The western media is guilty of “double standards” when it comes to reporting on China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang, the official China Daily said in an editorial on Friday.
China has faced an outcry from human rights groups, foreign governments and United Nations rights experts over what they say are mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim ethnic Uighur minority in Xinjiang.
Beijing has denied accusations that it is systematically violating the rights of Xinjiang’s Muslims, saying it is only cracking down on extremism and “splittism” in the region.
The China Daily said the “false picture” of Xinjiang in the foreign media was “aimed at smearing the Chinese government.”
“A double standard is put into service to serve this end – China, critics in the West say, only imagines it faces a terrorist threat, and it is just Western countries that face the real threat of violence born of extremism,” it said.
China says Xinjiang faces a threat from Islamist militants and separatists in an area where in recent years hundreds have been killed in unrest between Uighurs and members of the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
Responding to recent comments by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that China is engaged in “religious persecution” in Xinjiang, the editorial said Muslims in the region were vulnerable to extremist overseas propaganda and needed education and vocational skills.
The U.N. human rights panel said in August that China is believed to be holding up to 1 million ethnic Uighurs in a secretive system of “internment camps” in Xinjiang, where they undergo political education.
Beijing has denied that such camps are for “political education” and says they are instead vocational training centres, part of government initiatives to bolster economic growth and social mobility in the region.
“The people of Xinjiang, who are of many ethnic groups, will definitely not allow a handful of bad apples to hijack the bright future of their common home,” the editorial said.