The Biden administration over the weekend accused China of trying to “restrict and manipulate” access to the country by top UN human rights officials as part of Beijing’s efforts to hide evidence of its genocide against Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups. minority.
“We are concerned that the conditions imposed by Beijing authorities on this visit will not allow for a complete and independent assessment of China’s human rights environment. [China],” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement referring to a visit by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet that ended Saturday.
Mr Blinken was particularly disturbed by the situation in China’s northwest Xinjiang province, saying “genocide and crimes against humanity continue” and suggested preventing Ms Bachelet and her team from conducting a full assessment in the province.
Bachelet, a Chilean politician who has served at the United Nations since 2018, made headlines by announcing that she had expressed concerns to Chinese officials about Beijing’s widespread counterterrorism and deradicalization during her visit, the secretary of state’s comments circulated late Saturday. Measures against Xinjiang Uyghurs and others.
Ms Bachelet, who visited Xinjiang on a six-day trip to China, said the visit was not an investigation but an opportunity to raise concerns with senior Chinese leaders and pave the way for more regular interactions to Support China in fulfilling its obligations under international human rights law.
“It gave me an opportunity to better understand the situation in China and also to Chinese authorities to better understand our concerns and possibly rethink policies that we believe could negatively impact human rights,” she said in a video news conference. before leaving China.
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Her rhetoric drew some ire in Washington, with Republicans and Democrats initially criticizing her decision to visit Xinjiang, saying the visit could give Chinese authorities an opportunity to spread misinformation about the genocide in Xinjiang.
American officials and human rights activists also warned ahead of the trip that Chinese authorities would try to control what Ms Bachelet and her team saw on the ground.
Mr Blinken reiterated those concerns over the weekend, claiming State Department officials were “disturbed by reports that residents of Xinjiang have been warned not to complain or speak publicly about conditions in the region, [and] No information was provided on the whereabouts of hundreds of missing Uighurs. “
“The new report adds to the evidence of arbitrary detention among the more than 1 million people detained in Xinjiang,” the secretary of state noted.
“Survivors and families of detainees have described appalling cruel treatment, including torture, forced sterilization, state-sponsored forced labour, sexual violence and the forced separation of children from their parents,” Mr Blinken said.
“The High Commissioner should be allowed to hold secret meetings with the families of the Uighur and other ethnic diaspora communities in Xinjiang who are not in detention but are prohibited from leaving the country,” he said. “We also note that the High Commissioner is not allowed access to those involved in the Xinjiang workforce. Individuals who were transferred and sent to other provinces in China.”
Ms. Bachelet, who is visiting China for the first time in 17 years by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she raised the issue of the lack of independent judicial oversight of the Uighur camp system run by Chinese authorities.
China’s ruling Communist Party has vehemently denied all reports of human rights abuses and genocide in Xinjiang, describing the camps as vocational training and education centers to combat extremism and saying they have been closed. Beijing has never publicly stated how many people made it through the camps.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu accused some Western countries of fabricating lies on Xinjiang under the guise of human rights in a statement during Ms Bachelet’s visit over the weekend. The government has taken measures in accordance with the law to combat violent terrorist activities and bring security, stability and prosperity to northwest China, the statement said.
The Chinese side pointed out that Xinjiang is not a human rights issue at all, but a major issue related to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. “The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are the big family of the Chinese nation.”
Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said Ms Bachelet should condemn human rights abuses in Xinjiang, call on China to release arbitrarily detainees and end systemic attacks on ethnic minorities in the region .
“The High Commissioner’s visit featured the opportunity to take pictures with senior government officials, and Chinese state media manipulated her remarks to give the impression that she was entering directly into a highly predictable Chinese government propaganda campaign,” Ms Kalamade said in a press release. .
• This document is based in part on the Cable Services report.