US using Xinjiang situation to meddle in internal affairs, China says
Believers pray at Urumqi's Yanhan mosque during Friday noon prayer, known as Jumu`ah to Muslims, Xinjiang province, China, July 17, 2009. EPA-EFE FILE/DIEGO AZUBEL
Beijing, Jun 24 (efe-epa).- The government of China on Monday accused the United States of taking advantage of the situation in its northwestern Xinjiang province — where more than a million Uighur Muslims have been put in indoctrination camps — for interfering in its internal matters.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the accusation after Washington last week published a report on religious freedom and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned China of consequences if it continued to try and "eliminate" the culture of Muslims — most of them Uighurs — in Xinjiang.
"It is a flagrant interference in China’s domestic affairs. We deplore that and reject that. We have lodged solemn representations with the US," Geng said in a press briefing.
He added that both the US report and Pompeo's remarks were "in disregard of facts, filled with ideological prejudice and attack China’s religious and Xinjiang policies."
"The Chinese government protects religious freedom according to law. China citizens enjoy full religious freedom," the spokesperson said.
Geng said the camps — which are called "re-education centers" by Beijing — were part of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures aimed at safeguarding the life and property of its people.
"We urge the US and Mr Pompeo to respect facts, disregard prejudices and stop issuing such reports year after year to smear China’s policy and Xinjiang policy," he said.
After offering statistical data on religions in China, the spokesperson brought up surveys carried out in the US to allege that the religious and human rights condition of minorities in the US was "worrisome."
In the report, the US accused Beijing of exercising control over religions perceived as a threat to the Communist Party of China, and alleged attacks on Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and members of the Buddhist sect Falun Gong.
Although the US does not have access to Xinjiang — its document is based on reports by the press and nonprofit organizations — Washington said it had detected an increase in repression against religious minorities and that such actions were common across the country.
Since 1999, China has figured in the US blacklist of countries that violate freedom of religion along with countries such as Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea; and the US has banned the import of electronic surveillance equipment from China.