US report says China uses counter-terrorism as pretext to detain, carry out repressive campaign against Uighurs

Representative image

Washington D.C. [USA], June 24 (ANI): A US report issued by the Department of State has said that China uses counter-terrorism (CT) as a pretext to detain and carry out a repressive campaign against millions of Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in internment camps in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region located in the northwestern part of the country.
It said China's response to terrorism "remained difficult to distinguish from the government's suppression of peaceful activities that authorities deemed separatist or subversive in nature".
"The PRC government's CT attention remained on ethnic Uyghur so-called 'extremists' whom Beijing ascribes to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, despite a lack of evidence that a group by that name is still active. The PRC government shared international concerns regarding other terrorist groups such as al-Qa'ida and ISIS, among others," said the Country Reports on Terrorism 2019, submitted to the Congress, in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the "Act"), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act.
The report said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has detained more than one million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang since April 2017 because of their religion and ethnicity, and subjected them to political, linguistic, and cultural indoctrination as well as forced disappearance, torture, physical abuse - including forced sterilization and sexual abuse - and prolonged detention without trial.
The Chinese authorities also developed new legal guidelines and law enforcement tools to expand their capabilities to carry out this repressive campaign, which included pervasive, arbitrary, high-tech surveillance; the collection of personal data including DNA samples; compulsory stays by PRC government officials in Uyghur homes; and controls on the expression of cultural or religious observations, it said.
Details about alleged terrorism-related incidents inside China were difficult to verify due to a lack of transparency and information from PRC authorities, the report further noted.
The PRC government continued to stress the threat of domestic and international "cyber terrorism," as a continuing pretext to tighten monitoring and censorship of online speech and mobile communications.
The report stated that China, despite being a member of the FATF, the APG, and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (EAG) as well as the Defeat ISIS Coalition's CIFG, did not provide any significant updates related to terror activities in the state in 2019.
In April 2019, FATF in its Mutual Evaluation Report on China, noted deficiencies related to the implementation of targeted financial sanctions and understanding of terrorist financing risks among financial and non-financial institutions, businesses, and professions.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong continued its security and law enforcement partnership with the United States through the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department's joint implementation of the Container Security Initiative, the report said.
In 2019, authorities in Hong Kong falsely characterised the acts of pro-democracy and human rights protestors as terrorism. The PRC spokesman in Hong Kong also falsely described the actions of protestors as showing "signs of terrorism."
In September, the FATF report assessed Hong Kong to be at medium-low risk of terrorist financing and assessed that it has implemented sound systems to detect and investigate terrorist financing when it occurs. (ANI)