Norway has joined some international criticism of China, after reports of how Chinese authorities have rounded up as many as 1 million ethnic minorities and forced them into internment camps in Xinjiang.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported during the weekend how Norway’s ambassador in Beijing is among 15 stationed in the Chinese capital who have sent a letter to Chinese authorities. In it, they request a meeting to clarify what’s happening in the remote region that’s home to many persecuted Uyghurs.
The ambassadors express their concern over reports about how ethnic minorities have been treated. Chinese authorities responded angrily to the letter, accusing the ambassadors of trying to exert pressure.
Norway’s foreign ministry declined comment on the letter, but a spokesman said Norway has made it clear that “the situation for Muslim minorities in Xinjiang” has sparked concern. Any measures taken to prevent radicalization or fight terrorisn “must be made in line with human rights,” said spokesman Frode O Andersen.
Norwegian officials have earlier been reluctant to criticize alleged human rights abuses in China as harshly as they otherwise would, for fear of setting off another diplomatic freeze with authoritarian Chinese who often have difficulty accepting any criticism. Relations between Norway and China froze in late 2010, after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Relations weren’t restored until late 2016.