China has warned Australia that it will “respond in kind” if Canberra sanctions Beijing over human rights violations against the ethnic minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, local media reported.
In a rare press conference, Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye said China will not “swallow the bitter pill of interfering or meddling in China’s internal affairs”.
Ambassador Cheng was joined by government officials beamed in via Zoom from Xinjiang for a two-hour media conference in Canberra, dismissing allegations of human rights abuses as “fake news” and “lies”.
The media event featured heavily-produced propaganda-style videos about how life could look in the autonomous region of north-western China.
The presentation on Xinjiang has been labeled as “preposterous propaganda” by members of the Uyghur community in Australia.
Ties between Australia and China are at an all-time low. Canberra has been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for several months, which has seen China slapping sanctions on various Australian products.
This warning comes weeks after United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada imposed sanctions on officials responsible for human rights violations in Xinjiang. China is coming under tremendous international pressure over the Uyghur issues.
Australia is not the only country China has threatened. Early this week, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had a telephonic talk with Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi and warned Japan against imposing sanctions on China over human rights violations in Xinjiang province and Hong Kong.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities, and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.