WASHINGTON – The United States is “deeply concerned” that China will restrict access to a visit by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, the State Department said Friday, while criticizing Bachelet for his “silence” in the face of atrocities in China’s western Xinjiang region.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has announced that Bachelet will visit the country from May 23 to 28, the first visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2005. His schedule includes a visit to Xinjiang, where staff say there are about 1 million Uighur Muslims. The masses have been detained.
The United States has accused Beijing of committing genocide there, and Western rights groups fear the visit could be seen as support for China’s rights record.
“We are deeply concerned about the upcoming visit,” State Department spokeswoman Ned Price told a news briefing. Continuous evaluation.
Price said the United States had conveyed its concerns to China and the Bachelet, which he said had not listened to repeated calls from the United States and other countries for a report by its staff on the situation in Xinjiang for months.
“Despite repeated assurances from his office that the report would be released in a brief order, it remains unavailable to us,” Price said.
“The High Commissioner’s continued silence in the face of undeniable evidence of other human rights violations and abuses across Xinjiang and throughout the PRC – this is deeply troubling, especially as he should be a leading … voice for human rights.” .
China has denied Western allegations of forced labor and genocide against Uyghurs and criticized its actions in Xinjiang, warning other countries not to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
Human Rights Watch said Friday that it and other rights groups had expressed concern that the Chinese government would conduct the visit “as a public relations stunt.”
(Reporting by Humera Pamuk and Michael Martina; Editing by Margurita Choi)