China defends Xinjiang centers for Muslims, but aims to ‘downsize’

China Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng. (REUTERS photo)

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Le Yucheng, on Friday, defended what China calls its vocational training centres in Xinjiang for Muslims and rejected interference in domestic affairs.

China has faced growing international opprobrium for the centres that rights groups describe as internment camps.

Beijing has said the measures are needed to stem the threat of Islamist militancy.

Le, speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council at the conclusion of a review of its record held every five years, said: “As the counter-terrorism situation improves, the training program will be gradually downsized, leading to its completion”.

“Without our decisive measures, violent terrorist attacks would have escalated in Xinjiang and spread to other parts of China and the world,” Le told the Geneva forum.

Xinjiang is a vast region bordering central Asia that is home to millions of ethnic minority Muslims.

Adrian Zenz, a leading independent researcher on China’s ethnic policies said on Wednesday that an estimated 1.5 million Uighurs and other Muslims could be held in the centres in Xinjiang, up from his earlier figure of 1 million.

SOURCE: Reuters

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