BRUSSELS — The governor of the Xinjiang region in China has canceled his controversial trip to Paris and Brussels, three people with knowledge of his plan told POLITICO.
The cancelation of Erkin Tuniyaz’s tour followed widespread concerns from lawmakers and activists that Europe would be rolling out the red carpet for the man in charge of the Chinese region where extreme measures against the Uyghur Muslim community amounted to what the U.N. calls potential crimes against humanity.
News of the trip being called off was relayed to people invited to his reception parties planned by Chinese diplomats in France and Belgium. “Due to scheduling reasons … [the event] is postponed,” according to an email sent to the EU guests in Brussels, the text of which was seen by POLITICO.
The one sent to invitees in Paris cited “an important domestic agenda.” Those sharing the information with POLITICO did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the Xinjiang governor’s trip publicly.
An emailed inquiry from POLITICO to the Chinese embassy in London, where Tuniyaz was supposed to begin his tour on Monday, was not answered. It remains unclear whether he will still go to London.
Critics questioned the British Foreign Office and the EU foreign policy arm for an initial plan to invite Tuniyaz for meetings during his trip. Some threatened legal action against him while he’s on European soil. The EU later defended its decision, saying they turned down Beijing’s requests to meet more senior EU officials.
The Chinese foreign ministry didn’t confirm Tuniyaz’s initial trip plan.
On the other hand, it announced that the Chinese foreign policy chief, Wang Yi, will be visiting Russia and four EU countries: France, Germany, Italy and Hungary. He’s also expected to speak at the Munich Security Conference. This will be Wang’s first trip to Europe since his promotion from foreign minister to the Communist Party Politburo late last year.
In the meantime the EU is expected to relaunch the human rights dialogue with China later this month, the first time since Beijing imposed sanctions on European diplomats, lawmakers and scholars in 2020, according to an EU official on foreign policy.