China thanks Kazakhstan for ‘support’ of Xinjiang crackdown

Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov (2L) with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) attend a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on March 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 29 March 2019
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China thanks Kazakhstan for ‘support’ of Xinjiang crackdown

  • UN said China is holding one million ethnic Uighurs and other mostly Muslim groups in internment camps in the heavily policed region
  • Beijing has rejected the accusations and says it runs education training centers

BEIJI: China has thanked Kazakhstan for supporting its crackdown on the restive far west region of Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of rights abuses against minority groups, including ethnic Kazakhs.
China is holding one million ethnic Uighurs and other mostly Muslim groups in internment camps in the heavily policed region, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.
Beijing has rejected the accusations and says it runs education training centers as part of its fight against Islamist extremism and separatism in Xinjiang.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Kazakhstan counterpart Beibut Atamkulov in Beijing.
According to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry, Atamkulov said his country “understands and supports the measures taken by China’s Xinjiang region” to rein in terrorism, separatism and extremism.
“We appreciate the Kazakhstan government’s understanding and support for China’s position,” said Wang, according to the statement.
“We will never allow anyone, any force, to undermine China-Kazakhstan friendship and mutual trust,” he added.
The Kazakhstan foreign ministry did not mention Xinjiang in its own statement on Atamkulov’s visit to China.
But it said the two top diplomats discussed the “issue of the situation with ethnic Kazakhs living in” China.
The two sides “stressed a mutual interest in resolving emerging issues through working contacts” between the foreign ministries and an agreement was reached “on the revitalization of consular services,” the statement added.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan, which shares a border with the Xinjiang region, has been treading a diplomatic tightrope since major trading partner China began to forcibly send ethnic Kazakhs to internment camps under its anti-extremism policy.
One former detainee, a Kazakh national who was born in Xinjiang, told AFP that the camps only had one objective — to strip detainees of their religious belief.
Omir Bekali, who was arrested in 2017 after he returned to Xinjiang on a business trip for his Kazakh travel agency, said camp inmates were forbidden to pray or grow a beard, and forced to eat pork on Fridays, which is a holy day for Muslims.
Earlier this month, Xinjiang rights activist Serikjan Bilash, who has led an awareness drive centered on ethnic Kazakh victims of China’s crackdown in the region, was arrested in Kazakhstan.
He was charged with inciting inter-ethnic hatred, but later released from detention and handed two months of house arrest.
In October, an escaped Chinese national whose court testimony described a secretive network of re-education camps was denied political asylum in Kazakhstan, where her family lives.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.