Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has disregarded global outcry over China’s mistreatment of its Muslim minority population, saying the country is exercising its sovereign right.
By Mohammed Amine Benabou
Rabat—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MbS, has condoned China’s use of the re-education camps.
MBS, who arrived in Beijing on Friday, February 23, met with Chinese authorities, including Vice Premier Han Zheng , to sign a number of bilateral agreements on energy cooperation.
Later speaking to a Chinese television channel, MBS appeared to dismiss the ongoing global condemnation of China’s ill treatment of close to 2 million of its Muslim population in the autonomous Xinjiang region.
Beijing has recently doubled its crackdown on Uighur Muslims, arresting and detaining them in what the Chinese regime calls “re-education camps.” The goal is reportedly to make them less Muslim and more Chinese.
International observers have however decried the measure, denouncing “religious discrimination” and referring to the confinement centers as “concentration camps.”
During his Beijing trip, however, MBS sniffed at the global outcry and sided with China’s dismissal of international condemnation over its re-education camps policy.
MBS appeared to liken Uighurs to potential terrorists, arguing that Beijing has the right to take necessary measures to curb radicalization and extremism.
“China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremization work for its national security,” MBS was quoted as saying on Chinese television.
Prioritizing political interests
Prior to MBS’ visit, it was reported that the Uighur community hoped that, in his capacity as Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader and guardian of Islam’s holiest sites, MBS would bring up the Uighur predicament to his Chinese hosts.
Instead, the Saudi prince chose to be on China’s side, turning a blind eye to the plight of Uighurs.
“We respect and support China’s right to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security…. We stand ready to strengthen cooperation with China,” MBS maintained, according to local chinese news outlet Xinhua.
On social media, some users slammed MBS’ defense of China’s crackdown on Uighurs. They said that the increasingly isolated Saudi prince is choosing economic interests and potential partners over the defense of fellow Muslims.
In his visit, crown prince signed twelve agreements and memorandums of understanding in a variety of fields, which include petroleum, the chemical industry, investment, renewable energy and counter-terrorism.
Physical and psychological torture in detention camps
In its alleged counter-terrorism campaign, China has so far detained roughly one million ethnic Uighur Muslims.
The Uighurs (or Uyghurs) are a Turkic Muslim community and are the dominant ethnic minority group mostly living in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwestern China.
While China has traditionally mistreated minorities, the crackdown on Uighurs especially intensified last summer, reportedly coinciding with Beijing’s agenda to reinforce the country’s communist identity
As China’s anti-Islam campaign reached its peak last summer, an article in the Atlantic said that Beijing was “treating Islam like a mental illness.”
“One million Muslims are being held right now in Chinese internment camps,” the article pointed out. It cited reports of “inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol” as well as evidence of violence and torture in the so-called reeducation camps.
Most recently, Turkey has also criticized China’s anti-terrorism approach on Uighurs, describing the internment camps as “a great cause of shame for humanity.”
“It is no longer a secret that more than one million Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing in internment camps and prisons,” Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
He added that “Uighurs who are not detained in these camps are under heavy pressure.”