China defends Thailand's repatriation of illegal immigrants

Updated: 2015-07-13 14:25


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China defends Thailand's repatriation of illegal immigrants

A screen grab from state broadcaster CCTV shows that illegal immigrants were repatriated from Thailand to China on Thursday.

China said on Friday that Thailand's repatriation of over 100 Uygurs to China is normal cooperation between countries as well as an international obligation, adding that China will not accept politicization of the issue by foreign forces.

Thailand on Thursday repatriated a total of 109 illegal immigrants to China, who had been on their way to Turkey, Syria or Iraq to join jihad, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said Saturday.

"These repatriated Chinese minority citizens are illegal immigrants who have traveled to and stayed in Thailand through various channels," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.

Illegal immigration using counterfeit passports violates law and disrupts the normal international order of exit and entry, she said.

Hua's comments came in response to a question regarding Thailand's repatriation of Uygurs on Wednesday, which sparked protests from countries including the United States and Turkey and raised the concern of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

She said some foreign governments and forces had ignored the facts and incorrectly termed these illegal immigrants "refugees" and criticized the law-enforcement cooperation between China and Thailand and politicizing the issue.

"These serve as connivance in illegal immigration and smuggling and a violation of relevant international treaties and law, which harm global joint efforts in combating illegal immigration. We will never accept it," Hua said.

She condemned recent violence against Chinese and Thai citizens and organizations in Turkey following Thailand's repatriation of the illegal immigrants.

"We highly value the Turkish government's promise to never allow anyone to engage in activities that sabotage China's interests on its territory, and we urge Turkey to take effective measures to protect the security and legitimate rights of embassies and personnel of China and other related countries," Hua said.

"We strongly protest some forces' attempts to interfere in China's internal affairs via ethnic and religious issues and to disrupt China's security and stability," said the spokesperson.

"These attempts are doomed to failure," she added.

Several recruitment gangs were uncovered in Turkey by a Chinese police investigation, which also discovered that Turkish diplomats in some Southeast Asian countries had facilitated the illegal movement of people, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Staffs from a Turkish embassy of some Southeast Asian countries have participate in "rescuing" a Chinese head of a smuggling gang who was seized by local law-enforcing department in September, 2014, and the man is now at large in Turkey.

Of the 109 individuals returned to China last week, 13 had fled China after being implicated in terrorist activities, and another two had escaped detention, said a ministry statement.

According to their accounts, many had been radicalized by materials released by the World Uygur Congress and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

The recruitment gangs had used religious extremism to encourage people to go to Syria and Iraq to participate in jihad.