China Tuesday condemned a top exiled Uighur leader for her “absurd” comments about Britain’s lavish reception for President Xi Jinping, adding that its far western region of Xinjiang was at peace.
The red carpet Britain has rolled out to welcome Xi is stained with the blood of Uighurs, Tibetans and dissidents, Rebiya Kadeer, the president of the World Uyghur Congress, said in Tokyo.
China’s repressive policies had turned Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people, “almost into a war zone”, Kadeer added.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed Kadeer’s remarks as being “absurd and extreme”, and characterized them as “ignorant speech”.
“All types of people in Xinjiang live and work in peace,” Hua told a daily news briefing. “There is only a small group of people that seek to destroy China’s ethnic harmony and social stability. I think their actions and words should be condemned.”
China says Islamist militants and separatists operate in energy-rich Xinjiang on the borders of central Asia, where violence has killed hundreds in recent years.
Radio Free Asia reported that at least 50 people died last month in an attack at a Xijiang coal mine that police blamed on knife-wielding separatists, just before China marked 60 years since its founding of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
But exiles and rights groups say China has never presented convincing evidence of the existence of a cohesive militant group, and that much of the unrest can be traced back to frustration at controls over the culture and religion of the Uighur people. Beijing strongly denies such charges.
China dismisses Kadeer as an “anti-Chinese splittist”. She is a former Chinese political prisoner accused of leaking state secrets in 1999. She was later allowed to leave on medical grounds and now lives in the United States.