Chinese state media have slammed western media for “distorting” China’s ethnic minority policies after anti-China demonstrations broke out in Turkey over the weekend.

The living conditions of ethnic minorities in China have long been twisted by a small number of Western media, a report by the Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Allegations that the Chinese government imposed restrictions on Uyghurs during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and “demagogic speeches made by a small number of agitators” have led to recent anti-China protests in Turkey, Xinhua said.

On Saturday Turkish nationalists attacked a group of tourists from South Korea in Istanbul, mistaking them for Chinese. The incident happened at Topkapi Palace, a tourist hotspot, where activists demonstrated against China’s alleged persecution of Muslim Uyghurs. The Korean tourists were rescued by riot police.

turkey anti-China protest
Photo: 谷大白话 via Weibo.

On Sunday protesters rallied outside the Chinese embassy in Ankara. The embassy has since been guarded by armed forces, Xinhua said. A statement posted on the embassy’s website urged Chinese tourists in Turkey to avoid walking near or taking pictures of protesters. It also asked Chinese nationals to reduce “outdoor activities alone” in Turkey.

Xinhua said foreign media reports about a Ramadan ban in Xinjiang “absolutely go against facts.” Religious activities during Ramadan were orderly and harmonious, the report said. It also noted violent protests could lead to decreases in the number of Chinese tourists in Turkey.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.