Fiji has withdrawn its name from the list of nations criticising China's human rights violations of Uyghur and Muslim minorities.
Fiji joined a group of 51 nations supporting a cross-regional statement delivered by the United Kingdom, which demands China end human rights abuses in the province and highlights a deeply critical report on Xinjiang by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Fiji was the only Pacific country with diplomatic links to China to throw its weight behind the motion.
In the statement, the countries highlight that the UN High Commissioner found "arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities" in Xinjiang, which "may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity".
It says they urge China to end its violations of human rights in Xinjiang, engage constructively with the Human Rights Commissioner and fully implement the recommendations of the assessment.
The bulk of the statement's 51 signatories are Western nations, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and a host of European countries.
They were joined by Japan, as well as four Pacific Island nations that recognise Taiwan rather than China.
The ABC reports they have been told that China has been pushing Fiji to backtrack and that Fijian officials had quietly approached the statement's backers, asking whether it would be possible to remove its name.
One senior Fiji government source also told the ABC that the Foreign Affairs Secretary had instructed its mission in New York to "withdraw" from the statement, and suggested that its diplomats signed on without authorisation from Suva.
They said consistent with their policy of non interference, Fiji should be abstaining from supporting such statements.
They said by co-signing the statement, Fiji is deviating from its no interference policy and more important is that its impact on Fiji’s bilateral relations with People’s Republic of China.
fijivillage News is yet to verify comments by Fijian officials in New York.
We have sent questions to the Office of the Prime Minister as well as the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lenora Qereqeretabua. They are yet to respond.
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