China is using its clout over the United Nations to promote and legitimize its so-called “re-education” centers in Xinjiang where communist authorities are subjecting Uighurs and other Muslim minorities to extrajudicial incarceration, torture, forced political indoctrination, the renunciation of their faith, and other human rights abuses, Chinese state media revealed on Monday.
The revelation came after the head of the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov of Russia, visited Xinjiang last week from Thursday thru Saturday.
On Friday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan spoke against the top U.N. official’s visit to Xinjiang, arguing that it would legitimize China’s crackdown on Muslims “by lending credence” to Beijing’s “false claims” that the indiscriminate incarceration of Muslims effectively combats terrorism.
The United States and other critics, however, have described the detention centers as “concentration camps.”
At the end of Voronkov’s visit on Saturday, the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism issued a statement without mentioning the oppression of Muslims in Xinjiang. Instead, the U.N. agency praised China “for its commitment to multilateralism and support to the United Nations.”
Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times gloated about the U.N. official’s visit on Monday, urging the international community to adopt Beijing’s anti-Muslim tactics in Xinjiang.
Citing a statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday, the state-run news outlet declared that Beijing and the U.N. official reached a “broad consensus” on counterterrorism cooperation between the Asian giant ant the international body.
The Global Times added:
Via the platforms of the UN, successful counter-terrorism experiences in Xinjiang could be extended to other regions of the world, especially in places where terrorism is still not effectively controlled, said Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing. Terrorism used to be quite rampant in Xinjiang, but the region has seen no major terror attacks during the past three years, which proves the effectiveness of the region’s de-extremism efforts, Li noted.
The visit by a senior UN official is expected to bring a more balanced view of China’s counter-terrorism efforts, as the UN stands for diverse values and it is not a clique that only speaks for, or stands for the values of the US or other Western countries, analysts noted.
In an editorial published on Sunday, the Global Times again defended Beijing’s mistreatment of Muslims in Xinjiang, claiming it has made the largest province in the country peaceful while the U.S. has failed in Afghanistan and Syria.
The editorial argued that the U.N. and the United States could learn from China’s counterterrorism tactics in Xinjiang, home to hundreds of detention centers described as “Muslim gulags” by Reuters.
Forcing Muslims into the detention facilities is a “relatively small social cost” to pay to counterterrorism, China’s state-run Global Times reported on Sunday, adding:
Counter-terrorism is a global challenge. The situation in Xinjiang has fundamentally improved with a large amount of work but relatively small social cost. People will realize how precious the Xinjiang experience is if they compare the region to Chechnya, Afghanistan and Syria.
Not everything is perfect in the process of enacting a large-scale fight against terrorism and extremism. When we evaluate counter-terrorism activities, we should consider their effects and costs. The US counter-terrorism tool is to go to war in Afghanistan and the Middle East at cost of a shocking number of innocent lives, which has not produced a solid effect. That’s why the US and other Western countries should learn from Xinjiang’s experience.
Independent experts and American government officials have accused Beijing of forcing up to three million Uighurs and other Muslims, including Kazakhs and Uzbeks, into the detention centers since at least April 2017.
A human rights panel from the U.N. itself lambasted China, saying it had received many credible reports that Bejing has imprisoned at least one million Muslims in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy,” Reuters reported in August 2018.
Some Western countries, namely the United States and the United Kingdom, objected to the top U.N. official’s visit to Xinjiang.
On Friday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by phone to “convey deep concerns regarding Voronkov’s travel to Xinjiang.”
In a statement issued Friday, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) added:
The Deputy Secretary noted that Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not, and stressed that the UN’s topmost counterterrorism official is putting at risk the UN’s reputation and credibility on counterterrorism and human rights by lending credence to these false claims.
As China’s largest province, Xinjiang borders several countries, including Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India.
The top U.N. official reportedly met with authorities in the the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi and “briefed” them “on the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its four pillars, which focus on conditions conducive to terrorism, preventing and countering terrorism and the role of the United Nations, and upholding human rights and the rule of law.”