Fifty member states of the United Nations are calling on China to “uphold its international human rights obligations” in a joint statement on Xinjiang, with Cyprus being absent from that list.
On Monday mostly western countries signed a statement calling for ''urgent attention'' from the UN against China's “ongoing human rights violations of Uyghurs.”
“We are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China, especially the ongoing human rights violations of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” the statement read.
The Republic of Cyprus did not sign the statement, which was said to be largely symbolic, after an earlier attempt to force a debate on the issue was voted down at the UN Human Rights Council.
Last year the Chinese ambassador said he was 'ready to share more with the Cypriot readers in the future and promote their better understanding of a real Xinjiang and a real China'
Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights violations, arguing there was a different story to be told about Xinjiang.
Last year the Chinese ambassador in Nicosia wrote an op-ed dismissing western allegations one by one, including accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang.
Liu Yantao, the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Cyprus, wrote in December 2021 that as “an official who worked in Xinjiang for 3 years, I am ready to share more with the Cypriot readers in the future and promote their better understanding of a real Xinjiang and a real China.”
Last month Liu met with House Speaker Annita Demetriou, who reaffirmed Nicosia’s One China position.
The meeting came days after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told European Parliament that Brussels was seeking to “broaden our cooperation” and “modernize our dialogue” with Taiwan.
Borrell had told reporters the bloc was looking to fine-tune relations with Beijing, saying the label of China being a competitor had become more central than rival partner.
EU competition with China could become complicated very quickly as some member states including Cyprus have signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative at a time when western nations are cranking up the pressure on Beijing.