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Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Wraps China Visit, Supports Chinese Policies In Xinjiang

The United Nations has noted that Chinese actions in Xinjiang directed at its Uighur Muslims likely amount to 'crimes against humanity'.

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Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas
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Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas concluded his four-day visit to China on Friday and supported the Chinese policies in Xinjiang province. 

The Xinjiang province is home to the ethnic minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang who are subjected to systemic harassment and internment by the Chinese government. The United Nations (UN) has noted that the Chinese actions in Xinjiang with regard to Uighurs and other Muslim minorities likely amount to "crimes against humanity".

Despite being a leader of a Muslim-majority territory, Abbas rubbished the Uighur issue and said Chinese policies were about "excising extremism and opposing terrorism and separatism". This echoes the Chinese line and ignores the evidence presented by media, scholars, and the UN over the years. 

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Abbas, however, is not alone in his acceptance of the Chinese line. The Associated Press (AP) notes that "Arab states have almost never openly expressed concern over Beijing's treatment of Muslims".

What did PA chief Mahmoud Abbas say?

The Palestinian Authority (PA) in a statement said that the Chinese policy toward Muslims in Xinjiang have "nothing to do with human rights and are aimed at excising extremism and opposing terrorism and separatism", according to AP.

The PA runs the Palestinian territory of West Bank. The other Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip is run by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.  

"Palestine resolutely opposes using the Xinjiang problem as a way of interfering in China's internal affairs," AP quoted the joint statement as saying.

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In the statement, the PA also said that the Chinese policy in Xinjiang have "nothing to do with human rights and are aimed at excising extremism and opposing terrorism and separatism". 

What is China doing in Xinjiang to Uighur Muslims?

It has been reported that China runs internment camps in Xinjiang where 8-30 lakh (0.8 million-3 million) Uighur Muslims have been detained over the years.

These camps, called re-education camps, are run to replace Uighur Muslims' ethnic, religious, or cultural identity with the Chinese national identity which is associated with the majority Han Chinese people. Vox notes that it is the "largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority group since World War II", when Jews were held in concentration camps and tortured and killed in Nazi Germany.

"That echoes [PA's statement] Chinese propaganda surrounding the detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in prison-like detention centers on little or no legal grounds — often merely for having a relative studying abroad or downloading the Koran onto their phones," note AP.

The UN report found that the allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible along with allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence. 

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