China on offensive at UN rights council over Xinjiang

By: AFP
Published: 08:43 PM, 14 Sep, 2022
China on offensive at UN rights council over Xinjiang
Caption: China wrapped up a two-day offensive at the UN on Wednesday against a report listing violations in its Xinjiang region, as Western countries remain uncertain on how to respond.
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China wrapped up a two-day offensive at the UN on Wednesday against a report listing violations in its Xinjiang region, as Western countries remain uncertain on how to respond.

Beijing has made no secret of its displeasure with the long-delayed UN report, which warns of possible crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.

At the UN Human Rights Council this week it has strived to show it has broad backing for its criticism, presenting a joint statement by nearly two dozen countries and with multiple pro-Beijing groups taking the floor in its defence.

The report, which was published on August 31, was "based on disinformation and draws erroneous conclusions", Chinese ambassador Chen Xu said Tuesday, presenting the joint statement.

"We are deeply worried that it will undermine dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights, and exaggerate the existing trend of politicisation and polarisation at the Human Rights Council," he added.

The report brought UN endorsement to long-running allegations by campaigners and others, who accuse Beijing of a litany of abuses in Xinjiang, including detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslims, and forcibly sterilising women.

- 'Sinister intention' -

Beijing has rejected such charges, insisting it is running vocational training centres in the region to counter extremism.

Western countries and their allies appear to agree action in the UN rights council is warranted, and face pressure from rights groups to present a resolution condemning the alleged violations or even ordering an investigation.

A "council priority should be the urgent establishment of an independent, international investigation on the situation in Xinjiang", Amnesty International chief Agnes Callamard told the council via video link.

But fears abound that a failed resolution would signal a shifting power balance and weaken the council.

During the two days of general debate at the council that ended Wednesday, dozens of countries raised concerns about Xinjiang, but there was no sign yet they were moving towards joint action.

Chinese diplomat Mao Yizong insisted to the council Wednesday that the joint statement a day earlier proved that "any attempt to smear and discredit China through human rights issues is doomed to fail".

And he charged that the United States, Britain and other Western countries had "manipulated and pressured (the UN rights office) in the issue of the so-called assessment of Xinjiang to attack China".

They had, he said, "betrayed their sinister intention to contain China through lies about Xinjiang".

At least four separate pro-China non-governmental organisations -- sometimes referred to as Gongos, or governmental non-governmental organisations -- came to Beijing's defence.

The China NGO Network for International Exchanges for instance decried that the UN rights office had published "a groundless report on Xinjiang, which maliciously discredited the human rights condition" in the region.

And a representative of the Chinese Association for International Understanding said she herself was a happy graduate of a vocational training centre in Xinjiang, insisting that allegations of sexual abuse and forced sterilisation were "totally nonsense".

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.