stated in your letter, or from any other source, linking CETC’s technology with the persecution of Uyghur Muslims. Your letter is the first to do so.”

China initially denied the existence of internment zones in the region in question. It later acknowledged them, but denied any abuses and says the steps it has taken are necessary to combat terrorism and a separatist movement.

The Foreign Affairs Committee is investigating the level of British involvement with organisations implicated with the alleged human rights abuses in China as part of an enquiry.

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