China allowing 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs to leave Xinjiang region

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — Kazakhstan says China is allowing more than 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs to abandon their Chinese citizenship and leave the country, in a sign that Beijing may be starting to feel a mounting backlash against its sweeping crackdown on Muslims in the far west region of Xinjiang.

The detention of Uighur, Kazakh and other minorities in internment camps has been a touchy issue in neighboring Kazakhstan. China is a major trading partner, and Kazakhstan’s state-restricted media had generally avoided reporting on it. But activists say pressure for action has slowly built, following an Associated Press story on the camps in May and other international media coverage.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry press office, in an email response, confirmed Kazakh media reports in December that China has agreed to let 2,000-plus ethnic Kazakhs leave.