Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan Speaks out on Xinjiang Violence

Turkey's prime minister on Friday compared ethnic violence in China's Xinjiang province to genocide, escalating criticism of Beijing following this week's killing of at least 156 people - including Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uighurs.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strong words came amid daily demonstrations in Turkey protesting the clashes in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi between Han Chinese and minority Uighurs, who share ethnic and cultural bonds to Turks. Hundreds of Turks prayed for the victims and set Chinese flags on fire on Friday in protests in Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared Friday the plight of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang to genocide, risking the ire of China, a key trading partner.

Erdogan sharply elevated his government's criticism of Beijing as anti-Chinese demonstrations were held across Turkey in solidarity with the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority.

Erdogan, who heads Turkey's Islamist-rooted government, did not specifically blame China -- a key trading partner -- for deaths in Xinjiang but strongly criticised Beijing's inaction.