China rebuked at UN for persecution of Uighur Muslims
China came under fire at the United Nations on Tuesday for its mass detention of ethnic Uighur Muslims, with 23 nations backing a UK statement condemning Beijing's human rights record.
The UK's UN statement expressed concerns "regarding credible reports of mass detention; efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices; mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs; and other human rights violations and abuses".
"The Chinese government should urgently... (refrain) from the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities," it said.
Countries backing it included the United States, Germany, France, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
But China's allies countered with a statement of their own that won even broader support, with some 54 nations backing a Belarus text that heaped effusive praise on Beijing's "remarkable achievements in the field of human rights".
They included Pakistan, Russia, Egypt, Bolivia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Serbia - which have all been criticised for their own rights records.
Read more: Why Muslim countries are turning their back on China's repressed Uighurs
China is currently building a massive industrial park in Belarus.
The duelling statements at the UN General Assembly are non-binding, but highlight the global divide on China's human rights record - particularly as Beijing moves to flex its diplomatic and economic clout abroad.
Rights groups say more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in internment camps in Xinjiang.
After initially denying their existence, Beijing now defends the camps as "vocational education centres" that are necessary to counter religious extremism and terrorism.
China has embarked on a global public relations campaign to win support for its Xinjiang policies - even convincing Muslim-majority nations such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to voice support.
Beijing on Wednesday blasted the British statement on its human rights record, saying that the "anti-China performance by a small number of Western countries ended in humiliating failure."
"China's actions in Xinjiang have effectively safeguarded the basic human rights of all ethnic groups and protected the security and stability of the region," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.
Geng urged the UK and the US in particular to "stop using human rights as an excuse to meddle in other countries' internal affairs."
Agencies contributed to this report.