China rejected US criticism of the UN counterterrorism chief's visit to the restive region of Xinjiang as "absurd" on Monday, June 17th after Washington warned it could serve to legitimise Beijing's oppression of Muslim minorities.
According to AFP, Chinese authorities have placed an estimated one million ethnic Uighurs in confinement camps in Xinjiang that Beijing describes as "vocational education centres" designed to drive people away from extremism.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang, said Vladimir Voronkov, the United Nations under-secretary general for counterterrorism, visited China from Thursday to Saturday, June 13th to June 15th, adding his trip was "very successful."
During his trip to Xinjiang, Voronkov and his delegation learned, "on the spot about anti-terrorism and anti-extremism measures in Xinjiang," Lu said.
US Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, called UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Friday, June 14th, to express his "deep concerns." Sullivan told Guterres that, "Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not," State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, remarked.
"The UN's topmost counterterrorism official is putting at risk the UN's reputation and credibility on counterterrorism and human rights by lending credence to these false claims," she added.
Lu replied: "I would like to say that the statements made by the relevant officials of the United States are extremely absurd."