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US Criticizes UN Visit to China        06/16 09:44

   BEIJING (AP) --- The U.N. counterterrorism chief visited Xinjiang last week 
despite protests from the U.S. and a rights group that the trip would be 
inappropriate in light of the human rights conditions in China's far west 
region.

   Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov traveled to Beijing and Xinjiang from Thursday 
to Saturday last week, said a statement Sunday from the Chinese foreign 
ministry. Voronkov and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng exchanged views 
on international counterterrorism efforts and reached "broad consensus," the 
statement said.

   The U.S., researchers and rights groups estimate that as many as 1 million 
ethnic Muslims may be arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur and 
Kazakh minority groups.

   Former detainees have told The Associated Press that they were held without 
charge in "reeducation centers" where they were forced to denounce their faith 
and pledge loyalty to the ruling Communist Party. The Chinese government denies 
there is widespread abuse in these centers, which it says are vocational 
training schools aimed at combatting extremism and helping Xinjiang residents 
gain employable skills.

   In a conversation with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday, 
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan conveyed "deep concerns" about 
Voronkov's visit.

   "Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and 
other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not," Sullivan 
said, adding that Voronkov was putting the U.N.'s reputation and credibility at 
risk "by lending credence to these false claims."

   Human Rights Watch said Friday the U.N. should have sent a human rights 
expert instead of a counterterrorism official.

   China's foreign ministry did not provide details of Voronkov's trip to 
Xinjiang. 

   "Counterterrorism cannot be linked to specific countries, ethnic groups and 
religions," the ministry said in its Sunday statement. "It cannot adopt 'double 
standards.' China supports the U.N. in playing a central coordination role in 
international counterterrorism affairs." 


(KA)

 
 
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