UN human rights chief to begin controversial visit to China

The UN human rights chief was due to start a six-day trip to China on Monday that includes the remote Xinjiang region, raising fears about the access and propaganda value the visit offers the Chinese Communist Party.

Michelle Bachelet’s tour marks the first by the top UN human rights official in nearly two decades and comes as Beijing is accused of widespread abuses against Muslims in far western Xinjiang.

China strongly denies the accusations, calling them “the lie of the century.”

Later in the week, he will travel to the Xinjiang cities of Urumqi and Kashgar, as well as the southern city of Guangzhou.

UN officials have been locked in negotiations with the Chinese government since 2018 in a bid to secure “unrestricted and meaningful access” to Xinjiang.

– Access or concealment? –

“We do not expect the PRC to grant the necessary access to conduct a full and unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, using the acronym for People’s Republic. China.

His visit will be “a constant battle against the Chinese government’s efforts to cover up the truth,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

The last such visit, in 2005, came as Beijing wanted to soften its global image as it prepared to host the 2008 Olympics, but much has changed since then.

In addition to mass arrests, Chinese authorities have waged a campaign of forced labor, forced sterilization and destruction of Uyghur cultural heritage in Xinjiang, researchers and activists say.

But an article published by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Sunday praised the country’s “remarkable achievements in respecting and protecting human rights.”

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