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An Australian senator will seek support from fellow upper house members to recognise China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority as genocide, after similar parliamentary motions passed in Canada and the Netherlands.

The proposed motion – placed on the Senate’s notice paper for 15 March – looms as a test for the major parties at a time when Australia should join the international community in taking a stand, according to the South Australian independent senator Rex Patrick.

While the Morrison government has thus far declined to describe the situation in China’s Xinjiang region as genocide, the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, has raised concerns about “some very horrific reports, particularly around forced labour, around re-education camps, allegations in relation to the systematic torture and abuse of women”.

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