Home » NGOs urge Rome to shed light on Chinese train Xinjiang-Salerno

NGOs urge Rome to shed light on Chinese train Xinjiang-Salerno

Two NGOs, UHRP and the Uyghur American Association, have raised concerns about the China-Europe Railway Express to Italy. They claim the train may carry products made by Uyghur forced labour. The inaugural train, celebrated by China, faces growing controversy amid ongoing allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghurs

The case. Two NGOs, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and the Uyghur American Association and Safeguard Defenders, jointly wrote a letter to the Italian government, addressed to the Italian embassy in Washington, expressing concern about trains arriving at Salerno as part of the China-Europe Railway Express project. According to them, the train would be filled with agricultural products produced by Uighur forced labour. 

  • The document points out that while the Italian government’s decision to withdraw the Memorandum of Understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been widely welcomed, “allowing this first China-Europe BRI train to enter Italian territory with products suspected to be the product of forced labour would send a very stark and opposite message”.
  • As the NGOs point out, the Chinese Communist Party has been accused of human rights abuses against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities, which several countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Lithuania and France, have described as “genocide”.

The controversial link. The China-Europe Railway Express is a flagship project of the People’s Republic of China’s BRI, linking Urumchi, the capital of the Uyghur homeland, with Salerno in Italy. 

  • On 29 April, the project’s first intermodal rail-sea freight train departed for Salerno, Italy, fully loaded with agricultural products.
  • The Global Times, the English-language mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda, described the event as a “bridge to prosperity” with a train network reaching 219 cities in 25 European countries.

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