Guterres expects China to let UN rights chief visit Xinjiang | United Nations News

The UN secretary-general told Chinese leaders they must allow Michelle Bachelet to make a “credible visit” to the country, including Xinjiang.

Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, told leaders in Beijing he expects them to allow the UN human rights chief to make a “credible visit” to China, including in Xinjiang.

António Guterres met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics on Saturday, according to a UN account of their talks.

The UN chief “expressed his hope that the contacts between the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chinese authorities will allow a credible visit by the High Commissioner to China, including to Xinjiang”, indicates the communicated.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency made no mention of the rights issue in its report of the meeting.

UN human rights envoy Michelle Bachelet has long sought independent access to Xinjiang, a region in far western China where authorities are accused of widespread rights abuses rights against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Activists say the abuses include torture, forced labor and the detention of a million people in internment camps.

China denies the claims, saying the camps are re-education and training centers set up to counter religious extremism.

The issue has soured relations between Beijing and the West, sparking accusations of “genocide” from the United States and a Washington-led diplomatic boycott by some countries of the Winter Games.

China blasted the boycott, repeatedly urging critics to stop “politicizing” the Olympics.

But at the opening ceremony of the Games, China chose a young Uighur athlete, 20-year-old cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, as one of the last Olympic torchbearers – a decision that some say analysts, had a clear political connotation.

Bachelet’s office in Geneva said last month that talks were underway for a possible trip to Xinjiang in the first half of the year.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported last month that Beijing had relented and accepted Bachelet’s visit on the condition that the trip be “friendly” and not presented as an investigation.

He also said that Beijing would also have “pushed for a delay” in releasing a long-awaited report on human rights in Xinjiang until the end of the games.

Campaigners had been eagerly awaiting the report and pressure had grown for it to be released before the Beijing Games, but the UN said late last month it would not be released before the Games.

During Saturday’s meeting with Xi, António Guterres “expressed the desire for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and the People’s Republic of China in all pillars of the Organization’s work – peace and security, sustainable development, including including climate change and biodiversity, and human rights,” according to the UN.

On climate change, the UN chief “recognized China’s significant efforts to combat climate change, but reiterated the call for further efforts to accelerate the transition to a green economy to address the emissions deficit.

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