Fiji changes stance on ‘rights’ issue

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Chinese ambassador Zhou Jian (right) gestures to Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica to meet Yonghang Guo (left), the Secretary of Guangzhou Committee during a reception at the Chinese embassy in Suva, on Fri 27 oct 2023. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

The Fijian Government has withdrawn itself from being a party to the Joint Statement on Human Rights violations in Xinjiang, China, on the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference with the domestic affairs of diplomatic partners.

Fiji had joined 50 other nations on October 18, 2023, to support a cross-regional statement which demanded China put an end to human right abuses in the province of Xinjiang, particularly on Uyghur and Muslim minorities.

The 51 countries had called on China to end its violation on human rights in that province, engage constructively with the Human Rights Commission and fully implement the recommendations made in the commission’s assessment.

Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand were the only Pacific Island nations to be part of the group.

A statement on the Fiji Government Facebook page said the Government was withdrawing itself as it reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to building an enduring co-operation.

“In this regard, the Fiji Government announces its withdrawal from being a party to the Joint Statement on Human Rights violations in Xinjiang, China issued at the UN Third Committee on 18 October 2023,” it said.

“Fiji attaches great value on its bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China and based on its policy of non-interference has withdrawn Fiji’s vote.

“The Government of the Republic of Fiji avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Government of the People’s Republic of China the assurances of its highest consideration and its commitment to the relationship between the two countries.”