China slams G-7 'manipulation' after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism

Human rights groups have criticised China's human rights record in the treatment of Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Monday (June 14) accused the Group of Seven (G-7) of "political manipulation" after it criticised Beijing over its human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

In a communique after a three-day summit in England, G-7 leaders slammed China over abuses against minorities in the Xinjiang region and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, while United States President Joe Biden called for Beijing to "start acting more responsibly in terms of international norms on human rights".

The Chinese embassy in Britain responded angrily on Monday, and accused the G-7 of "interfering".

"The Group of Seven (G-7) takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China's internal affairs, which we firmly oppose," an embassy spokesman said in a statement.

The statement accused the G-7 of "lies, rumours and baseless accusations".

Human rights groups have criticised China's human rights record in the treatment of Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang.

China has denied allegations that it is waging "genocide" by forcing Uighurs and people from other ethnic-Turkic minorities into internment camps in Xinjiang.

"We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms" the G-7 communique read.

At their first physical summit in nearly two years, leaders of the seven nations announced a number of pledges on Covid-19 vaccinations, climate change, rights and trade.

They also called for a new investigation in China into the origins of Covid-19 - prompting a response from the Chinese embassy that the work needs to be done in a "scientific, objective and fair manner", without agreeing to a new probe.

"The current epidemic is still raging around the world, and the traceability work should be carried out by global scientists and should not be politicised," the embassy said.

The coronavirus was first reported in central China in late 2019, and the World Health Organisation sent a team of international experts in January to probe its origins.

But their long-delayed report published in March drew no firm conclusions, and the investigation has since faced criticism for lacking transparency and access.

The G-7 also announced a new infrastructure fund which President Biden said would be "much more equitable" than China's massive Belt and Road Initiative.

The Chinese embassy statement complained in response that the "accusations against China on economic and trade issues in the communique are inconsistent with the facts and are unreasonable".

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