BBC Grills Chinese Ambassador on Video of People Being Herded Onto Trains In Blindfolds

NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party’s ambassador to Britain has been quizzed on drone footage which appears to show people in blindfolds being herded onto trains in Xinjiang.

Speaking to BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr on his Sunday morning show, Liu Xiaoming was asked if could “tell us what is happening here” as the alleged drone footage played on screen behind him.

“I cannot see, uh, you know, this, this a view [sic] — this is not the first time you show me [this],” the ambassador said.

“I, I still remember last year, you show me what is happening in Xinjiang, but, but let me tell you this: Xinjiang — have you been to Xinjiang yourself?” he asked Marr, cutting himself off.

“No, I never have,” the broadcast replied.

“You know, Xinjiang is regarded as the most beautiful place in Xinjiang,” he appeared to say, slightly confusingly, of the Muslim-majority province, sometimes referred to as Chinese Turkestan — or, by many of its Uyghur inhabitants, East Turkestan.

“There’s a Chinese saying, you do not know how big China is–”

“Ambassador, that is not beautiful coverage, however, is it?” Marr cut in, bringing the official back to the subject of the drone footage.

“You know, Xinjiang, that is exactly what I’m going to tell you,” Xiaoming replied.

“Since 1990, Xinjiang has completely changed, because there’s thousands of terrorist attacks,” he began — but Marr cut him off again.

“Can I ask you, why people are kneeling, blindfolded and shaven, and being led to trains in modern China? Why — what is going on there?” he demanded.

“I do not know where you get this video tape,” the Chinese official answered nonchalantly.

“You know, sometimes you have a transfer of a prisons, and a prisoners, you know, in any country,” he suggested.

“But, but just what is happening here, Ambassador?” Marr asked again.

“I do not know where did you get this video clip,” Xiaoming said again.

“These have been going around the world, they’ve been authenticated by Western intelligence agencies and by Australian experts who these are Uyghur people being pushed onto trains and taken off,” Marr said.

“Let me tell you this, the so-called Western intelligence keep making up this false accusation against China,” the ambassador shot back.

“They say one million Uyghur has been persecuted — you know how big, how many populations Xinjiang has? Forty years ago it’s just four, five million, now it’s 11 million people, and people say, you know, we impose, we have a ethnic cleansing — but the population has doubled in 40 years,” he said.

“I’m so sorry to interrupt, but according to your own local government statistics, the population growth in Uyghur jurisdictions in that area has fallen by 84 per cent between 2015 and 2018,” Marr said.

“That’s not right. I gave you official figure. You ask me, I give you this figure as a Chinese ambassador. This is a very [authoritative] figure,” Xiaoming insisted, denying any “forced restriction of the population… forced abortion, and so on.”

Marr alleged that there was in fact a programme of long-standing programme of “forced sterilisation” of Uyghur women, playing a clip of a Uyghur women describing the “excruciating” procedure she went through.

“[T]here’s no so-called pervasive, massive forced sterilisation… It’s totally against the truth,” the ambassador insisted.

He added that the Chinese Communist Party was “strongly opposed” to such cases — but conceded that “I cannot rule out single cases, for any country.”

“When we see interviews like that, and we say people blindfolded and led off to trains to be taken to re-education camps, it reminds people in the West [of] what was going on in Germany in the 1930s,” Marr suggested.

“No, that’s totally wrong, there’s no such concentration camp in Xinjiang. I think we discussed it,” Xiaoming answered curtly.

“With regard to that video tape: I’ll get back to you,” he added.

“You know, there’s a lot of fake — even, we are in a modern, we are in Information Age, you know, media makes all kinds of fake accusations against China,” he said.

“People in Xinjiang enjoy a happy life,” he went on later.

“[E]very ethnic group in China is treated equal. That’s the success story of Chinese national policy,” he claimed.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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