China's supporters, critics clash at UN over human rights for Uighurs

Chinese ambassador warns of impact on trade talks

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A protest outside the Chinese embassy in Indonesia last year.

A protest outside the Chinese embassy in Indonesia last year. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Western countries like the United States, Great Britain, and Germany clashed with China and its supporters at the United Nations human rights committee Tuesday (October 29) over the repression of the Muslim population in the communist country’s province of Xinjiang.

A total of 23 countries presented a statement demanding respect for human rights and freedom of religion in the region and in the whole of China. Human rights experts from the U.N. should be allowed unrestricted access to the area, the statement said.

Support for Beijing came from a group of 54 countries, including Russia and the Muslim-majority nations of Pakistan and Egypt, which praised China’s establishment of “vocational centers” and said there have been no terrorist attacks in Xinjiang for three years, the Associated Press reported.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun warned that the pressure over Xinjiang could adversely affect any progress in efforts to defuse the U.S.-China trade war. While Western ambassadors argued U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet should be allowed access to all detention camps, Zhang responded that Beijing had invited her several times but that the West was trying to prevent her from visiting.

More than one million Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities have been interned for what China describes as vocational training.