World The situation of the Uyghurs was not mentioned during...

The situation of the Uyghurs was not mentioned during the interview between Macron and Xi Jinping

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648x415 emmanuel macron lors d une visio conference en decembre 2020

Emmanuel Macron during a videoconference in December 2020. – Sebastien Nogier / AP / SIPA

A diplomatic oversight? Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping discussed Franco-Chinese economic relations and Burma, according to reports published Friday by the two countries, which do not mention the Chinese region of Xinjiang.

The information disseminated by the New China agency and by the French presidency about Thursday’s telephone interview does not mention the situation of Uyghur Muslims in this region of northwest China.

Conviction of the Quai d’Orsay

On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced an “institutionalized system of repression” in Xinjiang, during an intervention before the UN Human Rights Council. The Chinese Embassy in France then condemned any “interference in the internal affairs of others under the pretext of human rights”.

More than a million Uyghurs have been placed in political re-education centers in Xinjiang, according to human rights organizations, a crackdown deemed “unacceptable” by Mr. Macron last year. Beijing denies this figure and speaks of vocational training centers intended to fight against Islamist radicalization, after attacks attributed to Uyghur separatists.

The two presidents, on the other hand, welcomed the agreement reached at the end of 2020 between China and the EU on the protection of investments, Mr. Xi pleading for “its rapid entry into force”, according to the official Chinese agency.

Emphasis on economic relations

For his part, Mr. Macron called on Beijing to ratify “as soon as possible” the fundamental conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), according to the Elysee. Under the China-EU agreement, Beijing has promised to work towards this ratification. China has not ratified the ILO texts banning forced labor, although it is accused of using it in Xinjiang.

The two press releases underline the agreement of the two presidents to increase their economic relations in the sectors of civil nuclear power, aeronautics and agrifood. Paris has been seeking for years to sell a nuclear reprocessing site to China, an investment of around 10 billion euros.

While the French capital seeks to take advantage of Brexit to impose itself in finance at the expense of London, Xi Jinping said “to support Paris so that it becomes an international financial center”. According to the Elysee, Mr. Macron told the Chinese president of “his deep concern about the situation in Burma”, while Beijing has so far refused to talk about a coup d’etat about the seizure of power by the military on February 1 in this country.

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