China says reached ‘broad consensus’ with UN after Xinjiang visit

Residents walk through a security checkpoint into the Hotan Bazaar where a screen shows Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hotan in western China's Xinjiang region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Updated 17 June 2019

China says reached ‘broad consensus’ with UN after Xinjiang visit

  • US and other Western countries objected to a visit by the UN counterterrorism chief to Xinjiang
  • UN experts say a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centers there

BEIJING: China and the United Nations have reached a “broad consensus” about counter-terror work, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday after a controversial visit by a senior UN official to the restive far western Chinese region of Xinjiang this week.
The United States and other western countries objected to a visit by the UN counterterrorism chief to Xinjiang, where UN experts say some one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centers.
Diplomats said that along with the United States several other countries, including Britain, complained about the trip of Vladimir Voronkov, a veteran Russian diplomat who heads the UN Counterterrorism Office.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan spoke with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday “to convey deep concerns” about Voronkov’s trip because “Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not.”
In a brief statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said that Voronkov had visited Beijing and Xinjiang from June 13-15, meeting senior diplomats including Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng.
The two sides “had a deep exchange of views on the international counter-terrorism situation and counter-terrorism cooperation between China and the United Nations, and reached a broad consensus,” the ministry said, without giving details.
China and the world need to stand together to fight terror, and China supports the work of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, the statement added.
China has been condemned internationally for setting up the detention complexes, which it describes as “education training centers” helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.
Voronkov visited Xinjiang before UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who has repeatedly pushed China to grant the United Nations access to investigate reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly of Muslims in Xinjiang.
Guterres raised the plight of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region with the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, during a visit to Beijing in April.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over the past few days, where he has spoken of the importance of fighting extremism and terror. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)


Hong Kong protesters sing ‘God Save the Queen’ in plea to former colonial power

Updated 15 September 2019

Hong Kong protesters sing ‘God Save the Queen’ in plea to former colonial power

  • The Chinese-ruled territory has been rocked by weeks of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests
  • Demonstrators angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy

HONG KONG: Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters singing “God Save the Queen” and waving Union Jack flags rallied outside the British Consulate on Sunday demanding that the former colonial power ensures China honors its commitments to the city’s freedoms.
The Chinese-ruled territory has been rocked by weeks of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests, with demonstrators angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984, lays out Hong Kong’s future after its return to China in 1997, a “one country, two systems” formula that ensures freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.
“Sino-British Joint Declaration is VOID,” one placard read. “SOS Hong Kong,” read another.
“One country, two systems is dead,” they shouted in English under the sub-tropical sun, some carrying the colonial flag also bearing the Union Jack. “Free Hong Kong.”
With many young people looking for routes out of Hong Kong, campaigners say Britain should change the status of the British National (Overseas) passport, a category created after Britain returned Hong Kong to China. The passports allow a holder to visit Britain for six months, but do not come with an automatic right to live or work there.
“I am here to demand the UK protect our citizens’ rights in Hong Kong and speak up for Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration,” Jacky Tsang, 25, told Reuters.
The spark for the protests was planned legislation, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial, despite Hong Kong having its own much-respected independent judiciary.
The protests have since broadened into calls for universal suffrage.
China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” arrangement, denies meddling and says the city is an internal Chinese issue. It has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest and told them to mind their own business.
Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by the 1984 declaration.
“The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty between the UK and China that remains as valid today as it was when it was signed and ratified over 30 years ago,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said in June.
“As a co-signatory, the UK government will continue to defend our position.”
But it was not immediately clear what Britain could or would want to do defend that position. It is pinning its hopes on closer trade and investment cooperation with China, which since 1997 has risen to become the world’s second-largest economy, after it leaves the European Union at the end of next month.
The Civil Human Rights Front has also called for a mass rally in Victoria Park, just to the east of the central business district, but police have denied permission because of earlier clashes after huge gatherings.
Protesters are expected to turn up early in the afternoon anyway.