US ‘deeply concerned’ over UN Human Rights chief Xinjiang visit


The US State Department said it is “deeply concerned” that the visit to China by High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will be met with restrictions, while criticising the UN rights chief for her “silence” in the atrocities in China’s western Xinjiang region.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a press briefing on Friday (20 May) that the United States had “no expectation that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) will grant the necessary access required to conduct a complete, unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang”.

The department is also criticising Bachelet for her continued “silence” in the face of what it said were atrocities against the country’s ethnic minorities.

Price said the United States had made its concerns known to China and to Bachelet, who he said for months had not heeded repeated calls by the United States and other countries to release a report by her staff on the situation in Xinjiang.

“Despite frequent assurances by her office that the report would be released in short order, 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 throughout the PRC – it is deeply concerning, particularly as she is and should be the leading … voice on human rights,” he said.

China’s foreign ministry announced that Bachelet will visit the country from 23 to 28 May, in what will be the first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights trip there since 2005. Her schedule includes a trip to Xinjiang, where activists say some 1 million Uyghurs Muslims have been held in mass detention.

The United States accuses Beijing of committing genocide there, and Western rights groups fear the visit will be seen as an endorsement of China’s rights record.

China has denied Western allegations of forced labor and genocide against Uyghurs and has warned other countries not to interfere in China’s domestic affairs by criticising its actions in Xinjiang.

Human Rights Watch said on Friday that it and other rights groups had expressed concerns that the Chinese government would “manipulate the visit as a public relations stunt”. (Source: CNA)