Recently resurfaced drone footage from 2019 appears to show large groups of bound and shackled prisoners in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of northern China being herded onto train cars.
Approximately 11 million Uighur Muslims live in the Xinjiang region, where the Chinese government has been accused of committing genocide on a mass scale against the ethnic minority.
The footage of prisoners being herded onto train cars has been authenticated by Australian security services, according to the BBC, and potentially serves as more evidence of the Chinese regime’s alleged human rights abuses.
But when confronted with the footage by BBC host Andrew Marr on Sunday, Chinese ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming deflected questions and eventually dismissed the video’s authenticity.
“Can you tell us what is happening here?” Marr asked Xiaoming as the drone footage of the prisoners played.
“Have you been to Xinjiang yourself?” the ambassador asked. “Xinjiang is regarded as the most beautiful place in Xinjiang. There’s a Chinese saying: ‘You do not know how big China is …'”
Marr then cut off the ambassador, pressing him to answer the question.
“Ambassador, that is not beautiful coverage, however, is it?” Marr asked.
The ambassador continued to deflect until Marr yet again demanded a straight answer.
“Can I ask you why people are kneeling, blindfolded and shaven and being led to trains in modern China?” Marr said. “What is going on there?”
Again, Xiaoming would not provide a straight answer, and instead questioned the video’s authenticity.
“I do not know, where did you get this video clip?” Xiaoming asked.
“These have been going around the world, they’ve been authenticated by western intelligence agencies and by Australian experts who say these are Uighur people being pushed onto trains and taken off,” Marr said.
Xiaoming remained seemingly unconvinced. After questioning the credibility of western intelligence agencies, he claimed that the reports of a Uighur genocide are false because the Xinjiang population has “doubled in 40 years.”
But the ambassador’s claim of population growth was incredibly misleading.
“According to your own local government statistics, the population growth in Uighur jurisdictions in that area has fallen by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018,” Marr replied.
The supposed population growth in Xinjiang that the ambassador referred to has been inflated by Han Chinese residents moving into the region, according to a study conducted by Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on the Chinese Communist Party’s policies.
Uighur population growth has, in fact, declined precipitously.
“Between 2015 and 2018, about 860,000 ethnic Han residents left Xinjiang, while up to 2 million new residents were added to Xinjiang’s Han majority regions. Also, population growth rates in a Uyghur region where Han constitute the majority were nearly 8 times higher than in the surrounding rural Uyghur regions (in 2018). These figures raise concerns that Beijing is doubling down on a policy of Han settler colonialism,” the study says.
The study also provides evidence that China is committing genocide against the Uighur population through the use of sterilizations, forced abortions and mandatory birth control imposed on the ethnic minority.
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