The Chinese government’s senior diplomat has thanked Kazakhstan for its support for a de-radicalisation programme in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, and said others should follow Beijing’s example. Opponents of the programme say China is operating internment camps for Uygurs and other Muslims who live in Xinjiang, although the government describes them as vocational training centres and says there is a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after meeting Kazakh counterpart Beibut Atamkulov in Beijing that de-radicalisation measures in Xinjiang were very effective, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday. The steps had “vigorously protected local security and stability and made an important contribution to promoting regional peace and stability”, Wang said. The measures also gave a “useful reference for the international community in cracking down on violent terror forces and banishing extremist thought”, he said. “We appreciated the Kazakh government’s understanding and support for China’s position, and we will never let any person or any force damage the friendship and mutual trust between China and Kazakhstan,” Wang said. The government of the Central Asian nation has not raised its voice against the programme in Xinjiang but has negotiated the release of about two dozen people with dual Kazakh and Chinese citizenship detained in China. EU rejects China’s offer of Xinjiang tour, but says it’s open to one later Kazakh police this month arrested a Chinese-born activist who has campaigned on behalf of Kazakhs in China. Xinjiang is home to a Kazakh minority, some of whom have been put into the de-radicalisation system, according to human rights campaigners. China has increased its efforts to counter growing criticism from the West and among human rights groups about the programme in Xinjiang. That included inviting foreign diplomats and journalists on chaperoned tours of the region. China denied all accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang and said there was a genuine need to ensure security there, where hundreds of people have been killed in recent years in unrest blamed by Beijing on Muslim militants and separatist groups. Wang said China and Kazakhstan should strengthen their cooperation in the human rights field and ensure people do not try to “politicise” the issue, the foreign ministry said.