China hit back on Monday at comments by Britain’s foreign secretary that accused Beijing of “gross” human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities in the northwest region of Xinjiang.
Rights groups and experts estimate that more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been rounded up into a network of internment camps, which China says are facilities for job-training and to steer people away from extremism.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Sunday that it was “clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on . . . it is deeply, deeply troubling.”
But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the comments “nothing but rumours and slander”.
“The Xinjiang issue is not about human rights, religions or ethnic groups at all, but about combating violence, terrorism and separatism,” he said on Monday at a regular press briefing.
Raab said reports of forced sterilisations and mass detentions in Xinjiang required international attention, and that Britain “cannot see behaviour like that and not call it out”.
But Wang said the forced-sterilisation reports were “complete nonsense”, and that the Uighur population had more than doubled in the past four decades.