(RNS) — As Washington ramps up pressure on Beijing to end its extrajudicial mass detention of up to 3 million Uighur Muslims, Chinese officials are accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy over its own record of anti-Muslim discrimination.
“Muslims have all along been the most discriminated group in the U.S.,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a news conference this week. Hua’s comments were a response to calls from U.S. lawmakers and officials for the country to close its extensive network of Uighur detention camps.
U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad’s urged Beijing to improve the human rights situation of Muslim minorities in China’s western Xinjiang province.
“It can no longer be denied that more than one million Uighurs and members of other minority groups have been detained in Xinjiang against their will,” Branstad said Tuesday (Dec. 10). “It is also evident that these egregious actions, including extensive security controls and surveillance, forced labor, blanket suppression of religious expression, and even the mass collection of DNA, are targeting Uighurs’ ethnic and religious identities.”
Both chambers of Congress have overwhelmingly passed versions of a bipartisan bill ordering sanctions on Chinese officials over the country’s treatment of its Muslim minority. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly demanded China close its camps, called on other countries to reject China’s demands to repatriate Uighurs back to China, and denounced China’s efforts to intimidate and threaten U.S. citizens and residents.
Hua dismissed those concerns during China’s Foreign Ministry daily news conference Tuesday.
“Certain people in the U.S. show unusual concern over Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang, but they seem to forget that the United States is the only country that issued a Muslim ban,” she said.
Muslim American advocacy organizations called China’s defense a “false comparison” and urged China to end its mistreatment of Muslims.
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