China’s foreign minister defended Uighur Muslim detention camps in Xinjiang on Sunday, brushing off human rights concerns by European countries and cautioning against interference in Chinese affairs.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on his first European tour since the virus pandemic erupted, seeking to revive trade and relations strained by the resulting global health and economic crisis.
Speaking in Paris on Sunday, Wang repeated the claim that all those sent to re-education centers in Xinjiang have been released and placed in employment -- even as rights groups and families report on continuing detentions of the region’s Uighur Muslims and the loss of contact with loved ones.
“The rights of all trainees in the education and training program, though their minds have been encroached by terrorism and extremism, have been fully guaranteed,” he told a conference at the French Institute of International Relations.
“Now all of them have graduated, there is no one in the education and training center now. They all have found jobs.”
The Chinese government has detained an estimated 1 million or more members of ethnic Turkic minorities in Xinjiang, holding them in internment camps and prisons where they are subjected to ideological discipline, forced to denounce their religion and language and physically abused.
China has long suspected the Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, of harboring separatist tendencies because of their distinct culture, language and religion.
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