US bill on China's Xinjiang violates international law: Official

Xinjiang governor hits out at US in Beijing news conference where videos of past violence were shown

    Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir on Monday condemned the US bill on Xinjiang [Jason Lee/Reuters]
    Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir on Monday condemned the US bill on Xinjiang [Jason Lee/Reuters]

    A bill on Xinjiang passed last week by the lower house in the United States is a severe violation of international law and gross interference in China's internal affairs, the governor of the far western region said on Monday, accusing the US of launching a smear campaign.

    Tension has flared in recent weeks between China and the US over issues such as Beijing's treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority and protesters in Hong Kong, complicating prospects for a near-term deal to end a 17-month long trade war.

    The US House of Representatives passed legislation last Tuesday requiring a stronger response to Beijing's treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority.

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    The United Nations and activists say China has detained roughly one million Uighurs in mass detention camps in Xinjiang. China says the centres provide vocational training and are part of a programme designed to tackle terrorism.

    The counterterrorism measures in Xinjiang are no different from anti-terrorism measures in the US, Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir told reporters in Beijing.

    The US has also chosen to turn a blind eye to Xinjiang's social stability, and is launching a smear campaign against the region, using issues there to sow discord among ethnic groups in China, he added.

    Zakir, who is also deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Communist Party, said any attempt to disable Xinjiang was doomed to fail. 

    Human rights groups and former detainees have said conditions in the camps are poor, with inmates subject to psychological and physical abuse.

    At Zakir's news conference in the Chinese capital, images of past violence were displayed in excerpts from an English-language documentary, Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang, which was aired on China's state broadcaster CGTN.

    The Uighur bill, which passed 407-1, requires the US president to condemn abuses against Muslims and calls for the closure of the camps in Xinjiang.

    It also calls on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions for the first time on a member of China's powerful politburo, Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo

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    SOURCE: Reuters news agency