Washington briefing: Erdogan sees “nearly genocide” in China

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Monday July 20, 2009

President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan visits Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Jan. 2008. AP Photo

Washington - Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan characterized recent clashes in China's northwestern Xiniang province as "nearly genocide," news agencies reported. 

The apparently ethnically motivated clashes between Han Chinese and Turkic Uighurs there last week left at least 156 people dead.

Mr. Erdogan's choice of words at the July 10 press conference contrasted with his repeated denials that deaths of more than a million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey could constitute genocide. The comments came as Turkish nationalists held daily anti-China protests.

The Turkish leader also promised to raise concerns over what many Turks see as Chinese oppression of Uighurs at the United Nation Security Council, where Turkey is currently a member.

The comments have elicited criticism by Chinese officials.

People's Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, charged Mr. Erdogan with "twisting facts" and making an "irresponsible and groundless accusation."

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying that the government was "following up on the reactions" from Turkey.

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