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Saudi crown prince suggests China has 'right' to detain Uighur Muslims

Beijing can ‘take anti-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security’, Bin Salman says

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 24 February 2019 01:36 GMT
Uighur Muslim woman tells Congressional-Executive Commission on China she asked Chinese to kill her whilst in detention camp

Saudi Arabia supports China’s right to carry out so-called anti-extremism drives that have seen hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims detained in re-education camps, its crown prince has suggested.

Mohammed bin Salman indicated during an economic summit that he would not challenge Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang province, where up to 1 million Muslims and people from ethnic minority groups are thought have been detained.

“We respect and support China’s rights to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security,” Mr Bin Salman was reported as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Friday.

“We stand ready to strengthen cooperation with China,” he said added during a summit with premier Xi Jinping as the pair cemented a $10bn (£7.7bn) deal for a refining and petrochemical complex in China.

It came during Mr Bin Salman’s tour of Asia that has already seen promises of huge investment in Pakistan and India.

Mr Xi told the crown prince the two countries must strengthen international cooperation on de-radicalisation to “prevent the infiltration and spread of extremist thinking”, Chinese state television said.

Inmates in internment camps have allegedly been forced to consume pork and alcohol, and made to denounce their religion.

Beijing says the camps are designed for de-radicalisation.

In the US congress, criticism has been building for months over Saudi Arabia’s handling of the war in Yemen, where it is accused of causing widespread casualties and suffering among civilians.

China has refrained from adding its voice to criticism of the kingdom on issues such as the war or the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate.

Saudi Arabia’s ruling family has portrayed itself as the defender of Muslims across the world and protector of Islam’s two holiest shrines.

Additional reporting by agencies

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