Saudi prince defends China’s use of internment camps for Uighur Muslims

BEIJING: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday defended China’s use of re-education camps camps for Muslims, saying it was Beijing’s “right”.

Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Beijing on Thursday following visits to Pakistan and India, showing the world that his country still has allies after the grisly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

During his visit, the Saudis said it “firmly supported” Beijing’s efforts to keep the country secure, and opposed “interference by external forces in China’s internal affairs”, said Xinhua, paraphrasing remarks from the crown prince.

The crown prince told President Xi Jinping that “China has the right to take anti-terrorism and de-extremisation measures to safeguard national security”, the crown prince was quoted as saying on the country’s state-run CCTV said, as reported by AFP.

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Saudi Arabia respects and supports it and is willing to strengthen cooperation with China,” he said while signing multi-million trade deals with China.

Mohammed’s remarks came as Riyadh has remained silent over China’s treatment of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the far-west region of Xinjiang

Up to an estimated 1 million Uighur Muslims and other minorities are being held in internment camps in Xinjiang as part of a draconian anti-terror and anti-separatist campaign, according to estimates cited by a UN panel.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the first to condemn Beijing, describing China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslims as “a great cause of shame for humanity.”

According to a report from the organization Human Rights Watch, “The Chinese government has long carried out repressive policies against the Turkic Muslim peoples in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China.”

“There have been reports of deaths in the political education camps, raising concerns about physical and psychological abuse, as well as stress from poor conditions, overcrowding, and indefinite confinement,” the report continued.

“While basic medical care is available, people are held even when they have serious illnesses or are elderly; there are also children in their teens, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with disabilities. Former detainees reported suicide attempts and harsh punishments for disobedience in the facilities.”

China refute the and said the camps were vocational training schools.

China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trade partner, outstripping nearby European nations and close ally, the US. In 2018, imports from Saudi Arabia reached $46 billion.

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Both the countries signed 35 memorandums of understanding worth a billion dollars at a joint investment forum held by Saudi Arabia’s investment agency SAGIA.

In Pakistan, the monarch signed a raft of investment deals worth up to USD 20 billion for the cash-strapped South Asian country.

On Wednesday, the monarch met PM Modi, and said the kingdom saw investment opportunities in “various fields to exceed USD 100 billion.”