China has lashed out at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his remarks about Beijing’s treatment of its ethnic Muslim Uighur community, saying Washington's “lies” about the western region of Xinjiang would not deceive anyone.
Pompeo said last week that the way Beijing treats Uighurs is among “the worst stains on the world,” and that Washington would use the UN General Assembly to rally support for the the ethnic minority.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing on Monday that Pompeo was not the first American official to make “irresponsible” remarks about Xinjiang.
“We are strongly dissatisfied with and resolutely opposed to these US officials’ neglecting of the facts, making irresponsible comments about China’s Xinjiang policy and seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Hua said.
“The lies of American politicians can’t trick people around the world and will only further expose the purpose of their hidden political motives,” she added.
Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of Central Asia, Xinjiang is key to China’s growing energy needs.
A UN human rights panel has cited estimates that two million Uighurs and Muslim minorities have been forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region, which is home to about 10 million Uighurs.
Beijing vehemently denies this as well as other reports that Uighurs are unfairly marginalized and says it is addressing underdevelopment and lack of jobs in heavily Uighur areas such as Xinjiang.
Chinese officials have also characterized the camps as “vocational education and employment training centers” for “criminals involved in minor offenses.”
The community, which makes up about 45 percent of the region’s population, has long accused Beijing of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.
China, in turn, accuses what it described as exiled Uighur separatist groups of planning attacks in the resource-rich region.