China Wades into Furore Over Controversial Remarks Against Prophet; Hopes Incident Can Be Properly Handled

China on Monday waded into the furore over the controversial remarks by two now-suspended BJP functionaries against Prophet Mohammad, expressing the hope that the incident can be properly handled. China, which faces serious allegations of a mass crackdown on Uygur Muslims in the volatile Xinjiang province, said: China always believes that different civilisations and religions should respect each other and live together as equals.

We have noted relevant reports and hope that the situation will be handled properly, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing responding to a question from the official Chinese media here on the protests triggered by the comments made by the BJP leaders. It is always important to discard pride and prejudice, better understand the differences between one’s own civilisation and other civilisations, and promote exchanges, dialogue and harmonious coexistence between civilisations, he said.

Wang’s updated comments were posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website. Significantly, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman’s comments came a day after Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to China.

Gen. Bajwa held talks with Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) General Zhang Youxia at the Qingdao city on Sunday, according to official media reports here. The BJP on June 5 suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their controversial remarks against the Prophet.

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Amid protests by Muslim groups over the remarks, the party also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality. The Ministry of External Affairs has said that India accords the highest respect to all religions.

The offensive tweets and comments denigrating a religious personality were made by certain individuals. They do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. Strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies, the MEA Spokesperson said last week. China downplays Western allegations of massive human rights violations against Uygur Muslims and their mass incarcerations in the volatile Xinjiang province.

Last month, UN Human Rights Council chief Michelle Bachelet visited China after a long drawn-out negotiation process with Beijing to probe the allegations of the internment of over a million Uygur Muslims of different ages as part of its crackdown on Islamic militants. At the end of her visit to Xinjiang on May 28, Bachelet said: I have raised questions and concerns about the application of counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation measures and their broad application, particularly their impact on the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.

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The UN earlier said it has identified patterns of arbitrary detention, coerced labour and broader infringements on civil liberties in Xinjiang.

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