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China announces support from Gulf states for Uighur treatment

BEIJING (AP) – China said on Friday that it had received support for issues including the treatment of Uighur Muslims from a number of states in the Persian Gulf following talks between their foreign ministers in which they agreed to upgrade relations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the ministers and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf expressed firm support for China’s “legitimate views on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang and human rights.”

He said they “expressed opposition to interfering in China’s internal affairs and politicizing human rights issues.” They also rejected “the politicization of the sport and confirmed their support” for China’s host of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which opens on February 4, he said.

China is accused of detaining more than a million Turkish Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region as part of a campaign to eradicate their traditional culture, language and beliefs. It claims that Taiwan is an idiosyncratic province that should be brought under its control by force if necessary.

China and the GCC, meanwhile, agreed to establish a strategic partnership, conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement “as soon as possible”, hold a strategic dialogue between China and the GCC and sign an action plan for 2022-2025 to “increase bilateral relations with a new level, ”said Wang.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed China’s “firm support for the GCC countries to preserve their national independence, security and stability, and will continue to oppose foreign interference in the GCC countries’ internal affairs in the name of human rights,” Wang said.

China also promised to support the GCC countries in establishing a multilateral dialogue to explore “the Middle East’s way of resolving conflicts and disputes in the region, and advocated that non-regional countries play a constructive role to this end,” he said. .

The visit came as world powers, including China, sought to revive the 2015 tainted Iran nuclear deal in Vienna.

Other participants in the meetings included the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was also due to be in China by the end of this week. It was not immediately clear whether he attended the meetings with the others, and Wang did not mention him in his comments.

China and the United States are increasingly hunting for influence in the Middle East, where Chinese companies have found markets for goods and services ranging from highways to military drones. China’s economy is heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil and gas, and Beijing has also maintained close ties with Iran amid its nuclear ambitions and strife with other Gulf nations.

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