China is being asked to allow UN human rights experts and independent researchers into Xinjiang, rather than invite tourists into Xinjiang.

China is facing international condemnation for its treatment of Uyghurs, including claims they are being put into a network of concentration camps and restricted from contact with the outside world.

The Chinese Consulate in Auckland this month said it wanted foreigners with "an objective and fair mind" to visit the region and judge with their own eyes.

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Amnesty International China researcher Patrick Poon said if China was genuine in responding to the issue, it should allow experts and researchers to conduct an independent investigation about what is actually happening in the region.

"By making propaganda like inviting foreign tourists to visit tourist spots in the region doesn't help to prove what is really happening in the camps," Poon said.

"The Chinese government changed from original denial of the camps to claiming that the camps are for 'vocational training' after international pressure. Many living overseas still say they cannot contact their relatives detained in the camps in the region."

It is understood millions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained in Xinjiang. Photo / File.
It is understood millions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are being detained in Xinjiang. Photo / File.

Poon said Uyghurs who have reached out to Amnesty say their relatives are well-educated and speak fluent Chinese.

"Why should they need to be sent to the camps for so called 're-education' and 'de-extremification'?" Poon asked.

A new report by US government-funded Freedom House criticised National MP Todd McClay for "echoing" the Chinese propaganda.

"New Zealand lawmaker Todd McClay recently referred to the forced indoctrination camps for Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as 'vocational training centres', echoing the terminology used by the Chinese government and state media to justify the mass detentions," the report from the US democracy watchdog said.

It also mentioned McClay's attendance at a dialogue in Beijing organised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s International Liaison Department in 2017.


A spokesman for McClay said it was "disappointing this report has taken two things and placed them out of context", Newshub reported.

He said McClay had raised concerns about suspected human rights abuses and that both National and Labour Party were invited to the 2017 event.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman in New Zealand dismissed the report as "false words", according to Newshub.

Auckland-based Vice-Consul Ankai Chen had earlier this month defended the freedom of religious belief for Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities claiming they were "strongly protected in Xinjiang".

Chen told the Herald the region now enjoyed "sustained economic development, social stability, better living standards and unprecedented cultural vivacity and a harmonious coexistence of religions."

He said China welcomed objective and fair-minded foreigners to visit Xinjiang and "see with their own eyes the remarkable achievement of the region".