LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s lawmakers will next week consider proposed changes to legislation that would ban the government from buying medical supplies made in China’s Xinjiang region, after pressure from rights groups over Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur people.
Rights groups and lawmakers accuse China of widescale abuses against Uyghurs and other minority groups, including the torture, forced labour and detention of one million people in internment camps.
China says the camps are re-education and training facilities and denies any abuse, saying it is fighting religious extremism.
An amendment proposed by Britain’s upper house of parliament to the Health and Social Care Bill that would seek to eradicate modern slavery from health service supply chains will be considered by lawmakers in the lower house.
Politico reported that health minister Sajid Javid supported the move. The Department of Health and Social Care had no immediate comment.
The amendment does not mention Xinjiang specifically but requires the government to ensure the procurement of all goods and services for the health service in England “avoids modern slavery.”
Politico said the law change could require private companies obtaining National Health Service (NHS) contracts to meet criteria on modern slavery grounds, potentially creating a blacklist of companies that fail its tests.
(Reporting by James Davey and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Mark Potter)