Jul 03 2019

Uighurs in China are happy, says Turkey's Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that the people of China’s Xinjiang region, where Beijing has put more than a million Muslim Uighurs in concentration camps, live happy lives, Chinese state media reported. 

China has faced international condemnation for setting up what it describes as vocation training centers to combat extremism, but which many Western officials and watchdogs view as internment camps where Muslim Uighurs, who like Turkish nationals are of Turkic origin, are forced to give up their faith. 

"It is a fact that the peoples of China's Xinjiang region live happily in China's development and prosperity," state television paraphrased Erdoğan as saying, according to Reuters. 

Turkey is the only Muslim nation to have regularly expressed concern about the situation in Xinjiang, including as recently as February, when Ankara described the camps as a “great shame for humanity” and called on Beijing to close them. 

Erdoğan struck a more positive note on Tuesday when meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said Beijing appreciated Ankara prohibiting anti-China activities in Turkey as well as the Turkish government’s support of China’s counter-terrorism efforts.