UPDATE 2-China rejects genocide charge in Xinjiang, says door open to U.N.

(Recasts, adds speech by Turkish foreign minister in new 9thpara)

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Feb 22 (Reuters) – China on Monday rejected”slanderous attacks” about conditions for Muslim Uighurs livingin Xinjiang, as European powers and Turkey voiced concerns andcalled for U.N. access to the remote western region.Activists and U.N. rights experts have said that at least 1million Muslims are detained in camps in Xinjiang. China deniesabuses and says its camps provide vocational training and areneeded to fight extremism.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the U.N. Human Rights Councilthat it was taking counter-terrorism measures in accordance withthe law and that Xinjiang enjoyed “social stability and sounddevelopment” after four years without any “terrorist case”.

There were 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, where people of allethnic groups also enjoyed labour rights, he said.

“These basic facts show that there has never been so-calledgenocide, forced labour, or religious oppression in Xinjiang,”Wang said. “Such inflammatory accusations are fabricated out ofignorance and prejudice, they are simply malicious andpolitically driven hype and couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The Biden administration has endorsed a last-minutedetermination by the Trump administration that China hascommitted genocide in Xinjiang and has said the United Statesmust be prepared to impose costs on China.

Earlier, British foreign secretary Dominic Raab denouncedtorture, forced labour and sterilisations that he said weretaking place against Uighurs on an “industrial scale” inXinjiang.

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said that “thearbitrary detention of ethnic minorities like the Uighurs inXinjiang or China’s crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong”required attention.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said itexpected transparency from China on the issue and called forprotecting the rights of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.

Wang invited U.N. scrutiny but gave no timetable.

“The door to Xinjiang is always open. People from manycountries who have visited Xinjiang have learned the facts andthe truth on the ground. China also welcomes the HighCommissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang,” he said,referring to U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet, whose officehas been negotiating terms of access to the country.(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields; additionalreporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Editing by Giles Elgood)