Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman defended China’s “right” to forcibly detain Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps on Friday.
Chinese state media quoted MBS saying: “China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremisation work for its national security.”
The crown prince visited China to sign multi-million trade deals, which has annoyed his allies in the West.
China’s President Xi Jinping told MBS that the two countries should strengthen global cooperation on de-radicalisation to “prevent the infiltration and spread of extremist thinking”.
The United Nations (UN) have estimated that at least one million Uyghur Muslims have been forcibly detained in detention centres, which Amnesty International has compared to “wartime concentration camps”.
Former inmates have stated that they were physically and mentally tortured into denouncing Islam and swearing allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party.
China had consistently denied the existence of the camps until last October, and has since claimed it is detaining people guilty of minor crimes in “vocational education centres”.
The Chinese government has received widespread criticism from western states over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
But Muslim leaders are yet to criticise China, which has in recent years become an important trading partner with many Muslim majority countries.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first to condemn Beijing, accusing China of “genocide” and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims as “a great cause of shame for humanity”.
Last month, the Turkish premier also called on China to close the concentration camps.
However, Turkey has since established closer economic and diplomatic ties with Beijing.
Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan told Turkish state television TRT that he “did not know” much about the conditions of the Uyghur Muslims.