China on Monday strongly rejected Turkey’s “absurd lie” about the death of a Uygur folk musician, saying the Turkey’s claim extremely wrong and irresponsible.
“China has made solemn representations to Turkey and is firmly opposed to its groundless accusations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference in Beijing.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and claimed that Abdurehim Heyit, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, had died.
But Heyit appeared in a video released by China Radio International on Sunday. He said, “I’m in the process of being investigated for allegedly violating national laws” and “I’m now in good health and have never been abused.”
“I saw his video on the internet yesterday, which shows that he is not only alive but also very healthy,” Hua said, asking Turkish officials to distinguish between right and wrong and correct their mistakes.
The Chinese embassy in Turkey also said in a statement on Sunday that the 57-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of violating state security.
According to Hua, the “three evil forces” (terrorism, extremism and separatism) in China and abroad have plotted, organized and conducted thousands of violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, causing the deaths of a large number of innocent people since the 1990s.
Based on its own situation and anti-terrorism experience from the international community, Xinjiang has made tremendous efforts to fight terrorism and eradicate extremism and has achieved remarkable results, and people are feeling much more secure now, she said.
Since the end of last year, diplomatic envoys and journalists from a dozen countries including Turkey have observed the social and economic progress during visits to Xinjiang. They also visited the vocational training centers that Turkey described as “internment camps”.
They are actually established to help local people learn the country’s common language and laws and new vocational skills and also to participate in anti-extremism education, the Chinese embassy in Turkey said.
Hua said that some Turkish media workers had said China’s strategy to fight terrorism and resist extremism is clear and wise and Turkey could learn from it.
“Turkey is also a multiethnic country faced with the threat of terrorism. Practicing a double standard on the issue of anti-terrorism will do no good to either country,” Hua said.
Beijing hopes that Ankara will avoid believing one-sided stories and have a correct understanding of China’s policy and efforts, and facilitate mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries with actual deeds, she added.
In another development, China expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition after two United States warships sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Nansha Islands on Monday as part of a “freedom of navigation operation”.
The ships entered China’s territorial seas without permission and China has lodged stern representations with the US, Hua said on Monday.
The situation in the South China Sea is stable and improving, Hua said, and the US, which deliberately stirs up trouble and creates tensions in the South China Sea, is unpopular.
“We urge the US to immediately stop such provocations and honestly respect regional countries’ efforts in safeguarding the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” she added.