China and UAE Align on Palestine Support and Crackdown on Uyghurs

Uyghur Times, June 2, 2024

In a move raising concerns for Uyghur rights, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a joint statement during a state visit by UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. While the statement emphasizes a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and cooperation on combating terrorism, it also includes language seen as endorsing China’s policies in Uyghurland, so-called “Xinjiang.”

The statement avoids mentioning the term “Uyghur” altogether. However, it highlights the UAE’s support for China’s “position on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a formulation widely understood to encompass “Xinjiang”. More worryingly, the UAE “appreciates China’s efforts to care for Chinese Muslim citizens, including those in Xinjiang” and expresses support for China’s “preventive measures taken…to combat violent terrorism and extremism.” “The UAE appreciates China’s efforts to care for Chinese Muslim citizens, including those in “Xinjiang.” The UAE supports China’s national unity, stability and security, supports all preventive measures taken by China to combat violent terrorism and extremism to maintain domestic stability, and opposes all forms of extremism, terrorism and acts that undermine national unity.”

Uyghur rights groups and International community have long condemned China’s policies against Uyghur people, which include mass incarceration, forced labor, and cultural suppression. The Chinese government maintains these measures are necessary to counter terrorism and extremism.

The statement’s language appears to endorse this narrative, despite the lack of evidence of widespread terrorism in the region. Notably, the statement itself condemns “all forms of terrorism” but cautions against linking it to “a specific ethnic group or religion.” This phrasing seems aimed at deflecting criticism of China’s targeting of Uyghurs. “The two sides firmly oppose all forms and manifestations of terrorism and must not link this public hazard to any particular ethnic group or religion. They stressed their willingness to cooperate with the international community to strengthen communication and coordination on combating terrorism and extremism and promoting moderate and tolerant values, so as to ensure a prosperous future without terrorism and extremism, which will contribute to the realization of a bright future for all mankind.”

The Uyghur Times reached out to the UAE government for clarification on its position regarding the situation in Uyghu homeland. No response has been received at the time of publication.

The UAE’s backing of China’s stance on Taiwan has been seen as emboldening China’s military threats towards the island.

“The UAE side emphasized that it will continue to firmly adhere to the one-China principle, that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and that it supports China’s position on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity, supports the realization of China’s reunification, and opposes external forces’ interference in China’s internal affairs.”, said the statement.

The joint statement highlights a potential new front in the ongoing struggle for Uyghur rights. As China seeks international support for its policies, the silence or acquiescence of Muslim-majority countries like the UAE raises concerns for the future of Uyghurs.


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