‘It’s a victory for China’: UN envoy struggles to find truth in Xinjiang

‘It’s a victory for China’: UN envoy struggles to find truth in Xinjiang

Michelle Bachelet, the UN chief for human rights, put her reputation and the reputation of the 193-member organization on an investigation into Chinese crimes against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The former Chilean president, long considered a candidate for the first woman to head the UN, made a significant trip this week to the northwest China region, home to a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. subjected to mass internmentsforced labor camps and re-education, as well as technology-based draconian surveillance and police persecution.

However, despite her personal experiences of repression and a great reputation among his UN counterparts, hopes are vague that Bachelet will learn anything of value about China’s security apparatus and Uyghur’s plight. Nor is it expected to persuade Beijing to change course.

Instead, critics said, its tightly controlled mission was undermined by relentless Chinese obstruction, refutation and propaganda. The trip also highlighted years of international failures in holding the presidency Xi Jinpingthe Russian administration to answer for China’s growing influence in the UN.

“All our like-minded countries have similar views on the visit: it is a victory for China,” said a senior European diplomat in Beijing. “The best thing she can do right now is be open about the approach she had.”

Bachelet is no stranger to prisons. As a young woman in Chile in the 1970s, she was captured by secret service agents and held in a secret detention center before being exiled. Her father was tortured and died behind bars.

Her trip marks the first time that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights has had access to China since 2005. That comes in the background charges of genocide by the US, UK, Canada and others, as well as sanctions and boycotts of corporations associated with the region.

Exercise against riots at the Xinjiang Detention Center is shown in this picture published by the Memorial Foundation of the Victims of Communism © The Victims Of Communism Memoria / AFP / Getty Images

In a series of orchestrated events, Bachelet met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi before speaking to Xi via video link and traveling to Xinjiangthe capital Urumqi and Kashgar, another large city.

“I am committed to this visit. . . because for me, the priority is to work directly with the Chinese government, on human rights issues, domestic, regional and global, ”Bachelet told Xi.

Beijing has denied the alleged crimes as a “lie of the century” and accused the U.S. of using Xinjiang as a political ploy to curb China’s rise. However, Chinese authorities have controlled access to the region for years, closing it off from journalists, diplomats and NGOs.

Wang, the foreign minister, said Bachelet’s trip would “help clear up misinformation” from “anti-Chinese forces” as he presented her with a copy of Xi’s book: Excerpts from Xi Jinping on Respect and Protection of Human Rights. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and state media expanded the photos of the exchange.

Richard Gowan, the UN’s director at the International Crisis Group, said China had made the trip a “public relations mess for the UN” and put Bachelet’s chance to improve the Uighur’s position “perhaps to 3 percent”.

But Gowan said the envoy’s trip should be viewed in the same light as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin last month.

“If it is not seen that the UN is not leaving, it is even more detrimental to the remaining hope that the UN can do some valuable work,” he said.

“In a sense, she is sacrificing herself because we knew from the very beginning that there would be no real Chinese transparency. It’s a trap. But that’s the trap Bachelet had to fall into. “

Bachelet is expected to report to the media on his trip in the coming days.

Experts said her reputation, as well as the UN’s ability to investigate human rights abuses, depends on her long-delayed report on Xinjiang. Complicating its role is a broader direction, set by Guterres, to keep China with the UN in the fight against climate change.

“The real thing will be the kind of report that comes up,” said Anjali Dayal, a UN expert at Fordham University in New York.

Dayal added that while it is characteristic that UN investigators “do not get a complete picture”, Bachelet’s choice of sources and “efforts to oppose” Beijing will reveal the degree of independence of her office, or its absence.

“It is inevitable in her role that she seems to take the government seriously, even if you do not plan to buy their story. . . The real measure of success will be whether or not she can issue a report documenting things beyond what she has shown by the government, ”she said.

Diplomats, however, complained that the UN had not taken a firmer line against Xi over Xinjiang amid growing Chinese influence over the organization.

“China has a long history of wanting to persuade individuals and companies to engage in silent diplomacy, discussing human rights one-on-one rather than [UN] human rights councils or a series of meetings without media attention, ”said a senior Western diplomat in Beijing.

“There is very little evidence that this type of technique works, especially in terms of China’s key interests. Xinjiang is a key interest of China. ”

Additional reporting by Arjun Neil Alim of Beijing

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