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China hits back at Netherlands over 'genocide' claim

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin

China has hit back at the Netherlands for accusing Beijing of committing "genocide" against the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang region.

"The facts show that there has never been any 'genocide' in Xinjiang," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday.

The remarks came after the Dutch parliament passed a non-binding motion on Thursday asserting that Beijing's treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang amounted to "genocide."

"A genocide on the Uighur minority is occurring in China," the Dutch motion said, adding that Beijing's actions in Xinjiang, including alleged birth control measures and "punishment camps," fall under the United Nations (UN) convention on genocide.

Wang said Dutch lawmakers were using Xinjiang as an excuse to "deliberately smear China" and "crudely interfere" in its internal affairs.

He expressed hope that the Netherlands would "immediately stop its wrongdoings and take concrete actions to safeguard the overall situation of bilateral relations."

The Chinese official also stressed that European Union (EU) representatives were welcome to visit Xinjiang.

China has already invited the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the region to prove Western allegations of genocide there wrong.

Western governments have alleged that at least one million Muslims have been forced into camps in the autonomous Xinjiang region.

Beijing vehemently denies claims that Muslim Uighurs are unfairly treated and says it is addressing underdevelopment and a lack of jobs in heavily Uighur areas such as Xinjiang.

Chinese officials say the camps are "vocational education and employment training centers" for "criminals involved in minor offenses."

The Netherlands is the first European country to accuse China of genocide, after Canada and the United States.

On Monday, Canada's parliament unanimously approved a non-binding motion saying that China's treatment of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang constituted "genocide."

Last month, the administration of US President Joe Biden endorsed a last-minute declaration by the administration of ex-president Donald Trump that accused China of committing "genocide" in Xinjiang.

The mostly Muslim-Turkic ethnic group of Uighurs, which makes up about 45 percent of the population in Xinjiang, has long accused the government in Beijing of cultural, religious, and economic discrimination.

China rejects the accusation and, in turn, accuses exiled separatist groups of planning attacks in the resource-rich Xinjiang, which is strategically located on the borders of Central Asia.

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