Governor of Xinjiang province on Monday, December 9 called the recently passed Uighur Bill a violation of international law and accused the United States of interfering in China's internal matters.
Describing the contentious facilities in "Xinjiang province as counter-terrorism measures," the initiatives are "no different from anti-terrorism measures in the US", the region's Governor, Shohrat Zakir was quoted as saying in Beijing by Reuters. He also accused the US of choosing to "turn a blind eye to Xinjiang's social stability" and said the bill was "a smear campaign against the region using issues there to sow discord among ethnic groups in China," he added.
Warning against "any attempts to disable Xinjiang" Zakir, who is also the deputy secretary of Xinjiang Communist Party, said such efforts "is doomed to fail". Tensions between China and the US have escalated after the Uighur Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives with 407 to 1 votes last week. The legislation, signed by US President Donald Trump, condemns human rights abuse against ethnic minority Muslims and calls for the closure of the camps in Xinjiang.
While United Nations experts have raised major human rights violations in the province by stating more than 1 million Uighur Muslims have been detained in state-sponsored detention camps, Beijing has repeatedly denied the claims and has called the facilities "vocational training camps". Zakir denied allegations of human rights abuses and stated:
"At present, the trainees who have participated...have all graduated." "With the help of the government, stable employment has been achieved and their quality of life has been improved," he added. The facilities in Xinjiang will continue with its training program based on "independent will" and "the freedom to come and go", he said.
Zakir's press conference in the state capital included a display of images of past terror attacks from the region by separatist groups including those by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The images were taken from an English-language documentary called "Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang" which was aired on Chinese state media channel CGTN.
Chinese state media's response
In response to the bill, China Daily called the move a "stab in the back, given Beijing's efforts to stabilise the already turbulent China-US relationship." "It seems an odds-on bet that more (sanctions) can be expected if the latest approval for State Department meddling goes into the statute books," it said.
Global Times said China should be prepared for a "long-term battle with the US." The statement echoed the sentiments raised by Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday, who said, "Any wrong words and deeds must pay the due price."
Hong Kong bill and 'US interference'
The Uighur Bill came weeks after the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was signed into law by Trump. The bill, which sided with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, aims to certify that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy from China to decide its trading terms with the US and threatened China with sanctions based on grounds related to human rights abuse. Beijing has slammed the move and warned the US against interfering in its internal matters.
China's state media, People's Daily called the US-Hong Kong bill an attempt to contain China and called the move "idiotic nonsense". "The Chinese government will in no way allow anyone to act wilfully in Hong Kong, and must take effective measures to prevent, contain and counteract external forces from interfering in Hong Kong affairs," the editorial said.