UK minister calls out China's 'unacceptable' human rights violations, Russia's 'war of aggression'

Minister Tariq Ahmad also emphasized the importance of countries coming together to focus on climate change

Lord Tariq Ahmad, a senior minister in the U.K. government discussed the war in Ukraine, infrastructure development around the world and China's role in climate change last week in a discussion with Fox News Digital.

"Let's not … pull any punches. What's very clear is that this is a war of aggression by Russia on the sovereign territory of Ukraine. And we need to be solid in our support, standing together to ensure that the best way to end this war is for Russia to stop it now and pull back, stop their occupation of a sovereign nation," Ahmad, who serves as the Minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office told Fox News Digital at the United Nations General Assembly last week. 

But, Ahmad said, the issue of climate change "isn’t going to go away, whatever challenge we face around the world." 

"This is a reality for all of us, and it’s important there’s concerted, collaborative action to meet the challenge of climate change," he added. 

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United Kingdom's Minister of State for the Commonwealth Tariq Ahmad attends the third plenary session of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on Nov. 23, 2019. 

United Kingdom's Minister of State for the Commonwealth Tariq Ahmad attends the third plenary session of the G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture on Nov. 23, 2019.  (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

"I don’t think one plays to the other. We can stand together in our strong support and economic support and financial support for Ukraine, as well as military support, but at the same time be true to our obligations under our responsibilities as a world coming together," Ahmad said. 

Addressing the issue of climate change, though, would require cooperation from China, he added. 

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"I think, like any country, China needs to step up and take responsibility," he said. "I think China has a role, not just to its own people, but a responsibility to the wider world as well."  

In 2021, China accounted for 11.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions, with the United States accounting for 4.4 gigatons and India accounting for 2.5 gigatons according to the International Energy Agency.

Ahmad also criticized China for its treatment of the Uyghur population, and called on countries like the United States, United Kingdom and European Union to be "in it for the long term" when it came to supporting infrastructure in the developing world.  

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"Among other things, I’m the United Kingdom Human Rights minister, and we’ve called out the situation that we see prevailing in Xinjiang. Their continued persecution, particularly of the Uyghur community, is frankly, unacceptable." 

In August, a report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that "serious human rights violations" had been committed against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang province of China.   

"I think China has to look at its own backyard, so to speak, in terms of its responsibility to its own citizens," Ahmad said. 

However, when it came to China’s "wider geopolitical role," Ahmad called on nations like the United States and U.K. to support infrastructure and development around the world, lauding Prime Minister Liz Truss for the creation of the British International Investment when Truss was foreign minister. 

China's President Xi Jinping

China's President Xi Jinping (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool, File)

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Ahmad called on countries to work "with key partners" in order to support domestic economies and development projects around the world.

Ahmad’s comments came just weeks after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and he said the U.K. was "so touched by the sentiments, the expressions of condolences, but the real sense of solidarity and the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth."

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"The sense of strong support and affection we've seen not just from leaders, but the world's public has been quite overwhelming," he added. "So a huge thank you from all of us."