China says France misled by Western “slander” on Uyghur Muslims

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PARIS (Reuters) – The Chinese embassy hit back at French criticism of Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims on Thursday, saying French politicians were being misled by a slanderous campaign by the United States, Australia and Britain.French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday that the situation of Uyghur Muslims in the western Xinjiang region was unacceptable, asking Chinese authorities to allow independent observers to enter the region.

He said Paris was not only basing its position on testimony relayed by rights groups, but drawing its conclusions from its own sources that there were prison camps for Uyghurs, massive detentions. , disappearances, forced labor, forced sterilizations and the destruction of Uyghurs. heritage.

The comments sparked a rebuttal in China on Wednesday, with the Foreign Ministry spokesman describing the allegations as lies.

Le Drian said on Wednesday that his stance remained unchanged despite the Chinese reaction and that if Beijing wanted to avoid criticism, the right thing to do would be to allow observers in Xinjiang.

In response, the Chinese embassy on Thursday posted a lengthy defense of its Xinjiang policy on its website, denying the claims and saying French politicians were being misled.

“Recently, American, Australian and British politicians and some Western so-called ‘human rights organizations’ launched a new campaign of slander against Chinese Xinjiang,” the embassy spokesperson wrote. .

“Driven by political ends, they fabricated a whole series of sensational lies which touched public opinion and even misled certain politicians in France.

The text rejected as “absurd” reports that Xinjiang had established internment or re-education camps in which a million Uyghurs were being held.

“The reality is that the vocational education and training centers set up in Xinjiang in accordance with the law, and which are similar to the de-radicalization centers in France and other countries, are a useful counter-terrorism measure. and de-radicalization, ”the spokesperson said. .

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Nick Macfie

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