Türkiye is ready to cooperate with China and wants to send a delegation to visit Xinjiang, says Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusloglu.
The ebb in ties between Türkiye and China comes from Beijing’s "unease" over Ankara's support for the Uighurs of Xinjiang, northwestern China, Türkiye’s top diplomat has said.
Turkish-Chinese ties have suffered over Beijing being disturbed by Ankara's "attitude toward Turkic Uighurs. They have extradition requests for people who are our citizens, who are settled in Türkiye, and we don't grant any of them," Foreign Minister Cavusoglu told reporters at an end-of-year press briefing in Ankara on Thursday.
He added that online claims that Uighurs are being extradited to China are "a total lie".
"Our defending the rights of the Turkic Uighurs in the international arena disturbs China. But this is a humanitarian issue," he said, citing a UN Human Rights Council report on Uighurs in China released in September.
The report "reveals all (human rights) violations. We have to react to it," he added.
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Prevented from visiting Xinjiang
Stressing that Türkiye wants to cooperate with China in a transparent manner, Cavusoglu said: "Our ambassador hasn’t been (to Xinjiang) yet, they don’t allow him."
Chinese authorities do not allow the ambassador in Beijing to freely visit the region where Uighurs live but instead want him to follow a "programme that they provide", he said.
"Why should we become a tool for China's propaganda? They said that a humanitarian delegation from Türkiye could come and examine (the region). It's been five years since (Chinese President) Xi (Jinping) proposed this," he continued.
"Why have you been preventing this delegation from visiting for five years, why don't you cooperate?"
"We want to cooperate, we don’t see this as a political issue. We are categorically not anti-Chinese. We have always said that we support the one-China policy," Cavusoglu added, referring to the dispute over Taiwan.
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In September, the UN released a report on alleged violations of the human rights of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China, concluding that the country may have committed crimes against humanity.
The report found that mass detentions in China’s Xinjiang region from 2017 to 2019 were marked by credible documentation of torture, sexual violence, and forced labour, as well as forced abortions and sterilisations.
The 48-page report concluded that “serious human rights violations” were committed by the Chinese government against the Uighurs and other Muslims under China’s policies to fight terrorism and extremism.
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