Japan: Activist visit won't affect ties with China

Other News Materials 28 July 2009 17:53 (UTC +04:00)

The visit to Japan of an exiled Uighur activist who China blames for this month's ethnic riots will not affect relations between Tokyo and Beijing because its approval was not politically motivated, the government said Tuesday, AP reported.

China's Foreign Ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction" Monday with Japan for allowing a visit by Rebiya Kadeer, the U.S.-based dissident who heads the pro-independence World Uyghur Congress. Beijing says Kadeer instigated the protests that led to violence in the western region of Xinjiang that left 197 people dead.

But Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama said Kadeer's visit should not be a problem because she is not scheduled to meet with any government officials during her three-day trip.

"We examined her visa application, approved it and issued the visa based on the usual procedure," Kodama said at a regular news conference. "We do not believe her visit would negatively affect Japan-China relations."

Kadeer said she will use her visit to highlight the plight of ethnic Uighurs and the struggle for independence.

"I came here to let the Japanese people know the terrible conditions that the Uighurs are suffering," Kadeer was quoted as saying by Japan's public broadcaster NHK as she arrived in Tokyo.

"I want to let the people know how many Uighurs are actually killed and arrested," she said.

The riots in Xinjiang in which ethnic minority Muslim Uighurs clashed with majority Han Chinese were the country's worst ethnic violence in decades.

China continues to call the unrest an act of terrorism by a tiny minority of violent troublemakers, led by Kadeer, a 62-year-old businesswoman living in Washington. Beijing has not provided evidence, and Kadeer denies any role in the violence.

An Australian film festival has also come under fire because Kadeer is scheduled to attend it next month for the screening of a documentary about her.

Over the weekend, hackers posted a Chinese flag on the Web site of the Melbourne International Film Festival as protests escalated. Four Chinese films have pulled out of the festival, and a Chinese diplomat has protested the screening.