Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China is trying to stem a wave of sympathy in favour of the Uyghur cause whilst taking steps to deal with threats by Islamic groups against overseas Chinese. Meanwhile exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer, whom Beijing accuses of being in league with terror groups, condemns al-Qaeda threats against China.
Yesterday Algerian-based offshoot al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb issued a threat to target Chinese nationals working in North Africa as revenge against the oppression and killing of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
In response “we will keep a close eye on developments and make joint efforts with relevant countries to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of overseas Chinese institutions and people,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, adding that the “Chinese government opposes terrorism in any form and we'd like to increase our co-operation with related countries to fight terrorism, offering safety” to Chinese nationals.
As part of their diplomatic offensive, Chinese authorities appealed to the Muslim world to understand its policies and actions in Xinjiang.
In Washington Rebiya Kadeer, head of the US-based World Uyghur Congress, said in a statement released on the organisation’s website that she did “not believe violence is a solution to any problem”.
Responding to threats made by the Algerian offshoot of al-Qaeda, she noted that “global terrorists should not take advantage of the Uyghur people's legitimate aspirations and the current tragedy in East Turkistan to commit acts of terrorism targeting Chinese diplomatic missions or civilians.”
In spite of this statement Chinese authorities continue to accuse Ms Kadeer of being behind last week’s unrest in league with “three forces”, i.e. separatists, extremists and terrorists.
In general governments in the Muslim world have remained silent over the Xinjiang massacre, choosing to safeguard their good trading relations with mainland China, concerned they too might be criticised for suppressing domestic opposition.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the only discordant voice. Commenting the situation in Xinjiang he said that Chinese action was akin to genocide.
Turks and Uyghurs are related in terms of language, culture and religion.
Yesterday China’s English-language newspaper China Daily urged Mr Erdogan to “take back his remarks . . . which constitute interference in China's internal affairs”, describing his comments as “irresponsible and groundless.”