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a sword in the water ?

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While 175 voters were in the hemicycle this Thursday, January 20, the resolution carried by the socialist deputy of Gironde Alain David was voted almost unanimously, which is rare in France: 169 votes for, 1 vote against and 5 abstentions . The text, supported by the deputies of the LREM majority, “officially recognizes the violence perpetrated by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China against the Uyghurs as constituting crimes against humanity and genocide”, and the ” sentenced “. But what do we know about the diplomatic consequences that such a text can have?

The alteration of Franco-Chinese relations does not seem to be topical for Marc Julienne, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) and specialist in China. According to him, “the non-binding effect of the resolution will not lead China to adopt retaliation against French companies in the territory”. Legally, and under Article 34-1 of the Constitution, the National Assembly is authorized to pass resolutions, without any binding effect. In other words, it issues an opinion on a given question after one or more deputies have tabled a motion for a resolution.

“Pressure on the executive”

According to Marc Julienne, the resolution adopted this Thursday therefore has above all a scope “symbolic”. It is a way for parliamentarians to invite the French government to act. “This will create real pressure on the executive to take a stronger stance on the issue” he analyzes again. And to add: “If this is the case, China may see this as a threat and the question of the diplomatic consequences will then be legitimate. » A position which could already materialize by the absence of French government representation at the Olympic Winter Games (OG) in Beijing, according to the elected representative and rapporteur of the text at the Assembly Alain David. “It would already be a good start” he confides in Marianne.

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For now, the executive branch seems reluctant to take action. Although referring to “systematic violence” and “overwhelming testimonies”, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade Franck Riester, affirmed this morning during the parliamentary session, that it was up to an international tribunal to formally qualify the abuses committed by the China.

This Friday, January 21, China said to itself “ firmly opposed to the resolution adopted the day before by the French National Assembly. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, this vote “ disregards reality and common sense in matters of law “.

“International Movement”

If it is doing this for the first time, France is not the first country to position itself on Chinese repression in Xinjiang province. Several states have already formalized their recognition of the genocide of the Uyghurs by China, starting with the United States in January 2021, followed by the British, Dutch and Canadian parliaments which have qualified the abuses committed as “crimes against humanity” and of “genocide”. Moreover, similar procedures are underway in other States such as Belgium, Germany, Lithuania and New Zealand.

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For Alain David, the socialist deputy behind the text, the recent recognitions create a “significant international movement”. What can “push China to its limits” according to researcher Marc Julienne. Beijing’s rhetoric is often the same, he says. “At first, she denies the accusations, then in the face of evidence and international pressure, she justifies them by the positive effects they have had on Chinese society”, he explains. This is what she had done to respond to many countries accusing her of hosting re-education camps in Xinjiang province.. “After a long period of denial, she claimed that the camps were ‘vocational training centers’ intended to steer people away from religious extremism and separatism”, recalls Marc Julienne.

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Does the government intend to take up the issue soon? In any case, this is what some of the parliamentarians hope for. Just yesterday, Amnesty International called on the international community not to let China use its Winter Games to distract from its human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

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