China says Erdogan offered support over restive Xinjiang

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a u-turn over the plight of the Muslim Uighur people and wants to maintain harmony in the Turkey-China relationship . (Reuters pic)

BEIJING: Turkey recognises the fact that the people of China’s Xinjiang lead happy lives, Chinese state media on Tuesday cited Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as saying, a region where China has been running a controversial de-radicalisation scheme.

China has faced growing international opprobrium for setting up what it calls vocation training centres to combat extremism in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people who speak a Turkic language, which many Western countries view as internment camps.

Turkey is the only Muslim nation to have regularly expressed concern about the situation in Xinjiang, including in February at the UN Human Rights Council, to China’s anger.

But meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Erdogan struck a more positive note, according to a Chinese state media read out of the event.

“It is a fact that the peoples of China’s Xinjiang region live happily in China’s development and prosperity,” state television paraphrased Erdogan as saying.

“Turkey does not permit any person to incite disharmony in the Turkey-China relationship. Turkey firmly opposes extremism and is willing to increase mutual political trust with China and strengthen security cooperation.”

Xi told Erdogan that the two countries should take practical steps to promote counter-terror cooperation, the report added.

China appreciates Erdogan’s numerous comments saying that he will not permit “any forces to carry out anti-China activities in Turkey and attaches great store on Turkey stressing many times its support of China fighting terrorism”, Xi added.

Hundreds have died in unrest in recent years in Xinjiang, blamed by Beijing on Islamist extremists and separatists.

Beijing says its de-radicalisation efforts in Xinjiang have brought unprecedented stability, pointing to a lack of violence in the past two years or so.