Ahead of a government meeting, a group of Uighurs sent a letter to New Zealand’s authorities calling on them to declare the situation in the Xingjian region a genocide. “We understand that New Zealand is not a military superpower, or a trade superpower, however, New Zealand is a moral superpower”, read the letter.
New Zealand’s Parliament has expressed concern over China’s alleged mistreatment of Uighurs during a plenary session that took place on 4 May. In a move that is likely to raise eyebrows in Washington and London, the Parliament did not support a motion proposed by the ACT party that would have labelled the reported abuses of Uighurs as a genocide.
Deputy leader of ACT, Brooke van Velden, told reporters that she had to drop the word “genocide” from the motion and replace it with “severe human rights abuses” in order to receive support from the governing Labour Party.
New Zealand’s Trade Minister Damien O’Connor told reporters that the use of the word “genocide” would have impacted the trade ties between the countries. He was echoed by opposition leader Judith Collins, who said that bilateral trade was “the elephant in the room” during the discussion.
Beijing is Wellington’s largest trading partner. According to New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry, China’s economy offers significant opportunities for the country’s businesses with two-way trade – exports and imports of goods and services – exceeding $23.7 billion.