BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged the United States on Thursday, 10 days after the Boston Marathon bombings, to condemn what Beijing has called terrorist attacks in its western Xinjiang region instead of lecturing the country on human rights.
Nine residents, six police and six ethnic Uighurs were killed on Tuesday in a knife, axe and arson attack, the deadliest violence in the region since July 2009, when Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, was rocked by clashes between majority Han Chinese and minority Uighurs that killed nearly 200 people.
Chinese authorities called the violence terrorism and Xinjiang spokeswoman Hou Hanmin was quoted on Thursday by the popular Chinese tabloid the Global Times as comparing it to the recent Boston Marathon bombings.
But the U.S. State Department on Wednesday merely expressed regret at the loss of life and urged China to “provide all Chinese citizens, including Uighurs, the due process protections to which they’re entitled”.
The U.S. refusal to condemn the attack showed double standards, considering that it had been the recent victim of a terrorist attack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
“We simply oppose the U.S. reversing black and white, confusing right and wrong, and continually refusing to condemn violent terrorist incidents, and instead, making wild accusations about Chinese policy toward ethnic minorities,” she said.
“We hope the U.S. will turn a mirror on itself and all its own domestic problems instead of pointing fingers at other countries.”
Many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people native to Xinjiang, chafe at Chinese controls on their religion, language and culture.
China has blamed previous attacks in the energy-rich region — strategically located on the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia — on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent East Turkestan.
Some Chinese officials also blame such attacks on Muslim militants trained in Pakistan. But many rights groups say China overstates the threat to justify its tight grip on the region.
Dilxat Raxit, the Sweden-based spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, has said the violence was sparked by the shooting and killing of a young Uighur by “Chinese armed personnel”, prompting Uighurs to retaliate.
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke was in Xinjiang with a delegation of American energy, rail and transportation executives when the attacks took place.
Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan, Writing by Michael Martina:; Editing by Nick Macfie