China directs UN rights chief to ‘regular channel’ for Tibet visit plea

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.

(, Oct25, 2014) – China has refused to confirm that the UN’s top human rights official will be permitted to visit Tibet, though leaving a window of opportunity open for him. Reuters Oct 23 cited Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as telling a daily briefing that Mr Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, must apply through “appropriate channels”.

Hua has also laid down conditions for allowing a visit. “China is poised to cooperate with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights based on equality and mutual respect,” the foreign ministry’s website quoted her as saying. She also wanted the High Commissioner to “perform his duties fairly and objectively.”

A possible visit to Xinjiang was also not ruled out. Indeed, the foreign ministry’s website also said Mr zeid “can make his request of visiting China’s Tibet and Xinjiang through regular channels.”

Zeid, who took over from Ms Navi Pillay on Sep 1, had said Oct 16 that he was in talks with the Chinese government for a possible visit to Tibet. Reuters Oct 16 quoted him as saying, “China in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) agreed to the recommendation that there be a visit by the High Commissioner to Tibet. So we are discussing this issue with the Chinese authorities.” It was the only substantive recommendation accepted by China.

“I’ve had a few very preliminary discussions about this. We agreed we would sit at some stage and elaborate a concept of how this is going to take place,” the veteran Jordanian diplomat at the UN was further quoted as saying at that time.

In 1998, Mary Robinson became the only UN rights chief to visit China, and Tibet. Repeated requests by her successors, including Ms Pillay, have not yielded any positive response from China.


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