Chinese ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming struggled to explain footage of blindfolded, shaven Uighur Muslims being escorted by soldiers on to trains, in a Sunday interview on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.
The drone footage was originally posted on YouTube in 2019 by an account called War on Fear, and was subsequently authenticated by Australian and other western analysts. China has incarcerated roughly one million Uighurs and has embarked on a campaign of forced sterilizations and family separation to control the Uighur population.
While China contends that its actions are meant to combat terrorism, the ruling Communist Party is widely considered to be asserting power over the Muslim minority by means of ethnic cleansing.
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 19, 2020
“Can you tell us what is happening here?” host Andrew Marr asked Liu on Sunday.
“I cannot see…I still remember last year, you showed me what is happening in Xinjiang,” Liu responded. After asking whether Marr had been to Xinjiang, Liu said, “You know, Xinjiang is regarded as the most beautiful place in [China]. There’s a Chinese saying: you do not know how big China is–”
“Ambassador, that is not beautiful coverage, is it?” Marr interjects. As Marr presses the ambassador, Liu goes on to deny that Uighurs are systematically rounded up and placed in detention camps, or that the Chinese government is attempting to stop the Uighur population from growing.
“According to your own local government statistics, the population growth in Uighur jurisdictions…has fallen by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018,” Marr said.
“That’s not right,” Liu responded. “In the past 40 years…the population in Xinjiang increased to double, so there’s no so-called restriction, there’s no so-called forced abortion and so on.”
China has continued its detention and indoctrination of the Uighur population during the coronavirus pandemic. A government initiative has placed Uighur detainees in low-level factory jobs, with some of them producing medical equipment for the global supply chain, the New York Times reported.