Beijing has accused the European Parliament of hypocrisy, after a resolution called for targeted sanctions against Chinese officials over the treatment of the Uighur minority.
China has faced international condemnation for rounding up an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in internment camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Members of the European Parliament said on Thursday that China’s human rights record had worsened in the past year, and called for the Chinese government to “immediately end the practice of arbitrary detentions without any charge, trial or conviction.”
In response to the resolution, Beijing called for the European Parliament to “abandon their double standards on counter-terrorism” and stop “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
“The people of Xinjiang and the Chinese people have a greater right to speak [about the situation in Xinjiang] than those who are far away in Europe, who have never been to Xinjiang,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.
MEPs had called for “targeted sanctions and freeze assets, if deemed appropriate and effective, against the Chinese officials responsible for severe repression of basic rights in Xinjiang.”
The European Parliament had presented a human rights award to the daughter of jailed Uighur intellectual Ilham Tohti on Wednesday.
Jewher Ilham collected the Sakharov Prize on behalf of her father, an economics professor hailed by the parliament as a “voice of moderation and reconciliation” but condemned by Beijing as “terrorist.”
Beijing initially denied the existence of the Xinjiang camps, but now says they are “vocational training centres” necessary to combat terrorism.
Last month, the New York Times obtained 403 documents on Beijing’s crackdown on mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the region, including unpublished speeches by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who urged officials to show “absolutely no mercy” to extremists.