Guterres calls on China to allow a “disguised” UN rights commissioner to visit

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed hope that China will allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to make a “disguised visit” to the country, including Xinjiang.

A United Nations statement said that Guterres – who met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Olympic Games in Beijing on Saturday – expected that contacts between Bachelet’s circles and the Chinese authorities would allow “a disguised visit by the High Commissioner to China, including Xinjiang”, where she accuses Beijing is violating the rights of the Muslim Uighur minority.

Bachelet has long sought to visit Xinjiang to investigate allegations of abuse against the Uighur minority. The issue has strained relations between Beijing and the West, with Washington accusing Beijing of genocide, and a US-led diplomatic boycott by some countries of the Winter Olympics.

Bachelet’s office in Geneva said last month that talks were underway about a possible visit to the northwestern region in the first half of the year.

Rights groups accuse China of widespread abuses against Uighurs and other minorities, including incidents of torture, forced labor and the detention of a million people in concentration camps.

China describes the camps as re-education and training facilities, denies abuses, and says it is fighting religious extremism.

At the end of January, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed his country’s “readiness” to receive Bachelet in China and Xinjiang, but Beijing still refuses for the United Nations to conduct any investigation in the aforementioned region, and considers that any visit should be “friendly.”

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