BEIJING, Nov 13 (Reuters) - China slammed the European Union on Friday, just weeks before the two sides hold a summit, for criticising the execution of nine people convicted of violent crimes during ethnic riots in Xinjiang.
Almost 200 people died in the rioting between Uighurs and Han Chinese, the worst ethnic violence in decades in the Chinese-controlled far western majority Muslim region.
The European Union, in a statement issued by Sweden which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, condemned the executions and called on China to abolish the death penalty.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the European Union was interfering in China’s internal affairs.
"We are extremely dissatisfied," Qin said in a statement carried on the ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn).
China was a country ruled by laws, carried out the trials properly, and no outsider had a right to get involved, he said.
China "demands the European side stop making the same mistakes again and again, earnestly respect the principles of equality and mutual respect, and do more to benefit the healthy and stable development of China-EU relations," Qin said.
In July’s ethnic violence, Uighurs attacked majority Han Chinese in regional capital Urumqi after taking to the streets to protest against attacks on Uighur workers at a factory in southern China in June that left two Uighurs dead.
Han Chinese in Urumqi sought revenge two days later.
The violence left 197 people, mostly Han Chinese, dead and wounded more than 1,600, according to official figures.
The European Union’s Swedish presidency, in a statement on its website (www.se2009.eu), said it was concerned about the way the trials were carried out.
"The EU calls on China to review urgently the cases of those who remain under sentence of death for their alleged involvement in this year’s unrest and for their sentences to be commuted," it said.
China and the European Union are scheduled to hold a summit in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing at the end of the month. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)