Beijing, June 16 (IANS) The Chinese government on Sunday said that it has reached a broad consensus on counter-terrorism with the UN following the controversial visit by a top ranking envoy to Xinjiang where an estimated 1 million ethnic Muslim Uyghurs are living in confinement.
The visit to Xinjiang by the Under Secretary of the UN counter-terrorism office, Vladimir Voronkov, has been strongly criticized by the US which, on Friday, called it “highly inappropriate in view of the unprecedented repression campaign underway in Xinjiang against the Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims”, reports Efe news.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, that Voronkov visited Beijing and Xinjiang from June 13 to 15 and met with senior Chinese diplomats, including Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng.
According to the statement, both sides reached a broad consensus after exchanging views on the fight against terrorism as well as counter-terrorism cooperation between China and the UN.
It added that China and the world must take a united stand against terrorism and that Beijing supported the efforts of the UN’s counter-terrorism office.
Prior to the visit, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to express deep concern over Voronkov’s visit given that Beijing “continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uyghurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not,” a State Department spokesperson said Friday.
“The UN’s topmost counterterrorism official is putting at risk the U.N.’s reputation and credibility on counterterrorism and human rights by lending credence to these false claims,” added the spokesperson.
Sullivan also stressed that it was necessary to ensure UN human rights officers to have unsupervised and free access to all camps and detainees in Xinjiang.
According to experts, exiles and organisations, in Xinjiang there are more than 1 million Uyghur-ethnic Muslims confined in indoctrination camps which Beijing defines as “re-education centres”.
In these camps, authorities use not only the most advanced facial recognition technology, but also personal data analysis to monitor and follow up, according to Human Rights Watch.
Media have restricted access to the north-western region of China, and the US urged Beijing in March to allow UN officials such as high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, or the rapporteur on religious freedom, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit.
Washington has expressed concern over the fact that it was the UN counter terrorism officer who visited this closed-off region.