Some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday called for respecting China's territorial integrity while debating response to the riots in the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang.
They pointed out the fact that the riots that occurred on July 5 in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were instigated by Uygur separatists and that the majority of the victims were ethnic Han Chinese.
Adrian Severin, a Romanian MEP who spoke for the Socialist group, said minority rights should not be used as an excuse for separatist policies and extremist means to promote these policies.
"We have to also ask everybody in this world to refrain from using minority rights as a means for promoting geopolitical goals," he told the chamber.
Charles Tannock of Britain said while most of the Uygur population in Xinjiang are peaceful followers of Islam, "however, sadly, some of the local population in recent years have become increasingly radicalized by terrorists in league with Al-Qaeda."
As the EU pursues the one-China policy, "we shall not support in any way the secession of Xinjiang," he said.
Tannock, who spoke for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), also blasted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement that the Xinjiang violence was a genocide of Uygurs.
Tannock noted that Erdogan has refused to recognize the Armenian genocide by the Turks during and after World War I.
"His efforts to appeal to pan-Turkish nationalism are also hypocritical, given Turkey's treatment of its own minorities, and in particular, the Kurds in eastern Turkey," he said.
Nirj Deva, also a British MEP, warned that the EU should not support separatist forces in China.
"Supporting separatism anywhere in the world is against the spirit of the EU ... We cannot work to unite Europe at home and encourage the break-up of China abroad. That is the road to chaos and conflict," he said.
Deva said that if the violence in Xinjiang was "encouraged and perpetrated by outside forces, particularly separatist fundamentalist forces, then they should be indicted in the International Criminal Court; if they were home-grown, then it is a matter for the police in China."
Certain MEPs attacked the Chinese government for its handling of the violence or its policies on ethnic minorities in China.
Those MEPs simply would not recognize the fact that the violence was carried out by separatists.
Struan Stevenson of Britain asked those MEPs to get the facts right in the first place.
"The incidents which took place on the fifth of July involved a premeditated attack... As we know, certain militants among the Uygur population of Xinjiang are Islamic fundamentalists who demand a separate state. They mounted a violent attack which led to the deaths of 137 Han Chinese -- so the vast majority of those killed were Han Chinese," he said.
"Let's base our criticism on facts," Stevenson concluded.
Sabine Loesing of Germany also criticized misconceptions regarding the Uygurs in Xinjiang.
"The Uygurs in the region do enjoy many privileges. For example, they are allowed to have more children. They are also allowed to practice their religion during work hours," she told the chamber.
She said Europeans should take an unbiased look at things and better inform themselves on the Uygurs.
"Here, things might be slightly different than they appear at first glance. We ought to be cautious when it comes to adopting one-sided positions," said Loesing, a member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left group.
She said the EU should support the Chinese in solving their problems.
(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2009)