Xi speaks with Bachelet, defends China’s rights progress


Michelle Bachelet meets Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guangzhou on Tuesday. Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping held a video call with UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday, as she visits Xinjiang during a mission overshadowed by fresh allegations of Uyghur abuses and fears she is being used as a public relations tool by the Communist Party.

Beijing is accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region as part of a years-long crackdown the United States and lawmakers in other Western countries have labelled a “genocide”.


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Bachelet is expected to visit the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar as part of a six-day tour that has been dogged by concerns from Western officials, diplomats and rights groups that the Communist Party will attempt to use it to whitewash abuses.

China vehemently denies the allegations, calling them the “lie of the century”.

Michelle Bachelet (2nd from left) holds a virtual meeting in Guangzhou, China. AP

The United States has reiterated its view that Bachelet’s visit was a mistake after the release of thousands of leaked documents and photographs from inside the system of mass incarceration this week.

But Xi defended his country’s human rights progress during the call while Xinjiang was not specifically mentioned by either side, according to a readout from state broadcaster CCTV.

“Human rights issues should also not be politicised, instrumentalised, or treated with double standards,” Xi said according to a CCTV readout, adding that China has “a human rights development path that… suits its national conditions”.

CCTV reported Xi as telling Bachelet that there is no “ideal nation” on human rights.

He added that there is “no need for a ‘teacher’ who is bossy towards other countries”, in an apparent reference to recent public criticisms of the trip by United States and UK officials.

According to the CCTV readout, Bachelet said the UN Human Rights Office is “willing to strengthen cooperation with the Chinese side”.

She was also reported to have said: “I admire China’s efforts and achievements in eradicating poverty, protecting human rights, and realising economic and social development.”

Agence France-Presse




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