United Nations activists and rights experts say at least one million Muslims are being held in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. Activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor and sterilization.
China denies any human rights violations in Xinjiang and says its camps provide vocational training and are necessary to counter extremism.
“A genocide against the Uyghur minority is underway in China,” the Dutch motion said, without directly saying that the Chinese government was responsible.
The Chinese Embassy in The Hague said on Thursday that any suggestion of genocide in Xinjiang was an “outright lie” and that the Dutch parliament had “deliberately smeared China and blatantly interfering in the internal affairs of the China”.
The Dutch motion said Chinese government actions such as “measures to prevent births” and “establishment of punishment camps” fell under United Nations resolution 260, commonly known as the genocide convention. .
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party voted against the resolution.
Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the government was unwilling to use the term genocide because the situation was not declared as such by the United Nations or an international tribunal.
“The situation of the Uyghurs is a source of great concern,” Blok told reporters after the motion was passed, adding that the Netherlands hoped to work with other nations on the issue.
The mover of the motion, lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the center-left D-66 party, separately proposed to lobby the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics away from Beijing.
“Acknowledging the atrocities taking place against the Uyghurs in China for what they are, namely genocide, prevents the world from looking the other way and forces us to act,” he told Reuters in a response to questions by e-mail.
In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese Embassy in The Hague said the Uyghur population of Xinjiang has grown in recent years, enjoying a higher standard of living and a longer life expectancy.
“How can you call it genocide?” It said. “Xinjiang-related issues are never about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but the fight against violent terrorism and secession.”
The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday accused the Western powers of using the Uyghur issue to meddle in his country’s internal affairs.