China on Friday condemned a motion passed by Dutch lawmakers declaring that Beijing’s actions towards minority groups in Xinjiang amounted to genocide.
The Dutch parliament passed the motion on Thursday that “genocide is under way in China against the Uighur minority,” joining countries including Canada and the United States in applying the label.
Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in the northwestern region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.
But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday hit back at the motion, accusing Dutch lawmakers of using Xinjiang as an excuse to “deliberately smear China and crudely interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
“The facts show that there has never been any ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang,” Wang told reporters at a regular briefing.
The Netherlands is the first European country to accuse China of genocide, after Canadian MPs and the US State Department made similar statements.
After initially denying the existence of the Xinjiang camps, China later defended them as vocational training centres aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.
Beijing said last week that its treatment of ethnic minorities there and in Tibet “stood out as shining examples of China’s human rights progress.”
Wang on Friday said he hoped the Netherlands would “immediately stop its wrongdoings and take concrete actions to safeguard the overall situation of bilateral relations.”
He also said EU representatives were welcome to visit Xinjiang, and accused the EU of causing delays to the trip by demanding to meet with “criminals” sentenced for separatism.