China says world should ignore ‘gossip’ about fate of Uygurs in Xinjiang camps

  • ‘Xinjiang knows best’ how to cope with its ‘situation’, says Wang
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 5:39pm

The world should ignore “gossip” about China’s western Xinjiang region and trust the authorities there, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday when asked if Beijing would allow international observers to inspect camps holding Muslims there.

Western countries have called on China to close camps in Xinjiang where, human rights campaigners say, as many as a million members of the Uygur minority and other Muslims are detained.

China said that Xinjiang region faces a threat from Muslim militants and separatists. Beijing has rejected accusations of mistreatment and denies mass internment of members of the religious minority.

After blanket denials, however, officials said some people guilty of minor offences were sent to “vocational” training centres, where they are taught work skills and legal lesson aimed at curbing militancy.

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Wang said after a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Beijing that he hoped people would understand and support the Xinjiang regional government’s efforts to combat terrorism, put an end to the spread of extremism and provide social stability.

“(People) should not listen to gossip or rumour, because the Xinjiang regional government, of course, understands the situation in Xinjiang best, and not some other people or organisations,” Wang said.

“The efforts are completely in line with the direction the international community has taken to combat terrorism, and are an important part of the global fight against terrorism.

“If we can take care of prevention, then it will be impossible for terrorism to spread and take root,” he said.

Reports of mass detentions and strict surveillance of Uygurs and other Muslims have prompted the United States to consider sanctions against officials and companies linked to suspected human rights abuses.

Research published this month by the Jamestown Foundation, a US think tank which describes itself as “an independent, non-partisan organisation supported by tax-deductible contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals”, said that spending on security-related construction in Xinjiang tripled in 2017.

Despite the “vocational training” campaign, Xinjiang government data showed employment has not markedly improved, it said.