BEIJING (Reuters) – Recent U.S. legislation on Xinjiang is a severe violation of international law and gross interference in China’s internal affairs, the governor of the far western region said on Monday, accusing the United States of launching a smear campaign.
Tension has flared in recent weeks between China and the United States over issues such as Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority and protesters in Hong Kong, complicating prospects for a near-term deal to end a 17-month long trade war.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill requiring a tougher response to Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority. U.N. experts and activists say China has detained possibly 1 million Uighurs in camps in Xinjiang.
China, which has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs, says the camps are part of an anti-terror crackdown and provide vocational training.
The counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang are no different from anti-terrorism measures in the United States, the region’s governor, Shohrat Zakir, told reporters in Beijing.
The United States has chosen to turn a blind eye to Xinjiang’s social stability, and is launching a smear campaign against the region and using issues there to sow discord among ethnic groups in China, he added.
Any attempt to disable Xinjiang is doomed to fail, said Zakir, who is also deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Communist Party.
Human rights groups and former detainees have said conditions in the camps are poor, with inmates subject to psychological and physical abuse.
At Zakir’s news conference in the Chinese capital, images of past violence were displayed in excerpts from an English-language documentary, “Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang”, aired on China’s state broadcaster CGTN.
The Uighur bill, which was passed 407-1 in the Democratic-controlled House, requires the U.S. president to condemn abuses against Muslims and calls for the closure of the camps in Xinjiang.
It also calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China’s powerful politburo, Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)