G8 urged to address China's rights record

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s human rights record should be properly addressed at this week’s meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations in Germany, an exile group said on Tuesday.

The group, the World Uyghur Congress, represents Muslim ethnic Uighurs from China’s far western Xinjiang region. China calls Uighur militants terrorists and blames them for a string of bombings and assassinations in the 1990s.

The head of the congress is dissident Rebiya Kadeer, who was banished to the United States in 2005 after spending five years in jail for providing state secrets to foreigners.

“The World Uyghur Congress hopes that along with other critical issues on the agenda of the G8 summit, human rights issues will also be the focus of discussion on cooperation with emerging economies, in particular with China,” the German-based group said in a statement.

“China’s presence at the G8 summit will give other leading industrialized nations another chance to press the emerging giant for a clear commitment on resolving the egregious human rights crisis in Darfur abroad and on the improvement of the human rights situation at home,” it added.

China’s increasing presence as a lender to Africa has troubled some G8 ministers, who are worried Beijing is too willing to lend money without strings to countries where they have just written off billions of dollars of unpaid debts.

China has also received international censure for its support of Sudan, where the United Nations estimates that fighting by government-linked militias and rebel groups in Darfur has killed 200,000 people and forced 2 million more to flee.