UNITED NATIONS – The United States and Germany slammed China during a closed-door United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday for detaining more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims, accusing Beijing of depriving them of their rights, diplomats said.
China has been widely condemned for setting up detention complexes in remote Xinjiang. It describes them as “education training centers” helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.
Acting US Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen accused China of suppressing and mistreating the Uighurs, according to several diplomats who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In response, China’s UN Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu told diplomats the United States and Germany had no right to raise the issue in the Security Council as it was an internal matter for his country.
When asked about the UN meeting, a US State Department official said: “The United States is alarmed by China’s highly repressive campaign against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims in Xinjiang, and efforts to coerce members of its Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate.”
The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Germany’s mission to the United Nations declined to comment.
The exchange, described by some diplomats as “heated,” occurred during a closed-door discussion by the 15-member Security Council on the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
Last month the United States, Britain and other western countries objected to a visit by the United Nations counterterrorism chief to Xinjiang, concerned the visit would validate China’s argument that it was tackling terrorism.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan spoke with UN Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of the trip to convey Washington’s concerns because “Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not.”