Beijing, Jul 15 (EFE).- Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang on his first trip to the area in eight years earlier this week, state media reported Friday.
This is the first public appearance since he traveled to the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong on Jun. 30 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese sovereignty.
On his Tuesday and Wednesday visit to the capital of the Uyghur minority region, Urumqi, he passed by Xinjiang University, a museum and a land freight port, where he said Xinjiang is no longer “a remote area, but a central hub.” This come in relation to China’s Belt and Road initiative, the plan that seeks to build highways, railways, ports, logistics platforms and other infrastructure in more than 60 countries.
The president’s trip comes months before a ruling Chinese Communist Party congress in which a reorganization of the party’s positions will be carried out and where Xi is expected to begin a third term as secretary general unprecedented among his predecessors of the most recent decades.
On his previous trip to the province in 2014, Xi gave a speech describing the situation in Xinjiang during his visit as a mix of “active violent terrorist activities, intense anti-separatism struggles, and a painful period of intervention and treatment.”
Since then, and according to some human rights organizations and foreign governments, internment camps through which 1 million Uyghurs have been forcibly passed and which China considers key to having prevented terrorist attacks since 2017, have come into use.
These alleged abuses against Muslim minorities in the area have been the focus of conflicts between China and Western countries, with the United States in the lead.
The US State Department published a report on genocide last year in which it highlighted among the crimes perpetrated by the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang “torture, persecution and sterilization and forced labor.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, made a visit to Xinjiang in May to try to learn about the situation in that region in the face of repeated reports of abuses against Muslim minorities.
China denies there is forced labor or that religious practices are oppressed in that region, and says the information is based on “unfounded accusations” that “outrage” the population of the area. EFE