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Nearly 40 countries, mainly Western countries, have condemned China’s behavior towards the  minority groups, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet, and expressed grave concern at the effect of its new national security law on human rights in Hong Kong.

Washington: Japan, The United States, many European countries, and others called on China to permit them the “unfettered access” to Xinjiang for independent observers, including UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, and urgently cease from detaining Uighurs and the members of other minorities.

The 39 countries also pressed China in a joint statement read at a meeting of the General Assembly’s human rights committee, “to uphold the autonomy, freedoms, and rights in Hong Kong, and to recognize the independence of the Hong Kong judiciary.”

Their statement, which was read by German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, was immediately followed by a report from Pakistan on behalf of other 55 countries opposed to interference in China’s affairs when it comes to Hong Kong. It said that the territory is a part of China, and the national security law ensures that China’s “one country, two systems” policy on Hong Kong is long-lasting.

 Cuba then followed with a statement on behalf of 45 countries supporting China’s counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang. It said actions taken by China in response to terrorism and extremism threats were carried out within the law to safeguard all ethnic groups’ human rights in the province.

Syria, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba also signed the Pakistani and Cuban statements.

On Tuesday, the 39 nations expressed serious concern “about the existence of the large network of ‘political reeducation’ camps where some reliable reports indicate that more than a million people have been forcefully detained” in Xinjiang, and increasing reports of “gross human rights violations.”

Germany’s Heusgen said 23 countries backed last year’s statement only on the Uighurs while this year’s broader view, including Hong Kong, has 39 supporters.

“This is a sign that concerns about the Chinese scheme toward the Uighur minority in China is rising, and there is worldwide concern,” Heusgen told reporters.

He also sends a signal that China should stop tearing down mosques and stop forced labor and forced birth control.

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