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China actions 'appropriate'

Written By vibykhmer on Monday, July 13, 2009 | 1:59 PM

A Uighur man in Kashgar, Xinjiang, watches Chinese soldiers march past in July 2008. Tensions between Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese in Xinjiang have been simmering for years.

THE Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Saturday supporting China's actions in the restive Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where, according to the Chinese government, unrest between Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese has left 184 dead.

"The government of China is taking appropriate measures to address the problem and restore social order," the statement said in reference to China's crackdown in Xinjiang.

In the wake of the riots in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, Chinese state media have reported that many mosques in Urumqi were closed Friday, and that public assembly without police approval has been banned.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called these government actions China's "exclusive internal affair".

Rebiya Kadeer, the president of the World Uighur Congress, wrote in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday that deaths in Xinjiang are likely much higher than reported by Chinese state media, saying her sources claim 400 Uighurs have been killed in Urumqi.

Uighurs, a Turkish-speaking Muslim minority in Xinjiang, have long complained about discrimination and the suppression of their language and culture.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told the Post that the ministry issued the statement "to show Cambodia's stance that China is a friendly country".

Relations between China and Cambodia, however, have not always been so friendly. In a 1988 essay, Prime Minister Hun Sen called China "the root of everything that was evil in Cambodia", referring to China's support of the Khmer Rouge.

But after Hun Sen ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh in a 1997 coup, China was the first country to recognise Hun Sen's rule, delivering to Cambodia military cargo valued at up to US$2.8 million, according to Julio Jeldres, Norodom Sihanouk's official biographer.

Since 2006, China has pledged $880 million in loans and grants to Cambodia. China also built and financed the more than $30 million Council of Ministers building.

The Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh said Sunday that it welcomed Cambodia's statement of support but declined to comment further.

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