Chinese ministry says its Xinjiang efforts are laudable

Reuters, BEIJING

Mon, Feb 25, 2019 - Page 4

China’s counterterror and deradicalization efforts in its far western region of Xinjiang should be applauded for creating a new method of tackling the problem, a senior Chinese diplomat told foreign envoys on Friday.

China is stepping up its diplomatic outreach over controversial camps in the heavily Muslim region, inviting more foreign diplomats to visit as it seeks to head off criticism from Muslim-majority nations and at the UN.

The Chinese government says the camps are re-education and training facilities, and have been highly successful in stopping attacks previously blamed on Muslim militants and separatists, but rights groups say they are internment camps.

Chinese officials briefed diplomats from more than 80 countries and international organizations in Beijing about Xinjiang, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Xinjiang Deputy Governor Erkin Tuniyaz and Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Hanhui (張漢暉) told the gathering about Xinjiang’s “development achievements” and their “preventive counterterrorism and de-extremism work,” the ministry said.

“Xinjiang’s counterterrorism and de-extremism efforts have created a new way to solve the symptoms and root cause of the difficult global issue of counterterrorism, and are worthy of praise,” the statement paraphrased Zhang as saying. “China will continue to make its due contribution toward the global fight against terrorism.”

The diplomats said China’s explanation had helped them understand Xinjiang, that what China was doing there was important for the rest of the world in combating terror and that the “successful experience in Xinjiang was worth studying and drawing on,” the ministry said.

It did not say which countries’ representatives had made the comments, or which countries’ envoys had attended.

Diplomatic sources last week told reporters that Western diplomats would attend, as well as those from countries close to China and which traditionally do not criticize its rights record.

China is also lobbying to thwart scrutiny of the Xinjiang camps at the UN Human Rights Council’s main annual session, which is to open today.

China has rejected accusations of mistreatment in the camps.