World

Xinjiang ‘shining example’ of China’s progress on human rights, Minister says

BEIJING: Beijing’s treatment of ethnic minorities Xinjiang and Tibet is a “shining example” of China human rights progress, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang yi said on Monday as other countries mulled over actions against his crackdown Uyghurs.
Rights groups estimate that at least one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities have been held in camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where China is also accused of having sterilized force women and impose a regime of forced labor.
After initially denying the existence of the camps, Beijing later defended them as vocational training centers aimed at reducing the attractiveness of Islamic extremism.
“Places inhabited by ethnic minorities, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, have stood out as shining examples of China’s progress in human rights,” Wang said at a forum on US-China relations in Beijing.
Politicians in several countries have condemned the incarceration of minorities in China in Xinjiang.
The US State Department said China’s actions in Xinjiang amounted to genocide, while Canada weighed a similar statement.
A number of high-level diplomats also expressed concern over the situation when the UN Human Rights Councilmain annual session on Monday.
“The situation in Xinjiang is beyond pale,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said during the largely virtual meeting.
“The reported abuses, which include torture, forced labor and forced sterilization of women, are extreme and they are extensive. They are occurring on an industrial scale.”
Speaking by video link to the council later Monday, Wang criticized the statements as “inflammatory accusations … fabricated out of ignorance and prejudice.”
“They are simply malicious and politically defeated and could not be further from the truth.”
Wang hammered home his message that the people of Xinjiang “live safe and happy lives.”
He insisted that the region has more than 24,000 mosques – one for every 530 Muslims – denying claims that religious freedoms are restricted there.
“This basic fact shows that there has never been a so-called genocide, forced labor or religious oppression in Xinjiang,” Wang said.
He also reiterated that China would welcome a visit to Xinjiang by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet.
Beijing issued its invitation to Bachelet over a year ago, but it is still unclear whether it would be willing to accept its “unhindered access” request, and no date has yet been set for the trip. .
In his speech to the Rights Council, the Chinese foreign minister also dismissed concerns about the situation in Hong Kong since the introduction of a controversial new national security law last year.
The law, he insisted, had closed “the long-standing legal loopholes in Hong Kong and facilitated a major turn from turbulence to law and order.”
Rights groups and activists say Tibetans have also suffered severe restrictions on their religion and culture under Chinese rule – including the demolition of monasteries – which have resulted in several self-immolation protests by the Tibetans in recent years.
Journalists are banned from independent reporting in Tibet, where Beijing insists it has brought development to a previously backward region.
Meanwhile, Wang expounded China’s view that the approach to human rights must be allowed to differ from country to country, “in light of national realities.”
Beijing often cites advances in life expectancy, economic growth, and poverty eradication as evidence that rights are protected.
And she often balks at the emphasis Western countries place in the Rights Council on the universality of political and civil liberties.
“Human rights are not the monopoly of a few countries, (and should not) be used as a tool to pressure other countries and meddle in their internal affairs,” said Wang on the board.

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