Plenary speech on China: the situation and cultural heritage in Kashgar (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region)

Mr President, under the banner of reform and development, the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar is being demolished. It is not only a blow to global cultural heritage, but most of all, the city is very important for the Uyghur and the Hui populations, and for China’s cultural diversity as a whole, which is now being destroyed. China has stepped up efforts to boost relations through cultural diplomacy throughout the world, but no one will be interested in a marketed, homogenised culture of a country which has such cultural diversity. In the interests of economic opportunity and sustainable relations with the rest of the world, respect for human rights and minorities in the broadest sense is essential. We urge the Chinese Government to assess the possibility of including Kashgar in the joint application with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for the Silk Road UNESCO world heritage designation. The High Representative should step up the human rights dialogue with China and make it more action-oriented and effective.