China’s ambassador to the UK today insisted Uighur Muslims live in ‘peace and harmony’ despite being confronted with video appearing to show shackled prisoners being herded onto trains.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Liu Xiaoming denied reports that China is carrying out a programme of sterilisation of Uighur women in the western Xinjiang region.
Reports have accused China of attempting to reduce the Uighur population through forced sterilisation, but Mr Liu insisted this is not ‘Government policy.’
Experts estimate that more than one million Uighurs and other minorities have been rounded up into a network of internment camps in total.
But Mr Liu suggested video footage, believed to be from Xinjiang, showing men, kneeling and blindfolded waiting to be led onto trains was ‘fake’.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Liu Xiaoming denied reports that China is carrying out a programme of sterilisation of Uighur women in the western Xinjiang region
He added the images could be ‘transfers of prisoners,’ as he insisted ‘I don’t know where you got this video tape from.’
‘There is no so-called massive forced sterilisation among Uighur people in China,’ he said. ‘It is totally against the truth.’
However, Mr Liu admitted he couldn’t ‘rule out single cases for any country,’ adding: ‘There is no such concentration camp in Xinjiang.’
He went on to insist the Uighur population, which has reportedly increased in numbers in the last 40 years, enjoy a ‘peaceful, harmonious coexistence with other ethnic groups’ in Xinjiang.
Confronted by Marr about the footage, Mr Liu said: ‘Let me tell you this, the so-called Western intelligence making these false accusations against China, they say one million Uighur has been persecuted, you know how much population Xinjiang has?
‘Forty years ago it was five million, now it is 11 million people and people say we have ethnic cleansing, but the population has doubled in 40 years.’
Marr questioned his data, adding: ‘According to your own local Government statistics, the population in Uighur jurisdictions in that area has fallen by 84 per cent between 2015 and 2018.’
Mr Liu replied: ‘That’s not right. I gave you this figure as the Chinese ambassador. In the past 40 years, the Uighur population increased, the population in Xinjiang increased to double. The population doubled.
Reports have accused China of attempting to reduce the Uighur population through forced sterilisation, but Mr Liu insisted this is not ‘Government policy’
Mr Liu suggested drone footage, believed to be from Xinjiang, showing men, kneeling and blindfolded waiting to be led onto trains (pictured) was ‘fake’
‘So there is no so-called restriction of the population, no so-called forced abortions and so on.’
The ambassador went on to claim he can ‘easily refute’ accusations of forced sterilisation, insisting these are made by a ‘small group of anti-Chinese people working against the interests of China.’
‘People can enjoy a harmonious life, Uighur people enjoy a harmonious life, peaceful, harmonious coexistence with other ethnic groups,’ he said.
Mr Liu also rejected claims China was pursuing a policy of aggressive nationalisation, saying it was Western powers which were trying to foment a new cold war.
‘It’s Western countries, headed by United States, they started this so called new cold war on China,’ he said.
‘They have the sanctions, they have these smearing, name calling, take what happened with the coronavirus.
‘They still keep calling China virus, Wuhan virus. Totally wrong.
‘But we have to make a response. We do not provoke but once we were provoked we have to make response.’
It comes as Britain accused Beijing of ‘gross, egregious human rights abuses’ over its ‘deeply troubling’ treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang.
However, Mr Liu admitted he couldn’t ‘rule out single cases for any country,’ adding: ‘There is no such concentration camp in Xinjiang’
The ambassador went on to claim he can ‘easily refute’ accusations of forced sterilisation, insisting these are made by a ‘small group of anti-Chinese people working against the interests of China’
Dominic Raab said the reports of forced sterilisations and mass detentions in the predominantly Muslim region required international attention.
‘It is clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on… it is deeply, deeply troubling,’ he told the BBC.
‘The reports and the human aspects of it… are reminiscent of something we have not seen for a long, long time, and this is from a leading member of the international community that wants to be taken seriously.
‘We want a positive relationship (with China), but we cannot see behaviour like that and not call it out,’ Raab added.
His comments come as tensions between London and China are rising over a host of issues.
Britain on Tuesday bowed to sustained pressure from Washington and ordered the phased removal of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from its 5G network despite warnings of retaliation from Beijing.
The two sides have also clashed over Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong.
Dominic Raab said the reports of forced sterilisations and mass detentions in the predominantly Muslim region required international attention
The United States earlier this month slapped sanctions on senior Chinese officials, as it demanded an end to the ‘horrific’ abuses against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.
Beijing swiftly responded with counter measures in one of the latest episodes in deteriorating US-China relations.
Raab said he will update British lawmakers on Monday on the UK government’s next steps regarding Beijing’s draconian new law in Hong Kong.
That will include announcing the outcome of a review of extradition arrangements with the former colonial territory.
However, China’s ambassador to London warned it will make a ‘resolute response’ if Britain follows the US in sanctioning Chinese officials for the alleged abuses.
‘We never believe in unilateral sanctions, we believe the UN (United Nations) has the authority to impose sanctions,’ Liu Xiaoming told the BBC.
‘If the UK government goes that far to impose sanctions on any individuals in China, China will certainly make resolute response to it.’
Liu said he did not want to see ‘tit-for-tat’ diplomatic skirmishes between Britain and Beijing, as was happening with the US.
‘I think (the) UK should have its own independent foreign policy rather than dance to the tune of the Americans like what happened to Huawei,’ he added.