More than 30 countries have signed a letter defending China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region in response to Western criticism.
Ambassadors of 37 states from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America praised China’s “contribution to the international human rights cause” in the letter sent to the UN’s Human Rights Council on Friday.
The states, including prominent members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said China had faced terrorism, separatism and religious extremism in Xinjiang.
But the signatories said China had restored peace and security in the region through counterterrorism measures and vocational training.
“We note with appreciation that human rights are respected and protected in China in the process of counterterrorism and de-radicalisation,” the letter read.
The letter was a riposte to the action taken by 22 mainly European countries at the start of the week.
They had urged China to halt the arbitrary detention of Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs and other minority groups, which academics and human rights groups estimate have swept around one million people into forced re-education.
China did not sign the letter submitted on Friday, but the text closely echoed the language of statements delivered by Chinese diplomats to the council on Thursday and Friday.
China condemned the “distortions” and “hypocrisy” of Western media and the countries criticising its actions in Xinjiang. It said that the region’s people “feel much better and much more happy and secure”.
The letter from the 37 countries lauded China’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights” and particularly its contribution to “protecting and promoting human rights through development”.
This is a theme China has advanced in separate resolutions to counterbalance the Western attention to political and civil rights.
Signers of the pro-China letter, including Russia, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, also took the opportunity to repeat a position frequently expressed in the UN’s Human Rights Council opposing the “naming and shaming and publicly exerting pressure on other countries” by calling them to account for human rights violations.
New York Times