China has taken “appropriate measures” in dealing with the riots in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the country’s actions are “its exclusive internal affair,” according to a statement from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The announcement, posted Saturday on the ministry’s website, was issued to clarify Cambodia’s position and did not come about after any discussions with China or prompting from other nations, ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said.
“[T]he government of China is taking appropriate measures to address the problem and restore social order,” the brief statement read.
Other countries have condemned Beijing’s response to the unrest, which, Mr Kuong said, is their right.
The unrest began July 5 in western China when members of the ethnic Muslim Uighur minority rallied to demand an investigation into a brawl at a toy factory between Han Chinese and Uighurs that resulted in at least two Uighur deaths. The clash has been called some of the worst ethnic violence in China in years.
The Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying the protest was not a peaceful one but “an evil killing, fire setting and looting.” The news agency reported that 156 people died and more than 1,000 were injured in the riots.
Mr Kuong said the Cambodian government is following the situation in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang region, through various media outlets. He said on Sunday that he has not received any response from Chinese officials but added the ministry was not expecting any reply.
Second Secretary for the Chinese Embassy Qian Hai said his country “welcomed the statement’ but declined to answer any further questions about the situation in Xinjiang.
The Cambodian government took a similar stance with Burma in September 2007 when pro-democracy demonstrations provoked a military crackdown there. While the US, EU and Canada leveled economic sanctions against the Asean member, the Laotian and Cambodian governments said they would not support sanctions against the military junta and deemed the actions counter-productive.