China attacks Western reporting on Xinjiang as 'pure fabrication'

China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming speaks to members of the media during a press conference relating to continuing unrest in Hong Kong, at the Chinese Embassy in London on Nov 18, 2019.
China's ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming speaks to members of the media during a press conference relating to continuing unrest in Hong Kong, at the Chinese Embassy in London on Nov 18, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON/BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's ambassador to the United Kingdom on Monday (Nov 18) dismissed reporting by Western media on the Chinese government's policies in Xinjiang as "pure fabrication" and "fake news".

Asked in London about a New York Times article based on leaked Chinese government documents the newspaper said revealed details of the clampdown in Xinjiang, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said: "I can categorically deny there is such a document. It is sheer, pure fabrication."

United Nations experts and activists say at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in the western Xinjiang region in a crackdown that has drawn condemnation from the United States and other countries.

Beijing denies any mistreatment of the Uighurs or others in Xinjiang and says it is providing vocational training to help stamp out Islamic extremism and separatism and teach new skills.

A trove of leaked Chinese government documents revealed details of its clampdown on Uighurs and other Muslims in the country's western Xinjiang region under President Xi Jinping, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The documents, which the newspaper said were leaked by "a member of the Chinese political establishment", show how Xi gave a series of internal speeches to officials during and after a 2014 visit to Xinjiang following a stabbing attack by Uighur militants at a train station that killed 31 people.

The report said Xi called for an "all-out 'struggle against terrorism, infiltration, and separatism' using the 'organs of dictatorship,' and showing 'absolutely no mercy'."

The documents show that the Chinese leadership's fears were heightened by militant attacks in other countries and the US drawdown of troops from Afghanistan.

It was unclear how the documents, totalling 403 pages, were gathered and selected, the newspaper said.

 
 
 
 

China's Foreign Ministry did not deny the authenticity of the documents, but said the New York Times report was "a clumsy patchwork of selective interpretation" that was "deaf and blind to the facts."

"The public in Xinjiang wholeheartedly endorsed China's measures to maintain stability. China will show no mercy to terrorists and will spare no measures in protecting people's lives and safety," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

"The experience could be borrowed in other countries."

The state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Monday that the report "lacks morality" and accused some in the West of being "eager to see Xinjiang engulfed in extreme violence and chaos".

It said China had taken "decisive measures" in the region to ensure it did not become "another Republic of Chechnya".

The documents show how officials were given talking points to explain to returning university students that their family members had been taken away for training, and how the programme faced push-back from some local officials, the report said.

They also show that the internment camps expanded quickly after Chen Quanguo was appointed in August 2016 as the party boss of the region, the report said.

Chen had taken a tough line to quell restiveness against Communist Party rule during his previous posting in Tibet.