China invites EU diplomats to see 'the real situation in Xinjiang'

China invites EU diplomats to see ‘the real situation in Xinjiang’ as Beijing is accused of widespread abuses against the region’s Muslim population

  • EU leaders urged President Xi to allow independent observers enter Xinjiang
  • China faces fierce backlash over its alleged abuses against Uighurs in the region 
  • Beijing agreed to arrange the trip for European diplomats, a spokesman said 
  • The bloc was welcome to visit to ‘truly understand the real situation’, he added

China has agreed to arrange for European Union officials to visit Xinjiang and ‘understand the real situation’ in the region where Beijing is accused of widespread abuses against the Uighur population. 

During a virtual summit on Monday, the EU pressed China to let its independent observers into Xinjiang, binding human rights to future trade and investment deals with Beijing.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman responded on Tuesday by saying that the bloc was ‘welcome’ to visit the region ‘to truly understand the real situation and not rely on hearsay.’ 

China has agreed to arrange for European Union officials to visit Xinjiang and ‘understand the real situation’ in the region. European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen (pictured) speaks during a joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 14

During a virtual summit on Monday, the EU pressed China to let its independent observers into Xinjiang, binding human rights to future trade and investment deals with Beijing. The file picture reportedly shows detainees in a re-education camp located in the Chinese region

The Communist country has faced fierce backlash after rights groups say over a million Uighurs languish in political re-education camps. This photo taken on June 2, 2019 shows a facility believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained in Artux, north of Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region

The Communist country has faced fierce backlash after rights groups say over a million Uighurs languish in political re-education camps, while a campaign of forced assimilation has targeted the mostly Muslim minority groups. 

A two-hour video conference was conducted yesterday between Chinese President Xi Jinping and EU chiefs, largely focusing on trade and climate change. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen later said they also urged the Chinese leader to grant access for independent observers to Xinjiang. 

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman from China’s foreign ministry, said today that Beijing had extended the invitation to EU officials during the virtual summit.

‘The EU has raised their desire to visit Xinjiang, China has already agreed and is willing to make arrangements,’ Wang told reporters. 

‘On Xinjiang issues, China always welcomes friends from other countries, including European countries, to take a look at Xinjiang and understand the real situation on the ground, instead of relying on hearsay or deliberately fabricated lies,’ he added. 

China has rebuffed past calls to grant independent access to Xinjiang, and the spokesman didn’t confirm that EU observers would be allowed to travel freely in the region.

Chinese officials have repeatedly denied allegations of genocide, forced sterilisation and the mass detention of nearly 1 million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang as lies fabricated by anti-China forces. 

They claim that the Uighurs are treated equally and that Beijing always protects the rights of China’s ethnic minorities.  

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman responded on Tuesday by saying that the bloc was ‘welcome’ to visit the region ‘to truly understand the real situation and not rely on hearsay.’ German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pictured speaking in Berlin at a video news conference with other EU leaders and  Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday

Rights groups, academics and journalists have exposed a harsh crackdown against Uighur and Kazakh Muslims in Xinjiang. This photo taken on May 31, 2019 shows watchtowers on a high-security facility near what is believed to be a re-education camp in the western Chinese region

Rights groups, academics and journalists have exposed a harsh crackdown against Uighur and Kazakh Muslims in Xinjiang, including mass internment, enforced sterilisations, forced labour as well as intense religious and movement restrictions. 

Beijing describes its Xinjiang camps as vocational training centres where education is given to lift the population out of poverty and to chisel away at Islamic radicalism.

China says criticism of its handling of Xinjiang is politically motivated, and based on lies about what happens in the vast facilities it has built.

In December China also invited Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil to visit Xinjiang and see the situation for himself after he decried the treatment of the Uighurs and criticised Muslim countries for failing to speak up about the alleged abuses.

The EU joins the US in taking China to task over its treatment of minorities in Xinjiang.

On Monday US customs said it would bar a raft of Chinese products including cotton, garments and hair products, from Xinjiang over fears they were made using forced labour.

China on Tuesday slammed the US move as ‘bullying’ and dismissed accusations of forced labour as ‘a complete fabrication.’

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