Asia - Pacific

China will welcome 'friendly' visit to Xinjiang, says top envoy to UN

Ambassador Chen Xu says if UN human rights office goes to area where Uyghurs live, it should not be 'like a prosecutor'

Peter Kenny   | 13.10.2021
China will welcome 'friendly' visit to Xinjiang, says top envoy to UN

GENEVA

China's top envoy to the UN in Geneva said Wednesday that Beijing would welcome a "friendly visit" to the Xinjiang region but does not want an investigation into the situation of the Muslim Uyghur population there.

Chen Xu addressed a press conference organized by the UN correspondents association in Geneva, known as ACANU.

Anadolu Agency asked him to comment on calls over many months by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for her office to visit Xinjiang.

"It should be a friendly visit rather than an investigation based on the presumption of guilt," said Chen.

"So, the visit is friendly cooperation in nature, not like a prosecutor."

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at a press conference on Oct. 1 that his office has no permission from China to access Xinjiang, where ethnic Uyghur Muslims have reportedly been subjected to years of abuses of their identity and culture.


'No access to Xinjiang,' says UN official

"We've had no access to Xinjiang, meaningful or otherwise," said Colville, replying a question. "Obviously, this is not the only avenue we're pursuing."

Since she assumed office in 2018, Bachelet has been calling on China to allow her office access to the Uyghur-dominated Xinjiang autonomous region.

At the UN Human Rights Council on Sept. 13, she said she was sorry that there was no progress on the issue.

According to the UN data, at least 1 million Uyghurs are kept against their will in places Beijing calls "vocational training centers," and the international community defines them as "re-education camps."

At Wednesday's press conference, China's human rights envoy in Geneva said, "China extended an invitation to Madame Bachelet to visit China, including Xinjiang. We will welcome her to come to China, and we have made it quite clear on a number of occasions."

At the same press conference, the Beijing officials were asked how China, with a population of around 1.4 billion, had kept its COVID-19 infections below 100,000 and deaths around 4,900.

At the same time, there were more than 238 million confirmed cases globally, including nearly 4.86 million deaths.

"We have already administered 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines," said Feng Yong, dealing with health at the China mission to the UN in Geneva.

"And we implement very active contact tracing, case detection, quarantine, as well as community engagement to prevent and control domestic recurrence of cases, and so far, it is very, very successful."

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