The United States is “deeply concerned” that China will restrict access to a visit by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, the State Department said on Friday, while also criticizing Bachelet for his “silence” in the face of it What it said was atrocities in China’s western Xinjiang region.
China’s Foreign Ministry announced that Bachelet will visit the country from May 23-28, marking the first visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2005. Her schedule includes a trip to Xinjiang, where activists say around 1 million Uyghur Muslims live in mass detention.
The United States has accused Beijing of committing genocide there, and Western rights groups fear the visit will be seen as an endorsement of China’s human rights record. Continue reading
“We are deeply concerned about the upcoming visit,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference, adding the United States has “no expectation that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) will provide the necessary access that required to conduct a full visit, unmanipulated assessment of Xinjiang’s human rights environment.”
Price said the United States has communicated its concerns to China and Bachelet, who he says have failed to heed repeated calls by the United States and other countries for months to release a report from their staff on the situation in Xinjiang.
“Despite frequent assurances from her office that the report will be released shortly, it remains unavailable to us,” Price said.
“The High Commissioner’s continued silence in the face of indisputable evidence of atrocities in Xinjiang and other human rights violations and abuses across the PRC is deeply concerning, particularly as she is and should be the leading … voice on human rights,” he said.
China has dismissed Western allegations of forced labor and genocide against Uyghurs and warned other countries not to interfere in China’s internal affairs by criticizing its actions in Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch said Friday that it and other human rights groups had expressed concerns that the Chinese government was “manipulating the visit as a public relations stunt.”/ Reuters