Xinjiang governor cancels EU visit amid backlash over Uyghur abuses – POLITICO

BRUSSELS – The governor of China’s Xinjiang region has canceled his controversial trip to Paris and Brussels, three people with knowledge of his plans told POLITICO.

The cancellation of Erkin Tuniyaz’s visit sparked widespread concern among lawmakers and activists that Europe would roll out the red carpet for the man in charge of Chinese territory where extreme measures against the Uighur Muslim community have been called potential crimes against humanity by the United Nations.

News of the trip’s cancellation was leaked to invitees at his welcome party planned by Chinese diplomats in France and Belgium. “Due to scheduling… [the event] Suspended,” according to an email sent to EU guests in Brussels, the text of which was seen by POLITICO.

One sent to the invitees in Paris mentioned “an important domestic agenda”. Those sharing the information with POLITICO did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the Xinjiang governor’s trip.

An emailed inquiry from Politico to the Chinese embassy in London, where Tuniaz was scheduled to begin his visit on Monday, went unanswered. It is not clear if he will go to London yet.

POLITICO reported on his planned visit to Brussels last week following a Guardian report on his visit to London. Later it was learned that he was also supposed to go to Paris.

Critics questioned the British Foreign Office and EU foreign policy wing’s initial plan to invite Tuniyaz for meetings during his visit. Some have threatened to take legal action against him while he is on European soil. The EU later defended its decision, saying it had rejected Beijing’s request to meet with more senior EU officials.

China’s foreign ministry has not confirmed Tuniyaz’s initial visit plans.

On the other hand, it announced that China’s foreign policy chief Wang Yi will visit Russia and four European Union countries: France, Germany, Italy and Hungary. He is also expected to address the Munich Security Conference. This will be Wang’s first visit to Europe since his promotion from foreign minister to the Communist Party’s Politburo late last year.

The EU, meanwhile, is expected to reopen a human rights dialogue with China later this month, for the first time since Beijing imposed sanctions on European diplomats, lawmakers and academics in 2020, according to an EU foreign policy official.