US still 'concerned' over UN rights chief Bachelet's Xinjiang visit, says Blinken

US still 'concerned' over UN rights chief Bachelet's Xinjiang visit, says Blinken
2 min read
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet defended her visit earlier on Saturday, saying it was 'not an investigation' but called on China to avoid 'arbitrary and indiscriminate measures' in its crackdown in Xinjiang province.
Antony Blinken said China made 'efforts to restrict and manipulate' UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet's visit [JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP/Getty-archive]

The United States expressed concern on Saturday over China's "efforts to restrict and manipulate" the UN human rights chief's visit to the Xinjiang region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"The United States remains concerned about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and her team's visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) and PRC efforts to restrict and manipulate her visit," Blinken said in a statement.

"We are concerned the conditions Beijing authorities imposed on the visit did not enable a complete and independent assessment of the human rights environment in the PRC, including in Xinjiang, where genocide and crimes against humanity are ongoing."

Washington had warned before Bachelet made her long-planned visit to China that authorities would not grant her the necessary access to get a full assessment of the human rights situation.

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Blinken reiterated that stance, saying he was "troubled by reports that residents of Xinjiang were warned not to complain or speak openly about conditions in the region, [and] that no insight was provided into the whereabouts of hundreds of missing Uyghurs and conditions for over a million individuals in detention."

Bachelet defended her visit earlier on Saturday, saying it was "not an investigation" but called on Beijing to avoid "arbitrary and indiscriminate measures" in its crackdown in Xinjiang.

Witnesses and rights groups say more than one million people have been detained in indoctrination camps in the western Chinese region that aim to destroy the Islamic culture of the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim groups and forcibly integrate them into China's Han majority.

Beijing denies the genocide allegations and claims it is offering vocational training to reduce the allure of Islamist extremism.