China refutes joint letter criticizing Xinjiang policies

Lester Mason
July 13, 2019

The Human Rights Watch welcomed the letter and the efforts of the 22 ambassadors of different countries.

China's representative said global organisations and media who visited Xinjiang had found the situation was different from its portrayal in the West, and that officials from countries behind the letter declined an invitation to visit. Australia, Canada and Japan were among them, along with European countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Switzerland, but not the United States, which quit the foruma year ago.

"We have already lodged stern representations with the relevant countries", spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

"The Chinese government and Chinese people have the most say on Xinjiang issues and can not be interfered by any country or external forces", he said.

In a letter to Bachelet, the ambassadors of these 22 countries asked China to maintain the dignity of its own laws and worldwide obligations and put an end to the erratic imprisonment, allowing the freedom of religion.

The unprecedented letter also calls on China to allow experts, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "meaningful access" to the region.

It fell short of a formal statement being read out at the Council or a resolution submitted for a vote, as sought by activists.

"We welcome those who truly uphold the objective and fair principle to go to Xinjiang and look around, but we resolutely oppose any external forces using the Xinjiang issue to interfere in China's internal affairs and undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity", Geng said.

In the letter, the diplomats expressed concerns about the extrajudicial incarceration in "large-scale places of detention, as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang".

China had taken successful steps against terror and extremism in Xinjiang, which has been broadly supported by the people of the region, he added.

United Nations experts say around one million Uighur Muslims are being held in detention centres in the Xinjiang region, in northwest China.

The Chinese side has invited a number of diplomats, media outlets, experts and scholars from various countries to visit Xinjiang and also sent invitations to the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he said. A United Nations spokesperson said at the time that the trip, including "full access to Xinjiang", was under discussion. China's delegation is "hopping mad" at the move and is preparing its own letter, a diplomat said.

China denies abuse in the detention centers and calls them training schools aimed at combating extremism and providing employable skills.

"Those allegations by a small group of Western countries and NGOs can not do away with the tremendous achievements that were made against terrorism and radicalisation and can not change the fact that Xinjiang people are leading a happy life", he said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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