China labels human rights criticism ‘groundless’

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A Chinese ambassador on Wednesday shot back at criticism from the international community regarding Beijing’s treatment of ethnic minorities including Uighur Muslims and the people of Tibet, as well as its treatment of Hong Kong citizens, Reuters reports.

“At this high-level segment, the U.K., EU, Germany, USA, Canada, and some other countries abused this forum of the Council to make groundless charges against China, to interfere in internal affairs of our country. We firmly oppose and categorically reject these attempts,” China’s United Nations ambassador Chen Xu said to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Chen was reportedly responding to denouncements from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken held his first phone call with his Chinese counterpart in early February, during which he affirmed that the U.S. will “stand up for human rights and democratic values, including in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.”

Reuters reports that European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, to be allowed to investigate alleged mistreatment in Xinjiang and Tibet.

China has maintained control over Tibet since 1950, with many critics such as exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama calling the control over the country a “cultural genocide.”

“They should resolve their own human rights problems such as deep-rooted racial discrimination, gaps between rich and poor, social inequity, injustice, police brutality,” Chen said, criticizing Western nations in response.

“Ignoring reality, the above-mentioned countries fabricate and spread lies about Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong,” Chen added.

International commenters have decried the Chinese government’s crackdown on Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. President Biden addressed his concerns regarding Hong Kong during his first phone call as president with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

U.N. rights experts believe that at least 1 million Muslims are currently detained in reeducation camps, according to Reuters. Reports have come out of Uighur Muslims forced into labor, made to eat pork and be sterilized against their will.

Canada declared China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority group in the Xinjiang region a genocide on Monday, though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not support the motion.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called China’s treatment of Uighurs a genocide shortly before leaving office. The Biden administration is now reviewing that designation.

–Updated at 2:54 p.m.

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken Hong Kong Human rights of ethnic minorities in China Joe Biden Justin Trudeau Mike Pompeo Separatism in China Uyghur genocide Uyghurs Xinjiang Xinjiang internment camps

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