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China slams Belgium over bill on Xinjiang, sanctions lawmaker

A man dances in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, as he celebrates Eid al-Fitr on May 13, 2021. (ADILJAN ABDUKADER / XINHUA)

China has criticized Belgian lawmakers for passing a motion aimed at spreading lies and misinformation about China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Federal Chamber of Representatives passed a proposal on Tuesday recognizing what it called "crimes against humanity" and a "serious risk of genocide" being conducted against the Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday that the relevant lawmaker maliciously spread lies and misinformation and gravely undermined China's sovereignty and interests, and China has already decided to sanction him.

We urge anti-China politicians with ulterior motives on the Belgian side to respect fact, stop seeking political manipulation by taking advantage of Xinjiang-related issues and interfering in China's domestic affairs in the name of human rights, and avoid damaging the overall interest of China-Belgium relations.

Zhao Lijian, Spokesman, Chinese foreign ministry

Zhao was referring to Belgian lawmaker Samuel Cogolati, who first proposed the motion in the Belgian parliament in February. He was among a number of European lawmakers and entities sanctioned by China in March in response to EU's sanctions of Chinese officials in Xinjiang.

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"The allegations of 'genocide' in Xinjiang is a total rumor and lie fabricated by people with ulterior motives. The real intention is to disrupt Xinjiang's social stability and contain China's development," Zhao said in response to a question raised by the French news agency AFP.

He said China is firmly resolved to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and uphold development, stability and ethnic unity in Xinjiang.

"We urge anti-China politicians with ulterior motives on the Belgian side to respect fact, stop seeking political manipulation by taking advantage of Xinjiang-related issues and interfering in China's domestic affairs in the name of human rights, and avoid damaging the overall interest of China-Belgium relations," Zhao said.

The Chinese embassy in Belgium issued a statement on Wednesday, accusing Belgian lawmakers of disregarding China's stern position by passing the bill.

An embassy spokesperson said the slander that Xinjiang has "serious risks of genocide" and "mass violations of human rights that may constitute crimes against humanity" is pure nonsense.

READ MORE: Western lies about Xinjiang are doomed to infamy

Over the past 60 years, Xinjiang's economic volume has increased by more than 200 times, its per capita GDP jumped by nearly 40 times and its average life expectancy has been raised from 30 to 72 years.

"The Uygur population has continued to grow, and people of all ethnic groups are living better lives. Where does the 'risk of genocide' come from?" the spokesperson said.

It said that the so-called evidence that slanders China's Xinjiang policy has been nothing more than some fake reports by a handful of anti-China scholars, fake news from some Western media outlets, and fake stories made up by several lying witnesses.

The spokesperson emphasized that the Xinjiang-related matters are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but rather anti-violence, anti-separatism and de-radicalization.

Xinjiang affairs are China's internal affairs, and external forces' attempts to contain China's development through Xinjiang-related matters will never succeed, according to the statement.

"We strongly urge the Belgian Federal Chamber of Representatives and individual politicians to respect the facts, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and stop seeking political profits through Xinjiang-related matters," the embassy spokesperson said.