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China’s Ambassador to the EU Zhang Ming said on Tuesday that his country’s “deradicalization centers” for Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang are “not entirely different” from those found in Britain, France and the U.S.
Insisting that the centers were effective in fighting terrorism, Zhang said: “Countries like the U.S., the U.K. and France have established deradicalization centers or correction centers. China’s measures are not entirely different from theirs.”
In Xinjiang, which is home to the Muslim Uyghur minority, the Chinese government is widely accused of violating human rights. China installed mass surveillance in the region and created internment camps, purportedly to fight Islamic radicalization. Increasing testimony of forced sterilization has helped push the U.S. and Canada to designate China’s activities in Xinjiang as a “genocide.”
Last month, the BBC reported that Uyghur women are systemically raped and sexually abused in these detention centers.
Zhang’s remarks come as EU officials are deliberating whether to impose sanctions against Chinese officials over abuses in Xinjiang.
According to NGO Freedom House, the U.S. scored 83 out of 100 in terms of global freedom of its citizens in 2020. The U.K. scored 93/100, and France got 90/100. In comparison, China scored a poor 9/100.
“Issues facing Xinjiang are about fighting terrorism, extremism and separatism, not human rights violations,” Zhang told the audience during a webinar organized by think tank EPC.
“The past four years have not seen a single terrorist attack in Xinjiang,” he added. “People feel much safer, they can sleep tight at night.”