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30 July, 2021

Fed up with the U.S., Ukraine cuts deals with China and shuts up about the Uyghurs

Without explanation, Ukraine took its signature off a statement asking China to let observers into Xinjiang to investigate allegations of persecution of Uyghurs

WASHINGTON — Frustrated with the U.S., Ukraine is cutting dealswith a rival superpower, inviting China to build infrastructure while holding back criticism of Beijing's human rights record.

Ukraine last month touted agreements with China to build airports, roads and railways in the Eastern European country and expressed gratitude for deliveries of Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines.

Just days before the cooperation deals were clinched, Kyiv chose to stay silent about China's alleged human rights abuses.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Ukraine withdrew its signature from a joint statement calling on China to allow independent observers into the country's Xinjiang region to investigate reports of persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

The foreign ministry has yet to offer a rationale for the move, and it did not respond to a request for comment.

Andriy Sharaskin, a member of the Ukrainian parliament's foreign policy committee, said China demanded that Ukraine take its signature off the joint statement and made it clear that promised deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines would be scrapped.

"When Ukraine signed the declaration, China started asking [Ukraine] to withdraw it. And at the same time, they blocked the shipment of the vaccines we already paid for," Sharaskin told NBC News, saying foreign ministry officials briefed him at the time.

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