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China calls Uighur leader's comments 'absurd', says Xinjiang at peace

Rebiya Kadeer, former political prisoner, currently president of World Uyghur Congress (WUC), speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 18, 2011. Photo: Reuters

China on Tuesday condemned a top exiled Uighur splittist for her "absurd" comments about Britain's lavish reception for President Xi Jinping, adding that its far western region of Xinjiang was at peace.

The red carpet Britain is rolling out this week to welcome Xi is stained with the blood of Uighurs, Tibetans and dissidents, Rebiya Kadeer, the president of the World Uyghur Congress, said in Tokyo on Monday.

China's repressive policies had turned Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people, "almost into a war zone", Kadeer added.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Tuesday dismissed Kadeer's remarks as being "absurd and extreme", and characterized them as "ignorant speech".

"All types of people in Xinjiang live and work in peace," Hua told a daily news briefing. "There is only a small group of people that seek to destroy China's ethnic harmony and social stability. I think their actions and words should be condemned."

China says Islamist militants and separatists operate in energy-rich Xinjiang on the borders of central Asia, where violence has killed hundreds in recent years. Radio Free Asia reported that at least 50 people died last month in an attack at a Xijiang coal mine that police blamed on knife-wielding separatists, just before China marked 60 years since its founding of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

China dismisses Kadeer as an "anti-Chinese splittist". She is a former Chinese political prisoner accused of leaking state secrets in 1999. She was later allowed to leave on medical grounds and now lives in the United States.

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