Beijing describes the complexes in Xinjiang as “vocational training centers” helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills. But China is worried about public criticism and has met with some foreign envoys ahead of the U.N. General Assembly in New York and a session of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, according to four Beijing-based diplomats.
“With Hong Kong as well, these are not topics China wants called attention to ahead of the 70th anniversary,” one of the diplomats said, referring to the massive military parade President Xi Jinping will oversee in Beijing on Oct. 1 marking seven decades of the People’s Republic of China.
Months of sometimes violent demonstrations show no sign of letting up in Hong Kong where protesters are angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy.
There was no indication, however, that tougher talk at the gathering would translate into concrete action on the issue against Beijing.
The senior U.S. administration official said Pompeo and Pence could also address China’s treatment of the Uighurs at events on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering, but a final decision on any U.S. remarks “is expected to hinge on how the trade issue is going.”
China and the United States are set to resume trade talks in October, but most analysts do not expect a durable trade deal, or even a significant de-escalation, any time soon.
In unusually blunt remarks, China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, told reporters last month – during his first week on the job – that while Beijing was willing to cooperate with other U.N. member states, China would never allow interference in the country’s “internal affairs, especially on issues related to Xinjiang, Tibet and to Hong Kong.”
Last week, China condemned a U.S. bill that calls on the U.S. government to exert more pressure on China over Xinjiang-related issues. The bill is a “flagrant interference in China’s internal affairs, and will only make the Chinese people more indignant,” the Foreign Ministry said.