UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday said she was unable to visit detained Uighurs and that she was accompanied by authorities while visiting Xinjiang, remarks that raise questions about the Chinese government’s efforts to influence her trip.
“I was not able to speak to any Uighurs currently detained or their families during the visit,” Bachelet told a meeting of the Human Rights Council, adding that the visit to China faced “limitations, especially given the prevailing COVID restrictions.”
Bachelet did say the government helped her meet “all institutions I had asked to meet, such as senior members of key ministries, the judiciary, business, academia and other relevant stakeholders,” and repeated that her trip was not an “investigation.”
Human rights advocates have criticized Bachelet’s visit to China — the first by a UN human rights chief since 2005. Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said earlier it gave the Chinese government the lack of criticism on human rights that it desired.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s press office also said that Washington was concerned about Beijing’s efforts to manipulate Bachelet’s travels because conditions imposed by the government would not allow for an “independent assessment of the human rights environment.”
Rights issues have turned into a flashpoint in China-US ties. The topic is likely to become even more charged on Tuesday next week, when the US will start blocking imports from Xinjiang under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act unless companies can prove the goods were not made with forced labor.
China has called on the US to abandon the law, and regularly denies it commits abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere. The US, lawmakers in some nations and rights groups say China’s activities in Xinjiang amount to genocide against minority groups.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) signaled his nation is unlikely to back down on the issue, writing in a Chinese Communist Party magazine this month that certain nations “have been forcibly promoting Western democratic human rights concepts and systems in the world and using human rights issues to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, resulting in frequent wars, long-term social unrest and displacement of people in some countries.”
On Tuesday, the Netherlands issued a statement on behalf of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council that told Bachelet the members are “gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.”
LOST AT SEA: Survivors of a sunken Cambodian ship said they floated for two days in open waters, while a UN official said that traffickers might continue undeterred Chinese survivors from a boat that sank near a Cambodian island, killing three people and leaving eight missing, said they embarked on what they believed would be a short-term fishing job and ended up without food and water aboard the vessel, and their belongings were taken away. Cambodian authorities said on Friday they rescued 21 people one day after the boat small wooden fishing vessel sank near Koh Tang, a Cambodian island close to the maritime border with Vietnam. Nine more people were rescued by the Vietnamese and three bodies were recovered by Cambodia, leaving eight people still missing, Preah Sihanouk provincial
SOUTH CHINA SEA: Despite differences on some matters, Marcos has pledged to foster closer ties with China, calling the relationship ‘advantageous’ to both nations The Philippines is interested in renewing talks with China on joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea to expand and diversify its sources of energy, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in an interview. The Southeast Asian country seeks a compromise with China, which is claiming parts of the South China Sea that are within Philippine territory, Marcos said, stressing that any agreement must not contravene his nation’s laws. While the Philippines and China could not agree on which nation’s law would apply, “we continue to explore, perhaps there can be other ways that we can do it,” Marcos
Prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin (胡錫進) on Sunday said that as China ponders its COVID-19 policies, epidemic experts need to speak out and China ought to conduct comprehensive research and make any studies transparent to the public. Hu’s unusual call on Chinese social media for candor and transparency earned him 34,000 likes on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging platform, as well as frank responses from commentators in a normally tightly policed Internet quick to censor voices deemed a risk to social stability. China’s top leaders warned in May amid the COVID-19 lockdown of Shanghai and widespread restrictions in the Chinese capital, Beijing,
Standing in line to try to buy food, Rekha Begum is distraught. Like many others in Bangladesh, she is struggling to find affordable daily essentials such as rice, lentils and onions. “I went to two other places, but they told me they don’t have supplies. Then I came here and stood at the end of the queue,” said Begum, 60, as she waited for nearly two hours to buy what she needed from a truck selling food at subsidized prices in the capital, Dhaka. Bangladesh’s economic miracle is under severe strain, as fuel price hikes amplify public frustrations over rising costs for