US urges world not to repatriate Uighurs

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called China's campaign against the Uighurs "repressive".
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called China's campaign against the Uighurs "repressive".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on all countries to resist China's demands to repatriate ethnic Uighurs, saying Beijing's campaign in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang is an "attempt to erase its own citizens".

UN experts and activists say at least a million Uighurs, and members of other largely Muslim minority groups, have been detained in camps in the remote Xinjiang region.

"Further on the subject of terrorism, I want to make clear that China's repressive campaign in Xinjiang is not about terrorism. It's about China's attempt to erase its own citizens. ...We call on all countries to resist China's demands to repatriate the Uighurs," Pompeo told reporters on Sunday.

He made the comments after a meeting with the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries - Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan - in New York ahead of the United Nations General Assembly this week, during which Washington is expected to confront China over the issue.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will host an event on Tuesday on the "human rights crisis in Xinjiang" in China, diplomats said on Friday.

Beijing describes complexes in Xinjiang as "vocational training centres" helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.

US President Donald Trump's administration has considered sanctions against Chinese officials, including Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, a member of the Chinese leadership's powerful Politburo, since last year but has held off amid Beijing's threats of retaliation.

Australian Associated Press