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The Cost of Economic Growth

Today there are so many massive issues happening all over the world. From the huge violation of human rights in Xinjiang, China, to corruption in Russia (Putin’s Palace, Navalny controversy), and the incompetence that exists in the western world. The atrocities that take place right under our noses continues to happen all while our world leaders muddle their words and fail to resolve issues, and instead are somehow fascinated by the problem. However, they are not actually fascinated by the problem, they are scared of the consequences of the solutions.

Recently an MP asked Boris Johnson during PMQs if he was going to boycott the Olympics in Beijing, China, his response was elusive. He insinuated that the UK Government officials do not normally attend the Olympics anyway and it is irrelevant. He later confirmed that they would not be attending.

China has massively violated human rights. They have camps where Turkic Muslims, known as Uyghurs, are held. (https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/06/china-draconian-repression-of-muslims-in-xinjiang-amounts-to-crimes-against-humanity/) They will incriminate these people for so called “crimes”, such as downloading Whatsapp, in order to detain them, brainwash them, and at times, torture them.

The question is why is this genocide that is being committed by China not being met with enough action? Why does Prime Minister Johnson say he’s doing a diplomatic boycott but then minimize its already small affect by saying that UK Officials don’t normally attend anyway? Why can’t the government have a strong reaction to a very serious issue?

The answer is that the aftermath of a reaction to these issues can be damaging to the UK’s position. Reacting strongly to China’s treatment of Uyghurs could cause trade problems between the UK and China. China also has close economic ties with many more countries through their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which links China with 78 different countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania through many different types of infrastructure projects. This initiative involves China making massive loans to countries who simply don’t have the capability to repay, making China have an even tighter grip onto them. This also makes these countries reluctant to speak out against China’s actions, considering they are in debt to them.

The large semiconductor company Intel is in the midst of this issue. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/intel-deletes-reference-xinjiang-backlash-020316160.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall) They released a statement saying they that are no longer going to be using labour from Xinjiang due to the fact that many governments around the world are now imposing sanctions on the region. The US now included, with Biden signing the Act into Law on the 23rd of December which bans all imports from Xinjiang. However, after releasing this statement, Intel was met with backlash from China. Intel retracted their statement, instead releasing a vaguer piece of writing, describing how they will not be a part of any involuntary labour.

While companies make their billions, governments keep their economic ties tightly knotted and timidly diplomatically boycott the Olympic games, millions of Uyghurs are enduring torturous conditions. Is this the cost of economic growth?

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