China is letting more than 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs drop their Chinese citizenship and leave the country, according to Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry.
The Associated Press first reported Beijing’s decision, which was later confirmed by the ministry.
It’s unclear who among the ethnic Kazakh community can leave China or under what circumstances. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.
Kazakhstan allows ethnic Kazakhs, including Chinese citizens, to repatriate and gain citizenship, NPR’s Rob Schmitz has reported.
However, the Central Asian country has long been hesitant to confront its large neighbor on the treatment of ethnic Kazakhs because of its dependency on Chinese investments and loans.
The change suggests that Beijing is under pressure following international condemnation of its crackdown on Muslims in northwestern China. Kazakhstan is also an important part of Beijing’s One Belt, One Road trade initiative.
But there is no country speaking up for the Uyghurs. Turkey is run by an increasingly fearful authoritarian who sees his interests aligned with Beijing, not with the Turkic ethnic group for whom he expressed solidarity in 2009.