Uyghurs in Xinjiang were forced to become Muslim and have been an integral part of China for thousands of years, Beijing said in a new report, in an attempt to justify its controversial crackdown against the ethnic minority in the far-western region.
- China has sought to justify treatment of Uyghurs that Western countries have condemned as “cultural genocide”
- Beijing’s report hits back at “double standards” of critics and defends “anti-terrorism” efforts
- Experts say the white paper is a classic case of China’s ongoing information warfare
A white paper released on Sunday by China’s State Council Information Office — the Government’s propaganda arm — presents the ruling Communist Party’s interpretation of history, claiming “Islam is neither an indigenous nor the sole belief system of the Uyghur people”.
The report also said that Islam spread into Xinjiang by “the Arab Empire” and that the Turkic Uyghur people “endured slavery” at the hands of “the Turks”.
“Conversion to Islam was not a voluntary choice made by the common people, but a result of religious wars and imposition by the ruling class,” it said, declaring that the Government nevertheless respects “the Muslims’ right to their beliefs”.