Japan and Australia voiced “serious concerns” on Wednesday over reports of human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, but Beijing dismissed the remarks as a malicious smear.
Calls have grown from some Western nations to investigate if China’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide, as the United States and parliaments in nations such as Britain and Canada have described China’s policies there.
“We share serious concerns about reported human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” Japan and Australia said in a joint statement after a meeting of the Defense and Foreign Ministers of both countries.
“We call on China to grant urgent, meaningful and unfettered
access to Xinjiang for independent international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi met their Australian counterparts, Marise Payne and Peter Dutton, via video conferencing.
Beijing’s foreign ministry expressed strong opposition to the two countries using the “China threat” and deliberately disparaging the country.
At a regular news briefing, ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin urged all parties to refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs and damaging regional peace and stability.
The ministers also expressed alarm about recent steps that they said harmed Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, advocated peace and stability in the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, and expressed severe concern about Myanmar’s issue.
“We vehemently condemn the brutality being perpetrated against the people of Myanmar and demand that the military dictatorship immediately stop the violence and measures restricting freedom of expression, as well as release all those arbitrarily detained,” they added.
Myanmar has been in chaos since a military takeover on February 1, with daily protests and border warfare between the military and ethnic minority groups.