Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday responded to extensive evidence that China is perpetrating genocide against ethnic Uyghurs in its western Xinjiang territory by accusing the United States of executing “the real genocide” against Native Americans, the state-run Global Times reported Thursday.
“In recent years, the population of Uygur ethnic group in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has doubled, and their average life expectancy has increased. Annual income, education and other indicators are all looking promising,” Wang claimed on August 4 while speaking at the virtual 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Wang specifically spoke “in response to US and Japanese delegates’ speeches attacking China,” according to the Global Times.
“How could such count as ‘genocide?'” Wang asked. “On the subject of genocide, the US’ massive killing in previous years of American Indians is the real genocide. The US’ waging warfare around the world, leaving casualties and sufferings of innocent civilians everywhere, is the real war against humanity.”
Several Western governments, including the U.S., and human rights organizations accuse China’s ruling Communist Party of illegally detaining 1-3 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang since about 2017. The concentration camps allegedly also target smaller minority groups in the Central Asia border region, such as Kazakhs and Kyrgyz people. Survivors and former staff of the detention camps say they witnessed or personally experienced physical and sexual abuse, torture, slave labor, and forced sterilization at the Chinese state-run facilities.
Outside of the camps, multiple heavily researched reports have compiled evidence of enslavement of Uyghur people and widespread forced abortions, sterilization, and infanticide.
China’s government officially denies forcefully detaining Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Communist Party officials claim they are shepherding the mainly Sunni Muslim groups into mandatory “vocational training” designed to help the minorities assimilate into eastern China’s dominant Han culture and society, which is not native to western China. The officials further claim the centers help the minorities successfully enter China’s workforce.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) alleges that many Muslim Uyghurs harbor “extremist” and “politically incorrect” ideologies and are in need of psychological rehabilitation. The CCP claims to provide this through its detention facilities, which it often describes as “re-education” and Marxist “political training” centers.
Roughly 10 million Uyghurs reside in Xinjiang, which is a vast frontier region strategically significant to Central Asia. Xinjiang borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. While the CCP’s Uyghur concentration camps are a relatively recent phenomenon, the Chinese government has for decades repressed the ethnic Turkic people of the region — who are the majority there but a minority when including the rest of China — responding violently to anti-communist protests and declaring all political dissidents a manifestation of terrorism.