The Chinese Embassy has hosted a two-hour press conference in Canberra on Wednesday to paint a rosy picture of the situation in Xinjiang while issuing a warning against Australia joining the EU, UK, and the U.S. in sanctioning Chinese officials.
The press event comes after intense global scrutiny over the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in China’s western Xinjiang Province.
Media outlets were treated to a presentation entitled “Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land,” featuring testimonials from Uyghurs and Xinjiang officials promoting the region’s economic growth and religious harmony.
Xinjiang Vice-Governor Erkin Tuniyaz claimed foreigners with ulterior motives were turning a blind eye to the positives of the region and were spreading “rumours” about concentration camps, forced labour, religious conversion, and sterilisation of women.
“These allegations cannot be more preposterous, and they are downright lies,” he said. The video was also aired in London last month as part of a global propaganda push.
China’s Ambassador Cheng Jingye said the event was organised to “help” Australian journalists understand the situation in Xinjiangafter there had been “distorted coverage about Xinjiang in certain Western media,” he said.
“Those reports are basically based on disinformation or misinformation,” he added.
The Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association said the CCP must have been in a “state of desperation” to hold the event.
“The Australian community is already aware of the harsh realities of human rights abuses and genocide being committed,” according to a Facebook post.
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz called the video a “sickening display of propaganda,” saying there was ample evidence of human rights abuses in the province.
“From the inquiry by the Canadian House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, the horrific report from the BBC, and the recent and first independent expert application of the 1948 Genocide Convention, the truth of what is occurring in Xinjiang is slowly revealing itself,” he told The Epoch Times in an email.
The senator also pointed to the dropping birth rate in Xinjiang from 15.88 percent in 2017 to 8.14 percent in 2019 as evidence of forced sterilisation.
“Though the CCP tries to hide and obfuscate information from Xinjiang and the human rights abuses committed there, increasing evidence reveals the CCP’s intention to commit genocide against the Uyghur people,” he added.
Ambassador Cheng also warned Australia against adopting similar sanctions to those introduced by the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union against Chinese officials involved in human rights violations in the region.
“We will not provoke, but if we are provoked, we will respond in kind,” he said.
Ahead of the press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated the government would continue speaking out on human rights issues.
“We want a positive relationship, but we will have a positive relationship that is consistent with Australia acting in accordance with its values and its national character,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“That would never be something that we would yield for the sake of a relationship.”