BEIJING (AP) — Beijing expressed displeasure with Turkey on Friday for accepting 173 ethnic Uighurs who fled China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Uighurs had left China illegally, and that Beijing opposes “any actions that aid and abet, or even support illegal migration.”
“We believe that the international community should share common responsibility for combating and preventing illegal migration,” she told a regular news briefing.
The group of Uighurs, mostly women and children, arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday and are being settled in the central city of Kayseri, which has a strong Uighur community.
Turkey has ethnic and linguistic ties to the Uighurs, members of a Muslim ethnic minority in China’s far west Xinjiang region. The group has complained of cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.
Relations between China and Turkey have been strained over Turkish media reports that Uighurs were banned from worshipping and fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Beijing is also waging a war against terrorism in Xinjiang, where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead over the past two years. It has blamed religious extremism for the violence.
The 173 people were among about 250 Uighurs who were held in Thai camps after fleeing China. Seyit Tumturk, deputy head of the World Uyghur Congress, has said he hoped the remaining refugees would also be allowed to leave Thailand.
This story corrects the number of Uighurs to 173 instead of 174.
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