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 earliest date.
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 detainees, Wednesday.
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.
States will not send the Uighers back to China, out of fear they will be
Palau 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.