China Counters Uighur Criticism with Explicit Attacks on Women Who Made Claims of Abuse

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin holds pictures while speaking during a news conference in Beijing, China, on February 23. — Reuters

CHINA, under growing global pressure over its treatment of a Muslim minority in its far west, is mounting an unprecedented and aggressive campaign to push back, including explicit attacks on women who have made claims of abuse.

As allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang mount, with a growing number of western lawmakers accusing China of genocide, Beijing is focusing on discrediting the female Uighur witnesses behind recent reports of abuse.

Chinese officials have named women, disclosed what they say is private medical data and information on the women’s fertility, and accused some of having affairs and one of having a sexually transmitted disease. The officials said the information was evidence of bad character, invalidating the women’s accounts of abuse in Xinjiang.

“To rebuke some media’s disgusting acts, we have taken a series of measures,” Xu Guixiang, the deputy head of Xinjiang’s publicity department, told a December news conference that was part of China’s pushback campaign. It included hours-long briefings, with footage of Xinjiang residents and family members reading monologues.

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