China puts up sovereignty claim to snub new UN rights chief

New UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet. (Photo courtesy: UN)
New UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet. (Photo courtesy: UN)

(, Sep12, 2018) – China has ‘welcomed’ the UN’s new human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, by telling her to respect its sovereignty after she urged it to allow monitors into the restive far western region of Xinjiang and expressed concern about the situation there. Last month, a United Nations rights panel said it had received credible reports that up to one million ethnic Uyghurs may be held in extra-legal detention in Xinjiang, and called for them to be freed.

But China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang has made it clear that his country did not want the United Nations to get involved.

“China urges the UN human rights high commissioner and office to scrupulously abide by the mission and principles of the UN charter, respect China’s sovereignty, fairly and objectively carry out its duties, and not listen to one-sided information,” Sep 11 quoted him as saying at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Beijing regularly claims that ‘anti-China forces’ are behind criticism of its anti-human rights policies, especially in regions like Xinjiang and Tibet.

Bachelet’s appeal for access came as New York-based Human Rights Watch said the Turkic Uyghur minority faced arbitrary detentions, daily curbs on religious practice and “forced political indoctrination” in a mass security crackdown.

The report cited her as saying in her maiden speech to the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, that the UN panel in question had brought to light “deeply disturbing allegations of large-scale arbitrary detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim communities, in so-called re-education camps across Xinjiang”.

Reports had been received of “patterns of human rights violations in other regions”, Bachelet, a former two-term Chilean president, has added, calling on Beijing to permit access for her staff across China, saying she expected discussions to start soon.

Never being allowed such access was one of the biggest expressed disappointments of her predecessor, the former Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Zeid.


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