China ready for ‘fight’ over international action on Xinjiang human rights abuses
OREANDA-NEWS A Chinese envoy to the United Nations has warned western nations and allies that Beijing is ready for a “fight” amid growing pressure for global action against China over its human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
The threat follows the release of a report by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights which found the government was likely committing crimes against humanity with its abuses of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.
A Xinjiang government spokesperson, Xu Guixiang, is leading a Chinese delegation to Geneva, where the council of 47 member states – including China and the US – will meet, under pressure to take substantive action on the report. Beijing has strongly denied the accusations and rejected any plans for what it terms “external interference”.
“If some forces in the international community – or even anti-China forces – make so-called ‘Xinjiang-related motions’ or so-called ‘resolutions’, we won’t be afraid,” Xu said. “We will take countermeasures resolutely and fight.”
Xu appeared to offer some acknowledgment of the criticism, saying: “The human rights situation in Xinjiang is in a process of further improving and making more efforts.”
But he added: “There is no such thing as the massive violation of human rights as claimed by the Xinjiang report.”
The US and several other parliamentary bodies have declared the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang to be a genocide. The UN report is the latest body of evidence for the sweeping crackdown on ethnic minorities there, including the mass detention of an estimate 1 million or more individuals.
Beijing claims the detention facilities – which it initially denied the existence of – were vocational education and training centres that have since closed after trainees “graduated”.
Among the report’s recommendations and of key concern to Uyghur families is identifying the whereabouts and wellbeing of all detainees.
Retired doctor Gulshan Abbas was detained in Xinjiang four years ago this month over allegations of terrorism and “crimes of disrupting social order”, and hasn’t been heard from by her family since.
“We have some ideas where she might be but no confirmation because no one in my family back home have access to her in these years, no one was allowed to see her, at least not that we know of,” her daughter, Ziba Murat, said. “I still don’t know how she is doing, her fragile health.”
Murat criticised the delay in releasing the report, and its failure to examine the question of genocide, but urged action. “It’s natural that I want the report to be stronger, but this is a step towards accountability,” she told the Guardian.
“My mother’s case is just a tip of the iceberg … It is crucial that international communities, countries to put people’s lives and human dignity ahead of any economic, business interest with Chinese government, it needs to be called out for these atrocities.
“We already lost so much: the mosques, the shrines, cultural sights, it’s gone [and we] can’t take it back. But we still have time to save those innocent lives, so act on it.”
At a conference last week, Fernand de Varennes, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, suggested the UN’s credibility was at stake over its next move on the report.
“If you allow any one country to go unpunished in relation to crimes against humanity in relation to minorities, that opens the door to potential genocides,” de Varennes said.
“We have to remember the UN has not alway been very good at preventing genocide in the past. Here perhaps we have an opportunity to do something much more proactive, otherwise we’re going to prepare the ground, I think, for unfortunate developments.”