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Chargé d'Affaires a. i. and Minister Yang Xiaoguang Gives Interviews on Sky News, Channel 4 and BBC

On 22 March, Chargé d'Affaires a. i. and Minister Yang Xiaoguang at the Chinese Embassy in the UK gave separate interviews to Sky News, Channel 4 and BBC, in which Yang stated China’s principle and position regarding EU and UK sanctions against relevant Chinese organizations and personnel over Xinjiang-related issues, and refuted relevant allegations. Sky News and Channel 4 aired the interviews live while BBC broadcast part of the pre-recorded interview in its evening news programme.

With regard to the UK Foreign Secretary’s announcement to impose sanctions on relevant Chinese officials and entities, Yang stressed that Xinjiang-related issues are completely China’s internal affairs. The UK’s unilateral sanctions against relevant Chinese officials and entities are based on lies and unwarranted accusations, and using human rights as an excuse. This fact-distorting move constitutes a wanton interference in China’s internal affairs and blatant violation of international law and the basic norms of international relations, leading to grave damages to the China-UK relationship. Deeply concerned and firmly opposed to such move, China reserves its right to take corresponding countermeasures and to safeguard China’s interests and dignity.

When asked whether China was surprised by the British Government’s decision, Yang expressed no surprise but deep disappointment and firm opposition to such a wrong decision. Sanctions against China are useless, said Yang, but will only unite the Chinese people closer together. “The general response I've heard is that the officials targeted by the sanctions took pride in safeguarding national sovereignty,” added Yang.

When asked whether China will take countermeasures against the UK, Yang noted that China doesn’t provoke confrontations or initiate attacks, but won’t take this lying down. There will surely be reactions because China will not succumb to external pressure, and our resolve and confidence in safeguarding our national sovereignty, security and development interests should not be underestimated. China is studying UK’s announcement and will make appropriate response in due course. Meanwhile, China urges the UK to change its course, reverse its relevant decisions, avoid damaging the bilateral relationship, and take effective steps to bring the China-UK relationship back on the right track.

With regard to allegations that the education and training centres in Xinjiang are “concentration camps”, and accusations of “genocide”, “forced labor”, “mass sterilization” and “separation of Uyghur children from their parents”, Yang said China has reiterated that they don’t exist at all. Such groundless accusations about Xinjiang are “lies of the century”. The alleged proof produced by the British media are nothing but lies and false accusations without any credibility, and the relevant photos and videos are either fake or quoted out of context.

Yang said, as part of the preventive counter-terrorism measures, setting up the education and training centres is aimed at educating and saving those who have been influenced or brainwashed by extremist preaching and those who have taken part in terrorist activities under duress so as to prevent them from going down the path of terrorism. Such measures have been proven effective in safeguarding the life and safety of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, including Uyghurs, and ensuring the trainees’ right to reunite with their families in line with law. Trainees learned Chinese language, the Chinese law and vocational skills at the education and training centres. Most of the graduates landed proper jobs and managed to improve their living standards.

In response to allegations of “forced labour”, Yang said that cotton farming in Xinjiang is highly mechanized and required few man power. The jobs are scarce, well-paid and competitive. “Why is there the need for forced labor?” asked Yang.

With regard to the family planning policy, Yang said that is still China’s basic state policy and is implemented nationwide, but minority groups including the Uyghurs enjoy much more favorable policy. The accusations against the Chinese government are totally groundless.

With regard to footages of prisoners being moved from one prison to another by a detention centre in Xinjiang, which had been shown by the British TV programmes repeatedly, Yang pointed out that this had nothing to do with the education and training centres. It is absolutely necessary to take precautionary and safety measures against dangerous offenders, and there is no so-called abuse.

Yang stressed that facts have proved time and time again that the allegations against China are totally unfounded. Xinjiang received more than 200 million Chinese and foreign tourists in 2019 alone. If there had been “massive tortures” or “improper measures”, why is there no credible evidence? In fact, China’s Xinjiang-related policies are widely recognized and supported internationally. At the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 64 countries, including Arab countries, made a joint statement in support of China’s policies in Xinjiang. We hope that, when the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control, more tourists from all over the world will visit Xinjiang. They can come to their own conclusion based on what they see with their own eyes. China has nothing to hide in Xinjiang, and all the measures taken can stand the test of history.

In response to questions about the nature of the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Yang said that the primary responsibility of the Public Security Bureau is to protect the safety of life and property, the legitimate rights, and the interests of the people of all ethnic groups, including the Uyghurs. Over the years, the public security departments have cracked down on serious crimes such as violence and terrorism in accordance with the law, and have received sincere and universal support from the local people of all ethnic groups.

Regarding the allegation by the former US Secretary of State that China had incarcerated Uyghurs in “concentration camps”, indoctrinating them with the ideology of the Communist Party and committing “genocide”, Yang reiterated that there’s no such a thing as genocide in Xinjiang but there had been genocide in the United States a century or two ago during the mass killing of American Indians.

As to whether China will allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang and foreign journalists to report in the region, Yang stated that China welcomes a visit by the High Commissioner and has been in close communication with the UN side on this matter. The door to Xijiang is always open to those who are unbiased and truly wish to understand the development in Xinjiang, but China firmly rejects any condescending practice of presumption of guilt. In accordance with the relevant Chinese regulations, foreign journalists can visit Xinjiang for the purpose of reporting on the condition that they abide by Chinese laws and complete relevant procedures.

When asked about a UK MP’s complaint of being harassed on social media by a diplomat of the Chinese Embassy, Yang pointed out that certain MPs spread falsehood about China’s Xinjiang repeatedly on social media and Chinese diplomats have the right to share the facts and figures with the public and tell the real story. “I don’t think that is harassment,” Yang added.

On the question of whether “one country, two systems” has become “one country, one system” and whether the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will become a “rubber stamp”, Yang underscored that the Chinese government is committed to full and faithful implementation of “one country, two systems”, but “one country” is the premise. After the turbulence over the amendment bill in 2019, the principle of “one country” was under serious assault. It is imperative to strengthen “one country” so that “two systems” can be more effectively safeguarded. What China is doing is to ensure that “one country, two systems” works well in the long run and to safeguard the interests of the majority of the residents in Hong Kong. With its members coming from all walks of life, the LegCo has extensive representation, and there will continue to be a variety of voices in the LegCo. The right of LegCo members to express their opinions is guaranteed on the premise of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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