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Steerpike

Vince Cable slammed over China (again)

Vince Cable slammed over China (again)
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Oh dear. Britain's onetime favourite 'liberal' is at it again. Mr S has chartered the sad decline of Vince Cable in recent months from household name to Beijing's useful idiot. The onetime Lib Dem leader is one of the few mainstream politicians to claim China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang does not amount to genocide, as part of his bid for the UK to develop closer ties with the country. This is despite reports that the Uyghur persecution there meets all five UN criteria for genocide. Indeed Layla Moran, the party's foreign affairs spokesman, issued a very public slapdown last June when Cable first made these claims.

Now though, an unchastened Cable has gone even further. In comments made on Friday at the National Liberal Club at a panel discussion on China, the former Lib Dem leader was asked a question by Rahima Mahmut of the World Uyghur Congress about the situation there. Cable, who was speaking at the event to raise funds for the party's local candidate Edward Lucas, responded strongly:

They did what I did, they read through a lot of the documentation, alleging, quote 'genocide' in Xinjiang and they said "What is happening there is dreadful but to call it genocide is absolutely, completely wrong." This is nothing whatever to do with the kind of horrors that happened in the Holocaust or Rwanda. This is a totally different situation. This is a brutal, probably, overreaction to a terrorist movement and that we should of course criticise it and condemn it. But this is not genocide or anything remotely like it.

He then bemoaned how and he others had been 'pilloried' for making such remarks. Poor Vince. He added that describing the situation in Xinjiang as 'genocide' is 'not helpful, ultimately to the Uyghur cause' – something which didn't go down well with Mahmut, who does not know the fate of her nine siblings there. She told Mr S: 

I can't remember the last time I felt so angry, patronised and belittled. Cable clearly knows very little about China, the history of the persecution of Uyghurs and the definition of genocide. He merely repeated the Communist party's lies about how their suppression of my people is a result of extremism. Cable seems to think he knows better than hundreds of legal scholars who agree that the criteria for genocide are met because the CCP is systematically preventing our women from having children. Vince Cable is a genocide denier, plain and simple. It is hard to believe gestures of solidarity while this man remains within the Liberal Democrats.

It's worth remembering too that Cable doesn't just echo the CCP's lines on Xinjiang. Last month at the Oxford Union he effectively victim-blamed protestors in Hong Kong for Beijing's clampdown on democracy there, claiming that:

Those people in Hong Kong who, in the name of democracy and free speech, started throwing Molotov cocktails at the police and vandalising their legislature did their little bit to kill Hong Kong democracy because it was very clear what the rules of the game were and the Chinese were not in any way dishonest or unclear about what was permissible.

Such comments received a glowing write up from one section of the press at least – China's state-run network CTGN. Given that Cable these days doesn't seem too keen on the 'liberal' or 'democrat' aspects of his party, Steerpike wonders just what it will take for his fellow knight Sir Ed Davey to kick him out of the party. A Lib Dem spokesperson told Mr S that:

Vince has many views which the party has always valued, but on this he is wrong. There is clear cut evidence of a genocide in Xinjiang Province, as the Uyghur Tribunal found, and we cannot stay silent while the Chinese government commits atrocities against the Uyghurs. That starts with the UK government recognising that a genocide is taking place, something which the Conservatives have shamefully failed to do.

Let's hope it's Vince who will be staying silent in future, eh?

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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