Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said Pakistan accepts the “Chinese version” of the treatment of Uighurs, a minority Muslim ethnic group, in China’s restive Xinjiang province because of Islamabad’s “extreme proximity and relationship” with Beijing.
The US and the EU, besides many other countries, have accused China of committing genocide against the Uighurs in resource-rich Xinjiang, and called for an international probe by human rights groups.
Speaking to Chinese journalists as Beijing marked the centenary of the ruling Communist Party, Khan said the Chinese version on the Uighur issue was completely different from what was being reported in Western media.
“Because of our extreme proximity and relationship with China, we actually accept the Chinese version,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
According to researchers, an estimated 1 million people or more — most of them Uighurs –have been confined in re-education camps in China’s western Xinjiang region in recent years. Chinese authorities have been accused of imposing forced labour, systematic forced birth control, torture and separating children from incarcerated parents.
China has been vehemently refuting allegations of interning millions of Uigurs in mass detention camps, which were officially termed as education camps, in a bid to wean them away from religious extremism.
“It is hypocritical. There are much worse human rights violations taking place in other parts of the world… But Western media hardly comment on this,” the prime minister said, lashing out at Western media for highlighting the Uighurs” situation and Hong Kong.
China accuses East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which is entrenched in Uighur Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang, of being responsible for numerous violent attacks in the province and outside, including one at the Forbidden City in Beijing in 2013, killing several people.
Beijing has sharply criticised the US for delisting the Xinjiang’s separatist militant outfit from its list of terrorist organisations last year, saying it reflected Washington’s “double standards” on fighting global terrorism.
Khan also praised the Communist Party of China (CPC), calling it an “alternative” to Western democracy.
“Until now, we had been told that the best way for societies to improve was through Western democracy…The CPC has introduced an alternative model and they have beaten all Western democracies in the way they have highlighted merit in society,” he said.
Underlining Pakistan’s strong ties with China, Khan said whenever Pakistan has been in trouble, politically or internationally, China has always stood with it.
He stated that Pakistan’s relationship with China had nothing to do with India. “Our relationship is a bilateral relationship. It is extremely strong,” Khan said.
Commenting on the economic relationship between Pakistan and China, the prime minister said he sees the ties moving forward. “The next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is very exciting for Pakistan. We plan to attract Chinese investment for special economic zones as our labour is cheaper,” he said.