Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and Finland signed on 8 July 2019, along with 17 other nations, a letter addressed to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling on China to end its massive detention program in Xinjiang. The letter expressed concern about “credible reports of arbitrary detention” in Xinjiang and “widespread surveillance and restrictions” and called on China to “refrain from the arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement of Uighurs, and other Muslim and minority communities in Xinjiang.”
The letter was countered with another letter on Friday 12 July, 2019 signed by 37 countries defending China’s policies. News reports quote among others this passage from the second letter:
“Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers. … The past three consecutive years have not seen a single terrorist attack in Xinjiang, and people there enjoy a stronger sense of happiness, fulfilment and security now.”
Analysts have focused on the signatories to the two letters. While all Scandinavian countries signed the first letter, some of the countries in Asia covered by ScandAsia are signatories to the second letter supporting China’s detention centers. These were Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, North Korea, Philippines.