US ‘troubled’ as UN rights chief urges China to review counter-terrorism policy

Bachelet however reiterated that his six-day trip, which ended on Saturday and included a visit to the western region of Xinjiang, was not a survey of Chinese human rights policies, but an opportunity to engage with the government.

Washington, meanwhile, said it “remains concerned” about Bachelet’s trip – which it believes China could use for propaganda purposes.

Bachelet began his trip to China, the first by a United Nations high commissioner for human rights in 17 years, in the southern city of Guangzhou on Monday before heading to Xinjiang.

His office said last year it believed Uyghurs in Xinjiang had been illegally detained, abused and forced to work.

“I have raised questions and concerns regarding the application of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in broad application, in particular the impact on the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly minorities Muslim,” she said during an online press briefing on Saturday.

China denies all accusations of abuse in Xinjiang.
"No need for preachers","  Chinese leader Xi Jinping tells UN human rights chief

Bachelet’s access has been limited as China has arranged for her to travel in a “closed loop” – isolating people in a virtual bubble to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – with no foreign press.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington “remains concerned” about Bachelet’s trip to China.

“We are concerned that the conditions imposed by the Beijing authorities during the visit did not allow for a full and independent assessment of the human rights environment in (China), including in Xinjiang, where the genocide and crimes against humanity continue,” Blinken said in a statement. Saturday.

The United States was “further disturbed” by reports that people in Xinjiang had been pressured not to complain about conditions in the region.

“The High Commissioner should have been allowed to meet with family members of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority diaspora communities in Xinjiang who are not in detention centers but who do not have the right to get out of the area,” he said.

Rights groups and Western countries fear China could use his trip as an endorsement of its rights record. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday it was “a mistake to accept a visit under these circumstances.”

China initially denied the existence of detention camps in Xinjiang, but in 2018 said it had set up “vocational training centers” needed to fight what it called terrorism, separatism and of religious radicalism in the region.

Bachelet said he raised with the Chinese government the lack of independent judicial oversight over the operation of the centers and allegations of the use of force, mistreatment and severe restrictions on religious practice.

In 2019, Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir said all trainees had “graduated”.

At the press conference, Bachelet also described as “deeply disturbing” the detention in Hong Kong of activists, lawyers and journalists.

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