China hopes UN rights chief’s visit will ‘clarify misinformation’

Beijing, May 24 (EFE).- Beijing hopes that the first trip to China of the current United Nations’ rights chief will serve to “clarify misinformation,” the country’s foreign minister said ahead of the envoy’s visit to Xinjiang region.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Wang Yi met Monday in the southeastern city of Guangzhou, after the arrival of the UN envoy for a six-day visit – the first of a holder of the office in 17 years.

Bachelet is set on Tuesday to visit Xinjiang, where China has been internationally accused of carrying out human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities, including the Uyghurs.

Wang said the envoy’s visit is “of landmark importance for both sides,” and “expressed the hope that this trip would help enhance understanding and cooperation, and clarify misinformation,” according to a readout of the pair’s meeting from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“To advance the international cause of human rights, we must first, respect each other and refrain from politicizing human rights,” the foreign ministry cited Wang as saying.

Beijing has often responded to criticism from foreign countries – especially Western ones – by accusing them of interfering in what it considers to be China’s internal affairs.

The ministry’s readout also claimed that Bachelet “congratulated China on its important achievements in economic and social development and human rights protection.”

Likewise, it said the UN envoy hoped the visit would “enhance mutual understanding and trust” between the parties and “advance the international human rights cause,” despite the fact that in recent days several Western organizations and governments, including the United States, have questioned the usefulness of her visit.

The US State Department on Friday said it was “deeply concerned” about the visit and has “no expectation that the PRC will grant the necessary access required to conduct a complete, unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang.”

“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,” spokesman Ned Price said.

“The United States remains gravely concerned by the genocide and crimes against humanity that PRC authorities are perpetrating against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Along these same lines, the NGO Human Rights Watch expressed its fear that Beijing would use the visit for propaganda purposes.

In recent years, Beijing has faced numerous accusations that it has launched a massive campaign to detain and repress at least hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs under the guise of stopping Islamic extremism.

Beijing, which has described the accusations as “the lie of the century,” says that it has not used re-education internment camps but rather “vocational training centers” as part of a program to improve the region’s economy and society, which has suffered Chinese FM: Bachelet’s visit to Xinjiang “will clear up misinformation”terrorist attacks in recent decades. EFE


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