Uighurs want to meet Chinese ambassador

Uighur associations issued a meeting request after Cheng Jingye called journalists to his residency.
Uighur associations issued a meeting request after Cheng Jingye called journalists to his residency.

Australian Uighurs are calling for the Chinese ambassador to meet them to help make contact with loved ones missing in Xinjiang.

Several Uighur associations issued the joint request after China's ambassador to Australia called local journalists to his residency in Canberra.

There are several thousand Uighur people living in Australia and many of them have family living in China.

"So many of us living in Australia have lost contact with our loved ones and have no idea where they are," Australian Uighur Association secretary Bahtiyar Bora said.

"We are asking Mr Cheng to sit down with us to hear our stories and answer our questions."

Australia has condemned restrictions on the freedom of religion, mass surveillance, extra-judicial detentions, forced labour and sterilisation in Xinjiang but stopped short of imposing sanctions.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia did not have the same regimes as countries like the United States and the EU, which have introduced sanctions on Chinese individuals and entities.

"But we have been very consistent and very clear in raising our concerns, and in using the mechanisms available to us through the United Nations and other bodies to address these matters," she told Sky News.

Senator Payne said Australia was pushing for the UN's human rights commissioner and her team to visit Xinjiang so they could see first hand if China's claims about the region were true.

The Morrison government has also not followed the US in calling events in Xinjiang genocide.

China's ambassador to Australia denied human rights abuses in Xinjiang in a presentation to local media on Wednesday.

Ambassador Cheng Jingye said it was "fake news" made up by anti-China forces.

The presentation "Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land" was also shown in London last month as Chinese missions step up a propaganda offensive to counter the country's damaging human rights record.

Through a translator, Xinjiang Vice-Governor Erkin Tuniyaz said people with ulterior motives in foreign countries were turning a blind eye to people living good lives without the threat of terrorism.

"If yesterday's media conference was not a propaganda exercise then surely the ambassador would welcome an open dialogue," Uighur leader Ramila Chanisheff said.

Australian Associated Press