China took diplomats from 12 countries with large Muslim populations, including India and Pakistan, to its volatile Xinjiang province where tens of thousands of members of the minority Uyghur Muslims have been interned in education camps.
China took diplomats from 12 countries with large Muslim populations, including India and Pakistan, to its volatile Xinjiang province where tens of thousands of members of the minority Uyghur Muslims have been interned in education camps. The UN’s Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last year said that it was alarmed by “numerous reports of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities” being detained in Xinjiang region and called for their immediate release.
Estimates about them “range from tens of thousands to upwards of a million,” it had said. China defended the camps, saying they are re-education camps aimed at de-radicalising sections of the Uygur population from extremism and separatism. The US and several other countries besides UN officials have expressed concern over the camps.
Xinjiang’s regional government invited diplomatic envoys as well as representatives of diplomatic envoys from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The diplomatic envoys visited local markets, farmers, educational institutes, mosques, factories, as well as vocational education and training centres. Throughout the trip, they interacted with local vendors, students, and workers in Xinjiang and learned about the region’s progress in maintaining social stability, improving people’s livelihood and developing local economy, it said.
The diplomats also visited Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, the largest mosque in Xinjiang. Besides diplomats, the Chinese foreign ministry also took a small group of journalists to the far western region.
On Monday, China said it would welcome UN officials to visit the volatile Xinjiang province provided they are fair and objective. “Xinjiang is an open region. We welcome UN and other parties to visit Xinjiang while abiding by relevant rules, regulations and necessary procedures,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing on Monday.
“We also believe that they should avoid interfering in internal affairs and harming our sovereignty. They should stay objective and fair. We are willing to maintain contact with UN to meet each other half way,” he said.