Beijing lashes out after diplomats seek explanation for Uyghur crackdown

Posted at 7:25 AM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 09:25:09-05

China’s Foreign Ministry has responded furiously to an official letter, reportedly drafted by 15 Western diplomats, calling for answers to the continuing human rights crisis in Xinjiang.

Facing reporters at her daily press briefing Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying lashed out, saying the diplomats should play a “positive role” rather than “interfering.”

“I don’t know why they are worrying about Xinjiang’s situation. Why did they make this kind of request that puts pressure on China? I think this kind of action is very unreasonable,” she said.

She was responding to an earlier report by Reuters that a group of 15 Western ambassadors had drafted a letter to request a meeting with Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, seeking an explanation for the treatment of the Muslim-majority Uyghur people.

International pressure has been steadily growing on China in recent weeks to end its widely reported repression of the Uyghur, who predominantly live in the western province of Xinjiang.

A US congressional report estimated at least one million Uyghurs could be imprisoned in “re-education camps” in the province, an effort by Beijing to “Sinocize” the minority group.

According to the draft of the letter quoted by Reuters, the diplomats said they were “deeply troubled” by the reports emerging from Xinjiang.

“In order to better understand the situation, we request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns,” the letter is reported to have said.

CNN has reached out to the embassies for a copy of the draft but they have either declined to comment on the reported letter or have yet to respond.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said while China was happy to allow diplomats into Xinjiang, they objected to the trips being used to “put pressure” on the local government.

“I think this kind of behavior is beyond the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations … if they try to interfere in local government’s affairs with malicious intentions and prejudice, or groundlessly judge China, we firmly oppose this,” she told reporters.

Uyghurs who have spoken to people inside the Xinjiang camps claim detainees are forced to repeat Communist Party propaganda, while some prisoners are beaten or tortured.

“Every day before your meal you have to sing a ‘red’ (communist) song, and say thank you to (Chinese President) Xi Jinping or the Communist Party,” US-based Uyghur journalist Gulchehra Hoja, who has family members inside the camps, told CNN.