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Pro- and anti-China coalitions clash over Xinjiang and Hong Kong at UN

PRO- and anti-China coalitions clashed at the United Nations on Tuesday, with the United States leading 39 countries in a condemnation of Beijing’s human-rights record while 55 others attacked foreign interference in Chinese affairs.

The US, Britain, Japan and many EU countries issued a joint statement calling on China “to uphold autonomy, rights and freedoms in Hong Kong” and called for “unfettered access” to China’s Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, where Islamist separatist groups and US evangelists allege that mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims is taking place.

China has repeatedly invited EU diplomats to visit Xinjiang, but the offers have been ignored. Numerous Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, have stated after visits that there is no evidence to support the mass-incarceration claims. 

China acknowledges the existence of re-education centres for Islamist militants returned from the Syrian civil war, where about 5,000 Uighur separatists fought for the insurgents, according to Syrian authorities, but denies mass incarceration and points to the prominent role of Uighurs in governing Xinjiang — including the region’s chairman Shohrat Zakir — and the territory’s thousands of mosques as evidence that there is no religious or ethnic repression.

Pakistan led 55 countries in a statement opposing interference in China’s internal affairs over Hong Kong and reminding Western powers that the territory is Chinese. The statement praised the adoption of a national security law that it said ensured the continuation of the “one country, two systems” policy.

And Cuba delivered a statement on behalf of 45 countries expressing support for “counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures” in Xinjiang.

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