The Dutch motion says that China’s actions in Xinjiang, including birth control measures, are covered by the United Nations Convention on Genocide.

The Dutch parliament passed a non-binding motion on Thursday that the treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority in China constitutes genocide, the first such step by a European country.

“In China there is genocide of the Uyghur minority,” says the Dutch application, without saying directly that the Chinese government was responsible.

Activists and UN legal experts say at least a million Muslims have been detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of torture, forced labor and sterilization.

China denies any human rights violations in Xinjiang, saying its camps provide professional training and are necessary to fight tough views.

The Chinese Embassy in The Hague said Thursday that any genocide proposal in Xinjiang was an “outright lie” and that the Dutch parliament had “deliberately smeared China and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs”.

Canada passed a resolution earlier this week outlining China’s treatment of the Uyghur genocide.

In a press conference on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was “very clear” that what happened in Xinjiang was “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” represent.

‘Great corporation’

The Dutch motion states that measures taken by the Chinese government such as “birth prevention measures” and “punishment camps” are covered by United Nations Resolution 260, commonly known as the Genocide Convention.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party voted against the resolution.

Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the government did not want to use the term genocide because the situation had not been declared as such by the United Nations or an international court.

“The situation of the Uyghurs is of great concern,” Blok told reporters after the application was accepted, adding that the Netherlands hoped to work with other nations on the matter.

Activists and UN legal experts say at least one million Muslims are being arrested by China in camps in the western region of Xinjiang [File: Ng Han Guan/AP]The draftsman, lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the center-left Democratic Party 66, has separately proposed lobbying the International Olympic Committee to remove the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing.

“Recognizing the atrocities that are taking place against the Uyghurs in China for their genocide prevents the world from looking the other way and forces us to act,” he told Reuters in an email response to questions.

In a statement on its website, the Chinese Embassy in The Hague said the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has grown in recent years, with higher standards of living and longer life expectancy.

“How can you call that genocide?” it said. “Xinjiang-related issues are never about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about combating violent terrorism and secession.”

China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday accused the Western powers of using the Uyghur issue to meddle in his country’s internal affairs.

The growing pressure on China via the Uyghurs comes from an annual report by the National Bureau of Statistics of China showing a sharp and sudden drop in birth rates in Xinjiang due to reports of mass internment and population control.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, which first reported the latest numbers on Thursday, population growth in Xinjiang has shrunk by about two-thirds in two years.

Between 2017 and 2019, the birth rate in Xinjiang almost halved and, according to statistics, has fallen from 15.88 percent in 2017 to 8.14 percent in 2019.

A new Human Rights Watch report on Wednesday also alleged that the Chinese government had stepped up “baseless law enforcement” in the far west, sentencing Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang to long prison terms.

Since the Chinese government escalated its repressive Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism in late 2016, the region’s formal criminal justice system has convicted and sentenced more than 250,000 people.