China’s ‘re-education camps’ likely counterproductive: U.S. official

Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA)-China’s “re-education camps” for Muslims are more likely to create terrorists than to prevent a rise of Islamic extremism, Scott Busby, visiting United States deputy assistant secretary of state said Thursday in Taipei.

When asked to comment on Beijing’s campaign of assimilation targeting Uighurs and other Muslims, Busby told CNA that more people need to know about the “horrible things taking place in Xinjiang.”

“I do think educating citizens, all people in the world, about what is going on in China is absolutely critical,” said Busby, who serves at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

“I don’t think that everyone is aware of the horrible things taking place in Xinjiang Province, where there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in re-education camps,” he said.

Busby quoted U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley as saying that his government believes Beijing’s efforts in Xinjiang represent a “very serious abuse of human rights.”

“We think these actions are counterproductive to China’s efforts to address terrorism,” Busby said. “We think it will have the opposite effect, that these policies are more likely to create terrorist than they are to prevent them.”

International human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of holding people in political education centers in Xinjiang, amid Beijing’s statements that Xinjiang is facing a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists.

Last month, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged China to allow monitors into Xinjiang and she expressed concern about the situation there, but China responded by saying she should respect its sovereignty.

Busby is on his first visit to Taiwan to speak at an international workshop on defending democracy through media literacy, which is being held Thursday and Friday in Taipei.

During his visit, which last until Sunday, he will also meet with Taiwanese officials to learn more about how the U.S. can continue to partner effectively with Taiwan in advancing democratic values, he said in an interview Thursday.

Commenting on the fight against disinformation, Busby said it is not up to governments to make decisions about what information should be put into the public domain or withheld.

“Generally, we think that information should be in the public domain but the citizens should be more educated and we need more tools to help citizens determine whether that information is true or not,” he said.