The governor of China’s western Xinjiang Province has lashed out at the United States for passing legislation over Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority in the volatile region, saying the move constitutes a “violation of international law” and “gross interference” in the country’s internal affairs.
The bill, passed by the US House of Representatives last week, requires the US president to impose sanctions on Chinese government officials responsible for the alleged repression of Uighurs, a minority Muslim community that lives in Xinjiang.
The legislation came months after a UN human rights panel alleged that up to two million Uighurs had been forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the autonomous region, which is home to about 10 million Uighurs.
China rejects claims of mistreating Uighurs, saying it has been taking anti-terrorism measures against separatists in the region who are seeking to join Takfiri outfits such as al-Qaeda.
Beijing describes the camps in Xinjiang as “vocational education and employment training centers,” which are part of its efforts to tackle underdevelopment and a lack of employment in the area.
Speaking at a presser on Monday, Xinjiang’s Governor Shohrat Zakir slammed the bill as “a severe violation of international law and gross interference in China's internal affairs.”
“The US is getting restless and has launched a smear campaign against Xinjiang,” Zakir added. “But no force can stop Xinjiang’s progress toward stability and development.”
Zakir said the US was turning a blind eye to social stability in the region and was using issues there to sow discord among ethnic groups in China.
The counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang are no different from those in the United States, he added.
The official further rejected estimates by rights groups and foreign experts about the numbers of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the facilities.
“Students ... with the help of the government have realized stable employment (and) improved their quality of life,” Zakir said, adding that those currently in the facilities have “all completed their courses,” and that “there are people entering and exiting.”
The local government’s next step is to “proceed with daily, routine, normal, and open educational training to village cadres, rural party members, farmers, herdsmen, and unemployed graduates of middle school and high school,” he added.
China has repeatedly urged the US and other foreign states critical of its internal policies to stop interfering in its affairs, especially those related to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang.