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Home > Ambassador's Events & Remarks
Ambassador Zheng Zeguang Made Remarks and Answered Questions at Online Press Conference on Xinjiang-related Issues Co-host by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
2021/09/10

On September 9, the Chinese Embassy in the UK joined the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in a joint online press conference on Xinjiang-related issues. Chinese Embassy invited to the press conference renowned British scholars and journalists were from 21 media outlets, including BBC, Sky News, Reuters, Financial Times, China's Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, CCTV, CGTN, China Daily, Global Times, Guancha, and RT, Deutsche Welle, NBC, AFP, Bloomberg, China South Morning Post, Phoenix Infonews, European Times and the Chinese Weekly.

Xu Guixiang, Spokesperson of the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, made the opening speech. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang delivered remarks at the press conference. British scholar Graham Perry also spoke at the event. Participating officials, scholars and residents from the autonomous region then presented Xinjiang in multiple areas, and refuted the 28 groundless allegations made by anti-China elements, including those alleging "massive detention", "suppression of religious freedom", "forced labour", "sexual assault and abuse" and "genocide". Ambassador Zheng and Mr Xu then answered questions on Xinjiang's counter-terrorism efforts and human rights conditions, China-UK relations, the implications of Afghanistan's situation for Xinjiang, and other questions raised by journalists from People's Daily, China Daily, Global Times, CGTN, Sky News and Phoenix Infonews.

The transcript of Ambassador Zheng's remarks and Q&A is as follows:

Mr Xu,

Mr Perry,

Friends from the press:

Welcome to the press conference.

Just now, Mr Xu explained the background for this press conference. He also laid bare, from both factual and legal perspectives, the nature of the so-called "Uyghur Tribunal". It is nothing but a farce carried out by a small number anti-China elements.

I want to make the following points:

First, the Uygur ethnic group is a member of the big family of the Chinese nation. No one cares more than the Chinese Government about the development in Xinjiang and the well-being of the people there.

As President Xi Jinping stated, all ethnic groups of China are brothers and sisters of one big, close-knit family; they are closely bond like pomegranate seeds and come to each other's aid when needed; no ethnic group should be left behind as we build a modern socialist country in a comprehensive way.

The Chinese Government remains unwavering in its determination to implement the relevant policies on Xinjiang. We will continue promoting high quality development, ethnic solidarity and social progress and improving the life of the people in Xinjiang, so that the people of all ethnic groups in the region will enjoy a happy life.

The second point I want to make is that the so-called Xinjiang-related issues have nothing to do with human rights, ethnic groups or religions, but everything to do with fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism. The Vocational Education and Training Centres in Xinjiang are absolutely not "concentration camps", but preventative and de-radicalisation measures. In nature, they are no different from the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) of the UK or the de-radicalisation centres in France.

The allegation of "genocide" is even more absurd. In the past 40 years, the population of Uygurs in Xinjiang has increased from 5.55 million to 11.6 million. Life expectancy for Uygurs has risen from 30 to 72 in the past 60 years. What else is more remote from "genocide"?

The fact is, remarkable achievements have been made in the economic and social development in Xinjiang, and thus government policies have won the whole-hearted support of the people of all ethnic groups in the region, including the Uygurs. In the past 40 plus years, average disposable income of the Xinjiang residents has been growing at an annual rate of over 12%. In the past two years, Xinjiang's GDP growth rate had been 6.5%, and in the first half of this year, Xinjiang's GDP reached 732.89 billion RMB yuan, increasing by 9.9% year-on-year.

Before coming to the UK, I had the pleasure of visiting Xinjiang, and I was impressed by the new buildings, the wide avenues, the beautiful parks, the booming cities and the smiles on the faces of the local people. As the Uyghurs say, Xinjiang is a good place. Now is the best time in history for Xinjiang to achieve development.

The third point I want to make is that the so-called "Uyghur Tribunal" is in nature a political manipulation aimed at discrediting China. It is a non-governmental entity funded by anti-China forces. It is a fake and has no legal basis or validity whatsoever. Its so-called "evidence" is nothing but sheer lies and disinformation. Its so-called "experts" are rumour mongers who have long engaged in slandering China. And the so-called "witnesses" the organizers have put together are merely actors who have been making up the so-called "persecution" that never happened at all. The organisation has been designed to tarnish the image of China, mislead the public here, spoil the goodwill between the Chinese people and the British people and disrupt the smooth development of the China-UK relationship. We are firmly opposed to it and strongly condemn such malicious act.

Facts are facts. We hope you will view Xinjiang-related issues from an objective perspective and see through the real motives of those organizers of the so-called tribunal. Rumours will not write off Xinjiang's comprehensive progress. Attempts to disrupt Xinjiang's stability and prosperity are doomed to fail. Xinjiang will continue to achieve even greater success in its economic and social development in the years to come. The clumsy shows of those anti-China elements will be futile.

China-UK relationship is at a critical juncture. We need to tap the potentials of mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries. So it is all the more necessary for people here to see the real pictures of Xinjiang and to see through the motives of those organizers of the so-called "tribunal" and not to allow them to continue to mislead the public and spoil the goodwill between the peoples of China and the UK.

Thank you!

 

Sky News: Thank you so much. I got a question for Ambassador Zheng if possible. Obviously, China frames its actions in Xinjiang all about dealing with the Islamist terrorist threats. I want to know, does China believe that the terrorist threat to its country is greater given the events that we've seen in the last few weeks in Afghanistan? Would China consider taking military action in Afghanistan if it believes there is a terrorist threat there? Finally, we've seen the reports in recent days that China is thinking of moving soldiers into Bagram air base. Is that correct and can you talk about that, please?

Ambassador Zheng: The question is about our policies on Xinjiang and the situation in Afghanistan.

We will stay vigilant against the changing external environment. Our policies on Xinjiang will remain steadfast. We will continue to take effective measures to deal with the threat of terrorism, extremism and separatism. We will continue to promote security, stability, economic and social development in Xinjiang. We have full confidence that Xinjiang will have an even brighter prospect in the years to come.

On Afghanistan, now the United States and its allies are out of the country. They've been there for 20 years, and now the world has to face this mess. China has made it clear that the international community must respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity of Afghanistan, must respect the choice and will of the afghan people and provide humanitarian assistance and help to relieve the difficulties of the Afghan people. And, as you have just heard, China has announced a new batch of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. We have also made it clear that we hope that Taliban should live up to its pledge for an open, inclusive and widely represented government, and they will adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies including developing friendly relations with neighbouring countries. They must not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven of terrorism, and not allow the country to be used by terrorist forces, including ETIM (the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement) to undermine the security of other countries.

Terrorism is the common enemy of mankind. Counterterrorism needs the cooperation of all countries. So in this regard, we will continue to urge the United States and its allies to adopt only one standard when it comes to counterterrorism. They should stop the practice of double standards so that better conditions would be created for international counterterrorism cooperation.

China Daily: Recently, British MPs have written to the health secretary, urging him not to award the £5bn NHS PPE contract to companies implicated in "forced labour" in Xinjiang. That may raise concerns about Xinjiang's export as similar voices are frequently heard in the West. However, according to South China Morning Post, the EU's imports from Xinjiang, including products like cotton, have more than doubled over the first half of this year. What is your comment on that?

Ambassdors Zheng: To say there is "genocide" or "forced labour" in Xinjiang is totally baseless and ill motivated. To use that as a pretext to impose restrictions or sanctions on trade and economic relations with China is absolutely wrong. Such action would meet with our firm opposition and counter-measures. When it comes to questions concerning our sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and well being of the people, China will be very firm. And such restriction or sanction would inevitably come back to haunt the perpetrators, and hurt their own interest.

We have made necessary response regarding the moves that the British side has taken so far in terms of trade restriction and sanction. And we urge them to respect the reality in Xinjiang, to see through the motives of those China-bashers, like the organizers of the so called "tribunal", and not to make further moves that would undermine the mutual interests of our two countries.

By the way, as for the cotton industry in Xinjiang, we have just heard from the panelists that in Xinjiang, you don't need a lot of manual labour in the cotton industry, machines are used. So it is groundless to say there is "forced labour" in the cotton industry there.

We have full confidence in the prospects of the economic and social development in Xinjiang. We have full confidence in the development of Xinjiang's economic ties with foreign coutries. We also have full confidence in the reason and pragmatism of the people around the world. Don't underestimate the judgment of the general public! That is the message I want to convey to those anti-China elements who have been carrying out activities, and spreading the rumours against China and who have been organizing the so-called "tribunal".

Phoenix TV: Some British news media have a series of reports saying that the Uighur tribunal is going to hold a new round of hearing in London. Can I ask for a comment from you, Mr Ambassador: Do you believe the British government has shown and keeps showing its support to the tribunal? I believe many people want to know how seriously it will affect the China-UK relations? What will be China's response if the British government considers further sanctions to China because of the hearings?Thank you.

Ambassador Zheng: This so-called tribunal is a pseudo tribunal. It's a political show of certain anti-China elements. It's not going to get anywhere and is doomed to fail. It's not going to change the policies of the Chinese government in Xinjiang. We will remain steadfast. It's not going to stop the steps of progress of the people of Xinjiang. We will continue to make social and economic progress.

This so-called tribunal and the lies it is creating are destructive in terms of misleading certain sectors of the society, and in terms of preventing the general public from knowing the reality and truth on the question of Xinjiang. That is why the Chinese government has made solemn representations to the British government about this. We urge them to take actions to stop the organisors from continuing such malicious behaviour. We were told by the British government that it is not part of the "tribunal", that the "tribunal" is a non-governmental entity, and that the organisation has no legal authority. But the point here is, you should not allow these people to continue to spread rumours about China, because when they do so, they are undermining the good will and trust between the peoples of our two countries. So we will continue to make our position very clear to the British government and urge them to take actions in the right direction.

With regard to the sanctions you mentioned, first of all, if there is any more action of the British government in this regard, the basis is totally wrong, because it is based on these fabricated stories that have been spread by the anti-China elements.

Secondly, China will be resolute in safeguarding its national interests. Pressures and sanctions won't work with China.

Thirdly, any action in that nature will certainly come back to haunt the perpetrators and hurt their own interests of the UK. So it is our hope that people inside the government will make the right choice and not to be misguided by the anti-China elements.

Now the China-UK relationship is at a critical juncture. There are opportunities for its improvements and developments, and the potentials for mutually-beneficial cooperation are great, they are yet to be tapped. It is the common aspiration of our two peoples to work for the further improvement and development of our bilateral relationship.

We hope that the UK will work with China towards the same direction to implement faithfully the common understanding between leaders of our two countries, focus on positive cooperation and deal with differences properly on the basis of respecting each other's core interests and major concerns. By doing so, we will be able to preserve and further develop the relationship between our two countries in the interest of our two countries and the world.

Thank you for your questions.

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