China’s ambassador to the UK has rejected accusations of widespread human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims after being confronted with video footage, allegedly from the province of Xinjiang, showing blindfolded men waiting to be led on to trains.
Liu Xiaoming accused “so-called western intelligence” of making repeated “false allegations” against China when he was shown the footage by the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
He suggested that the video – which has been widely circulated on social media in recent days and purportedly shows hundreds of detained, bound and blindfolded Uighurs – was “fake”.
“There is no so-called massive forced sterilisation among Uighur people in China,” Mr Liu said.
“It is totally against the truth.”
The Chinese ambassador also insisted he did not know where the video had originated from.
On the same programme, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, accused Chinese officials of committing “gross, egregious” abuses in the northwestern Xinjiang province following multiple reports of human rights violations against the Uighur minority group.
“It is clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on. We are working with our international partners on this. It is deeply, deeply troubling,” Mr Raab told The Andrew Marr Show.
“The reports of the human aspect of it – from forced sterilisation to the education camps – are reminiscent of something we have not seen for a long, long time.”
He added: “This is from a leading member of the international community that wants to be taken seriously and in fact who we want a positive relationship with. But we cannot see behaviour like that and not call it out.”
Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, called on the government to use its new independent sanctions regime to target individuals implicated in human rights abuses in the province.
However, Mr Liu warned that China would have a “resolute response” against any move by the UK to sanction officials involved in alleged abuses.
Earlier this month, the British government announced plans to offer up to 3 million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK, paving the way for them to apply for citizenship, following Beijing’s introduction of a strict and controversial national security law in the territory.
China responded angrily to that move, warning that the UK would “bear all consequences” if it proceeded with the offer.
On Monday, the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, told MPs that UK mobile providers would be banned from buying 5G equipment from the Chinese technology company Huawei following concerns over the alleged security threat posed by the firm.
Additional reporting by PA