Beijing voices anger over gross interference after 23 countries criticise arbitrary detentions in Xinjiang

Chinas UN envoy has sounded a warning note over trade talks with Washington after the US joined 22 other countries at the UN in criticising Beijing over the detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

China has been widely condemned for setting up internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang that it describes as vocational training centres to stamp out extremism and give people new skills. The United Nations says at least a million Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.

However, Chinas UN ambassador Zhang Jun said: Its hard to imagine that on the one hand you are trying to seek to have a trade deal, on the other hand you are making use of any issues, especially human rights issues, to blame the others.

He said there had been progress in the trade talks but said of the US criticism: I do not think its helpful for having a good solution to the issue of trade talks.

Zhang described the accusations against Beijing as baseless and a gross interference in Chinas internal affairs and deliberate provocation.

US and Chinese negotiators are working to complete the text of an interim trade agreement for US president Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sign at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile starting on 16 November.

A US administration official said on Tuesday it might not be completed in time for signing in Chile, but that did not mean the accord was falling apart.

When asked if the statement criticising China could affect trade talks, Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the UN, said: I would be standing here regardless if it was China or wherever it is, wherever there are human rights abuses we would be here in defence of those that are suffering.

Britains UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, delivered a joint statement to the UN general assemblys human rights committee on behalf of 23 states including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

We call on the Chinese government to uphold its national laws and international obligations and commitments to respect human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, in Xinjiang and across China, Pierce said.

The group of states pushed China to urgently implement recommendations by independent UN experts on the situation in Xinjiang, including by refraining from the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities.

They also called on countries not to send refugees or asylum seekers back if they could face persecution, Pierce said.

Separately, Belarus UN ambassador Valentin Rybakov addressed the committee on behalf of 54 countries, including China, Pakistan, Russia, Egypt, Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Serbia.

He praised Beijings respect and protection of rights while dealing with counterterrorism and deradicalisation in Xinjiang and its commitment to openness and transparency by inviting diplomats, journalists and officials to the region.

Now safety and security have returned to Xinjiang and fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded, Rybakov said. We commend Chinas remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.



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