A Chinese envoy to the United Nations has warned Western nations and their allies that Beijing is ready for a “fight” amid growing pressure for global action against China for 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 that the government was likely committing crimes against humanity with its abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang.
A Xinjiang government spokesman, Xu Guixiang, is leading a Chinese delegation to Geneva, where the council of 47 member states – including China and the United States – will meet, under pressure to take substantive action on the report. . Beijing has strongly denied the charges and rejected any plans for what it calls “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 resolutely take countermeasures and fight.”
Xu appeared to offer some acknowledgment for the criticism, saying, “The human rights situation in Xinjiang is getting better and trying harder.”
But he added: “The massive violation of human rights as claimed by the Xinjiang report does not exist.
The United States and several other parliamentary bodies have declared the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang to be genocide. The UN report is the latest body of evidence of the sweeping crackdown on ethnic minorities there, including the mass detention of an estimated 1 million or more individuals.
Beijing says the detention centers – which it initially denied existed – were vocational education and training centers that have since closed after the trainees “graduated”.
Among the report’s recommendations and a major concern for Uyghur families is identifying the whereabouts and well-being of all detainees.
Retired doctor Gulshan Abbas was detained in Xinjiang four years ago this month on allegations of terrorism and ‘crimes of disrupting social order’, and his family has not heard from him since. .
“We have some ideas as to where she might be but no confirmation as no one in my family back home had access to her in those years, no one was allowed to see her at least not to our knowledge,” said his daughter, Ziba Murat. , said. “I still don’t know how she is, her fragile health.”
Murat criticized the delay in publishing the report and its failure to address the genocide issue, but urged action. “It’s natural that I want the report to be stronger, but it’s a step towards accountability,” she told the Guardian.
“My mother’s case is just the tip of the iceberg… It is crucial for international communities, countries to put people’s lives and human dignity before any economic and commercial interests with the Chinese government. , he must be called out for these atrocities.
“We have already lost so much: mosques, shrines, cultural sites, let’s go [and we] can’t take it back. But we still have time to save those innocent lives, so act accordingly.
At a conference last week, Fernand de Varennes, the UN’s special rapporteur on minority issues, suggested the UN’s credibility was at stake in its next step on the report.
“If you allow a country to go unpunished for crimes against humanity in relation to minorities, that opens the door to potential genocides,” de Varennes said.
“We must remember that the UN has not always been very good at preventing genocide in the past. Here we may have the opportunity to do something much more proactive, otherwise we will set the stage, I think, for some unfortunate developments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report