Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. 'deeply troubled' by alleged Chinese crackdown

U.S. 'deeply troubled' by alleged Chinese crackdown

China's Foreign Ministry urged United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to respect the country's sovereignty after she urged it to allow monitors into the restive far western region of Xinjiang and expressed concern about the situation there.

China yesterday urged the U.S. to abandon its "prejudice" over Xinjiang, as Washington considers sanctions against Chinese officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.

"We have a lot of tools at our disposal", she told reporters.

"Throughout the region, the Turkic Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions and mass surveillance in violation of global human rights law", it added.

Discussions to rebuke China for its treatment of its minority Muslims have been underway for months among officials at the White House and the Treasury and State Departments. "We're not going to preview any sanctions that may or may not happen".

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday the measures in Xinjiang were necessary to "crack down on ethnic separatist activities and (violence) and terrorist crimes".

But he said that various ethnic groups in the region have a common desire for social stability, and that the Chinese government guarantees freedom of faith based on law.

Many interviewees said that more than half of their family are in prison, or political re-education camps.

The UN and human rights organisation have expressed concerns over the issue.

The country is accused of running re-education camps, where Uighurs are forced to renounce aspects of their religious beliefs and ostensibly learn about Chinese culture.

Punishments for refusing to follow instructions in the camp could mean being denied food, being forced to stand for 24 hours or even solitary confinement, it said.

Geng was referring to a report from the group on Monday that said rights violations in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are of a scope and scale not seen in the country since the Cultural Revolution.

Astana, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Xinjiang, is trying to position itself as a key link in China's One Belt, One Road economic development initiative.

As many as 13 million Muslims living in the region are increasingly subjected to mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment by the Chinese government, the report noted.

The new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report comes after a United Nations committee last month raised alarm at the "numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism", CNN reported.

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