China slams Australian think-tank claims of Xinjiang mosque destruction
SHANGHAI (CHINA) – Beijing’s foreign ministry dismissed claims made by an Australian think-tank that it had razed thousands of mosques in western Xinjiang region. It also said that there are over 24,000 mosques in the region, “more mosques per capita than many Muslim countries.”
On Thursday, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report which said that 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang have been bulldozed or damaged on the orders of the government since 2017.
The report was prepared based on satellite images and based on a sample of 900 religious sites prior to 2017. They include mosques, shrines and other holy sites.
“The Chinese government has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region… in order to render those indigenous cultural traditions subservient to the ‘Chinese nation’,” said the report.
“Alongside other coercive efforts to re-engineer Uighur social and cultural life by transforming or eliminating Uighurs’ language, music, homes and even diets, the Chinese Government’s policies are actively erasing and altering key elements of their tangible cultural heritage.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin termed the report “nothing but slanderous rumours” on Friday and accused the think-tank of receiving foreign funds to “support its concoction of lies against China.”
“If we look at the numbers, there are more than 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, which is over ten times more than in the US,” said Wang. “It means there is a mosque for every 530 Muslims in Xinjiang, which is more mosques per capita than many Muslim countries.”