BBC journalist Andrew Marr confronted the Chinese ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming, during a television interview Sunday over viral drone footage that appears to show the Communist government detaining hundreds of blindfolded and shaven prisoners kneeling in front of a train station in Xinjiang, China.
During the interview, Marr shows the Chinese ambassador the “disturbing drone footage” and pushes him for answers, but the ambassador deflects, saying he “cannot see,” and then later attempts to talk about how “beautiful” the region is.
XIAOMING: Let me tell you this: Xinjiang – have you been to Xinjiang yourself?
MARR: No, I never have.
XIAOMING: You know, Xinjiang is regarded as the most beautiful place in [unclear]…
MARR: Ambassador, that is not beautiful coverage, however, is it?
XIAOMING: You know, Xinjiang, that is exactly what I’m going to tell you. Since 1990, Xinjiang has completely changed because of the thousands of terrorist attacks. People cannot —
MARR: That was ten years ago. Can I ask you why people are kneeling, blindfolded and shaven, and being led to trains in modern China. What is going on there?
XIAOMING: I do not know where you get this video tape. Sometimes you have transfer of prisons and prisoners. You know, in any country –
MARR: But what is happening here, ambassador?
XIAOMING: I do not know where did you get this video clip —
MARR: These have been going around the world, they’ve been authenticated by western intelligence agencies and by Australian experts who say these are Uyghur people being pushed onto trains and taken off.
The footage, originally released late last year, has circulated widely online in light of increased information about China’s treatment of the Uyghur minority population, over a million of whom have reportedly been subjected to forced “re-education” or detention camps, and in some instances forced sterilization, according to The Associated Press.
The Chinese ambassador, once again, deflects – this time, by bashing western intelligence and claiming they have lobbied false accusations against China.
XIAOMING: Let me tell you, let me tell you this. The so-called western intelligence, keeping up make this false accusation against China. They say, ‘One million of Uyghur has been persecuted.’ You know how big, how many population Xinjiang has? It’s at just about – forty years ago it’s at 4-5 million, now it’s 11 million people. And people say, you know, we impose, we have an ethnic cleansing, but the population has doubled in the forty years.
MARR: I’m so sorry to interrupt, but according to your own local government statistics, the population growth in Uyghur jurisdictions in that area has fallen by 84% between 2015 and 2018. Eighty-four percent.
XIAOMING: That’s not right. I gave you official figures. You ask me, I gave you this figure as the Chinese ambassador. This is a very [inaudible] figure. In the past forty years, the Uyghur population increased – the population in Xinjiang increased – to double. The population doubled. So there’s no so-called restriction of the population, there’s no so-called forced abortion, and so on.
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 19, 2020
According to Axios, birth rates in Xinjiang “fell by 24% last year alone, compared to 4.2% nationwide.” In addition to the use of IUDs, pregnancy check-ups, and forced sterilizations, AP reports “population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.”