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Diplomats visiting Xinjiang urged to speak with ‘a strong voice’ on behalf of China

Representatives from Brazil, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey urged to counter ‘anti-China fake news.’

By Mihray Abral for RFA Uyghur

May 1, 2023

Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Ma Xingrui (L) with China's Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi (C) and Vice Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Shi Taifeng (R) during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 13, 2023.

UPDATED at 6:05 P.M. EDT on 05-01-2023

China’s top leader in Xinjiang urged visiting diplomats from pro-China countries to support Beijing with “a strong voice” in the face of condemnation from the United States and other Western countries over the repression of Muslim Uyghurs.

On April 27, Ma Xingrui, the Communist party secretary for the region, met with consuls general from Brazil, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Turkey in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, on a visit at the invitation of the Chinese government.

“Some anti-China forces in the Western countries led by the U.S.A. are destroying the progress of human rights in Xinjiang by spreading numerous anti-China fake news and defaming China’s image,” Ma said during his welcome speech.

He called on the diplomats to raise “their just voices” in support of Beijing by speaking out on behalf of China in the international arena.

Ma also told them that the overall social situation in Xinjiang was stable with ethnic unity, religious harmony and economic and social development.

The visit came at a time when Uyghur rights groups have demanded that the international community take concrete actions to hold China accountable for severe rights abuses against the mostly Muslim Uyghurs.

The U.S. State Department and the parliaments of several Western counties also have declared that the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. Some have sanctioned Chinese officials and companies deemed to be involved in the rights abuses and forbade the importation of products made with Uyghur forced labor.

As international condemnation of Beijing mounts, the Chinese government has been inviting representatives of pro-China countries to visit Xinjiang to see what officials say is the region’s achievements in economic and social developments and the improvement of people’s livelihoods.

Many of the diplomats who have visited Xinjiang hailed from autocratic, developing countries that are highly dependent on China for trade and for infrastructure investment under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Hu Ping, a U.S.-based Chinese affairs commentator and former chief editor of “Beijing Spring” magazine, said Ma’s words reflected the Chinese government’s efforts to improve its deteriorating global image due to its ethnic genocide policy toward Uyghurs.

“The Chinese government is now using this method [inviting foreign guests] to soothe the international community’s attitude toward China,” he told Radio Free Asia. “The Chinese government is taking advantage of this type of opportunity, trying to show a ‘fake happy Xinjiang’ to the outside world and thus attempting to hide its crimes against humanity committed with cruel methods.”

Ilshat Hesen, a U.S.-based Uyghur activist and a vice chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress, said the Chinese government has invited foreign delegations to visit Xinjiang in recent years to try to counter the effect of economic sanctions imposed by Western nations.

Translated by RFA Uyghur. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

Correction: Hu Ping's name was misspelled in an earlier version of the story.


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