China rejects US secretary of state's criticism on Xinjiang

BEIJING (AP) — China's government on Monday denounced U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for saying that Beijing is trying to erase Muslim culture in its northwest.

A foreign ministry spokesman rejected Pompeo's comment at the United Nations that the detention of Uighurs was unrelated to anti-terrorism activity.

Pompeo on Sunday called on Central Asian governments to reject Chinese demands that they send home ethnic minorities who might face repression in China. Pompeo said China is trying "to erase" minority cultures and religions.

The ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said Chinese activities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where Muslims are held in detention camps, are the same as de-radicalization efforts in other countries.

Geng complained that American politicians "slandered China's policy toward Xinjiang and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs."

"These measures are no different in nature from the deradicalization and preventive counterterrorism measures taken by many other countries, including the United States," Geng said at a regular news briefing.

"The lies of U.S. politicians can't deceive the world and will only further reveals their ulterior political goals," he said.

Pompeo made the comments in a meeting with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.