UN human rights chief visits China: ‘Preachers are not needed’, Xi says

Xi’s remarks, made during a video call with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, are likely to intensify controversy surrounding the trip, which critics say could be a propaganda tool for Beijing.
Bachelet, who arrived in China on Monday on a six-day tour, is expected to visit the far western region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government is facing accusations of mass internment, forced assimilation, forced labor and forced sterilization of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities.

Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations.

But the trip – the first trip by a UN human rights chief to China since 2005 – was accompanied by questions about Bachelet’s access and her freedom to talk to locals unsupervised, raising concerns that it threatens her office’s credibility.

On Wednesday, Xi told Bachelet that China’s human rights development “is in line with its own national circumstances.”

“With regard to human rights, no country is perfect, there is no need for “preachers” to command other countries, much less they should politicize this issue, apply double standards or use it as an excuse to interfere in the affairs of other countries.” internal affairs,” Xi was quoted by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV as saying.

Bachelet said she intends to visit the country because “direct engagement with the Chinese government on human rights issues is a priority,” OHCHR said in a statement provided to CNN.

“For development, peace and security to be sustainable – locally and across borders – human rights must be at the core of them,” Bachelet said. “China has an important rule to play within multilateral institutions in facing the many challenges the world is currently facing, including threats to international peace and security, instability in the global economic system, inequality, climate change, and more.”

Neither the CCTV footage nor Bachelet’s statement mentions Xinjiang.

Bachelet is expected to visit the cities of Kashgar and Urumqi in Xinjiang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. The ministry said her trip would be on a “closed loop” meaning her delegation would be isolated inside a “bubble” to contain the potential spread of Covid-19 and no international journalists would be allowed to travel with her.

“We do not expect (China) to provide the necessary access needed to conduct a full and unsupervised assessment of the human rights situation in Xinjiang,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Tuesday.

“We consider it a mistake to agree to a visit under the circumstances,” Price said, adding that Bachelet would not be able to get a full picture of “atrocities, crimes against humanity and genocide” in the region.

Amnesty International said in a statement on Monday that Bachelet must “consider crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights” during the trip.

“Michelle Bachelet’s long-delayed visit to Xinjiang is an important opportunity to address human rights abuses in the region, but it will also be a constant battle against the Chinese government’s efforts to cover up the truth,” Agnes Callamard, secretary general of the organization, said in a statement.

“The UN must take steps to mitigate this and resist being used to support egregious propaganda.”

This story was updated with a statement from Michelle Bachelet.

Additional information from Reuters.

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