China FM Spokesperson: Disinformation about Xinjiang Has No Factual Basis and
Will Collapse One Day Like a Sandcastle
At a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on 23 February, Spokesperson Wang Wenbin answered questions of some journalists on false accusations and disinformation about Xinjiang by some countries.
Journalist: During an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the rights record of China, and said the United Nations must be given urgent and unfettered access to Xinjiang to investigate reports of abuses in the region. What's the ministry's comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: As we've said many times before, the accusations of the so-called "forced labor" and "forced sterilization" are rumors and lies fabricated by anti-China forces. Such disinformation has no factual basis and will collapse one day like a sandcastle.
Xinjiang-related issues are China's domestic affairs. I have elaborated on this in my response to the Canadian journalist. We urge the UK to respect fact, stop making wrongful remarks and stop interfering in China's domestic affairs.
I would also like to point out that for quite some time, we have heard and seen too many lies on Xinjiang-related issues to slander and smear China. Not long ago, I told you the truth of a Uyghur woman named Zumrat Dawut, who claimed she was forced to undergo "forced sterilization" in an interview with BBC. Today, I'd like to share another example of lies on Xinjiang.
This example is about a Uyghur woman named Tursunay Ziyawudun. In early February, in her interview with BBC, Tursunay Ziyawudun claimed that there were "systemic sexual abuses" in vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang, making a piece of sensational fake news. But the truth is, just like Zumrat Dawut, Tursunay Ziyawudun is an "actress" for certain elements to slander and smear China. She said in the interview, "The police knocked me on the floor and kicked me in the abdomen. I almost passed out." However, a year ago, in an interview with Buzzfeed, she said: "I wasn't beaten or abused." US media pointed out that before arriving in the United States, she had multiple interviews with foreign media outlets and institutions. However, she did not once mention the so-called "sexual abuse" in vocational education and training center in Xinjiang, or that she is a victim of such abuses. What is strange is that, several months after arriving in the United States, Tursunay Ziyawudun changed her narrative after being trained by certain forces. She recently had another interview with CNN where she said she had a contraceptive IUD implant. The fact is, her family members all know that she is infertile. She has never had any contraceptive operation in Xinjiang.
Tursunay's lies are not even clever ones. They can be revealed by anyone. Regrettably, however, some media agencies, including famed international media outlets like BBC, grabbed such fake news and broadcast without any verification. They themselves became tools of Xinjiang-related rumor-mongering. BBC also blamed China's "tight restriction" on journalists for the lack of verification. But the facts are there for all to see. As a nearly century-old media outlet, why didn't BBC do some fact-checking? What hindered it was its intention, not incompetence.
We have seen too many rumors and fabrications produced by BBC on Xinjiang and China, too many that I cannot present them all here. We hope all people can oppose lies and slanders against other countries, and avoid being fooled by lies and becoming carriers of disinformation like BBC.
Journalist: Just to follow up on what you just said, we have seen over the years that China has on many occasions, sent teams and task forces to investigate allegations of child labor, food safety and other issues of public concern here in China. Can you tell me what task forces have been launched to investigate the allegations of "systemic sexual abuses" in Xinjiang, not merely individual cases like you just referred to?
Wang Wenbin: I haven't heard about any of the teams and task forces that you mentioned. On Xinjiang-related issues, including some other issues involving China's internal affairs, there are a lot of slanders against China. In fact, the truth is often not that difficult to clarify. We hope that clear-eyed people, especially our friends from the media, can fulfill their due responsibility and stick to professional ethics. Before truth is verified, don't jump to conclusions from one-sided stories, still less allowing themselves to be used as tools for spreading lies and rumors.
Journalist: I wanted to ask a follow-up on the Xinjiang information that you just shared. You mentioned that a woman in particular had spoken about her experiences outside of China, but had not taken the opportunity to speak about those same experiences when she was inside China. Do you believe that women in Xinjiang are able to speak freely about their experiences here with impunity? If a woman or anyone faces issues in Xinjiang's vocational centers, are there adequate avenues for them to report such issues within China?
Wang Wenbin: Of course women in Xinjiang can discuss what they experienced and thought without concerns. If you attended the four press briefings held in MFA by the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, you would have found that the speakers included female, former trainees of the vocational education and training centers.
You may have misunderstood one thing I said. Tursunay exited China from Xinjiang as early as September 2019. Before arriving in the United States, she took multiple interviews from foreign media and institutions, and not even once did she mention anything about her alleged experience of "sexual abuses" in Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers. Such a claim was put forward after she was "trained" in the United States. I think this sheds some light on how the lies about Xinjiang were made, as well as their intentions and backgrounds.
Journalist: A follow-up on your earlier response to a question on Xinjiang. If I understand correctly, the main reason you talked about is that woman didn't mention being subject to sexual abuses in her interviews with foreign press. But it's universally believed that it may take some time for a victim of such assaults to speak up and tell people about her experience due to various concerns.
Wang Wenbin: From what I talked about, I believe you all know Tursunay said many things that are inconsistent with the truth. The fact is, she made many lies and rumors. Considering her character, should we just believe her words are true when she accuses the vocational education and training centers of having systemic sexual abuses against women? Why didn't BBC even do some fact-checking before broadcasting it? Doesn't this tell us something?
There have been various smears against China's Xinjiang. We hope all people can oppose smear-mongering and verify the information in a cool-headed and objective manner, instead of being deceived by rumors and lies or becoming part of the rumor-mongering process.
Journalist: Just a follow-up on your last response to my question. If I understood you correctly, you said you're not aware of any task forces to examine allegations of systemic abuse in Xinjiang. Without such an effort, how can the Chinese government assure us that no such abuses are taking place? And a related question, the foreign ministry here in China recently pointed out that 150,000 indigenous children were placed in Canada's residential school system. Since 2017, what is the exact number of people who have been placed in what China calls vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang?
Wang Wenbin: First I'd like to tell you that the Chinese side, including the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, has clarified the truth and refuted lies about "systemic sexual abuses" in Xinjiang's vocational education and training centers. I also talked about how these people created falsehoods.
After China has made clarification and presented the truth, fair-minded media outlets should at least avoid being biased or spreading lies and rumors about Xinjiang. This is what journalism requires.
As for your question on the trainees in Xinjiang, I'd like to say that they already graduated and now live a normal life in society.