China opposes the Pacific island nation Palau's offer to take 17 Uighur
detainees released from the American facility at Guantanamo. The
American military no longer considers them "enemy combatants," but
China says they are terrorist suspects and should be returned at the
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang
called on the United States to "stop handing over
terrorist suspects to any third country." at a media briefing Thursday.
Qin says China opposes any country taking the 17 Uighurs from
Guantanamo Bay. He did not specifically mention Palau - the Pacific
island nation that accepted the United States' request to take the
The 17 Chinese Muslims were captured in
Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001. They are affiliated with the East
Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist group from Western China. The
group is on the sanction list of the United Nations Security Council.
The United States also listed the group as a terrorist organization in
Spokesman Qin says China urges the United States to
fulfill its "international obligation of counter-terrorism" and return
the men to China, as soon as possible.
Although Qin repeatedly
called the detainees "terrorist suspects," the Pentagon cleared the 17
men of enemy combatant status. A federal district court even decided
the detainees could be released in the United States last October, but
an appeals court overturned the ruling.
The United States will not send the Uighers back to China, out of fear they will be persecuted.
officials say the decision to temporarily resettle the men is based on
human rights concerns. It comes at the same time as Palau and the
United States are discussing the possibility of a $200-million aid
package for the remote archipelago.
Palau maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, not China. The island nation has a population of 20,000 people.