‘Slanderous lies’: China lashes Aussie group over damning new report

·News Reporter
·3-min read

China's foreign ministry has hit out at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) after its latest report on Xinjiang and the alleged human rights abuses of Uyghurs and Muslim minorities in the country's west.

The ASPI says its latest research has shed further light on the extreme controls the Communist Party of China has enforced on the everyday lives of residents in the province since it vowed to counter religious extremism in 2014.

Yet Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin lambasted the ASPI on Tuesday evening, stressing it continues to "dish out numerous lies and disinformation on China and Xinjiang".

"This discredited body lacks basic factual basis and runs against the professional ethics of academic research. 

Wang Wenbin heavily criticised the ASPI on Tuesday. Source: FMPRC
Wang Wenbin heavily criticised the ASPI on Tuesday. Source: FMPRC

"The reports it fabricated, including those lies of 'forced labor', are nothing but slanderous rhetoric without any credibility," he claimed.

Report says surveillance rife in Xinjiang

The new report detailed the political hierarchy which filters down to grassroots local governance, enacted through neighbourhood committees perviously seen in the Mao era.

Such committees receive tip offs from widespread surveillance of citizens and those involved would act if "micro clues" such as international phone calls or unexpected visitors were detected, the ASPI said.

Such control is designed to "help stamp out dissent and instability and to increase the party’s domination in the lowest reaches of society".

Xinjiang residents appear glum as they fly the Chinese flag in 2017. Source: Keriye County official WeChat account/ ASPI
Xinjiang residents appear glum as they fly the Chinese flag in 2017. Source: Keriye County official WeChat account/ ASPI

The report identified one 18-year-old Uyghur who was sentenced to three years in a re-education camp for using a file sharing app and a VPN, the latter which he denied using.

In addition, the report highlights the return of mass campaigns alongside labour camps in a bid to stamp out "evil forces" still lurking.

"Xinjiang residents are also compelled to participate in acts of political theatre, such as mass show trials, public denunciation sessions, loyalty pledges, sermon-like ‘propaganda lectures’, and chants for Xi Jinping’s good health," it said.

Australian think tank accused of 'demonising China'

The foreign ministry has a history of heavily criticising ASPI, which has covered Xinjiang extensively. Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the think tank of maliciously "demonising China" last year.

China's control over Xinjiang goes far beyond its internment camps, the report says. Source: CCTV/ ASPI

The ASPI is partly funded by the Australian government and has sponsorship from the US State Department, which China says gives it little credibility particularly at a time when diplomatic relations with the two countries are extremely poor.

The ASPI stresses it is a "non-partisan" think tank.

China has reacted angrily to suggestion of human rights abuses in its internment camps which has seen more than one million Uyghurs detained since 2017, according to human rights groups.

China continues to face widespread condemnation for the camps from the West, with ongoing allegations of sexual abuse, forced sterilisation and mental and physical torture in the facilities.

Several countries including the US have recognised China's actions in Xinjiang as genocide. Foreign Minister Wang Yi branded such a position as "preposterous" earlier this year.

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