Xinjiang, UN, China discussed on All Things Considered


Things considered from NPR news The UN's top official for human rights Michelle Bachelet is in China this week and we'll visit the western region of Xinjiang The U.S. and others have accused the Chinese government of genocide and crimes against humanity for the way that Muslim minorities have been treated there And as the UN commissioners trip was starting a rights group outside China posted a huge trove of photos and data online purportedly hacked from Chinese police computers in Xinjiang They say it highlights the extent of the persecution there And Pierre China fares correspondent John ruit is on the line now Hi John Hey Elsa So this UN trip to Xinjiang it's rare to see a trip like this right Yeah it is This one's been months in they've been months negotiations for this one on a long time coming because the last visit by a UN human rights high commissioner to China was 17 years ago This is going to be a fact finding trip bachelorette has reportedly told diplomats ahead of time that it's not going to be an investigation so she's managing expectations a bit there Remember the accusations are pretty grave right groups western governments estimate that more than a million Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang were detained in the name of preemptive counter terrorism Starting in around 2017 their accusations of forced labor forced sterilization that religious freedom has been sharply curtailed The Chinese government denies any of these abuses and says that Xinjiang is a prosperous secure and happy part of China Right the Chinese government continues to deny any abuses So given that do we know why China is even letting her in at this point Well China may hope that this is going to help promote the image that it's a responsible rule abiding member of the UN community And without a doubt the government is going to want the trip to support in a way its own argument that it hasn't done anything bad out in Xinjiang So it sounds like she might not be able to actually get a true sense of what's going on there Yes Xinjiang Xinjiang has always been a tough place to report from There's lots of surveillance people are often reluctant to talk for their own security When the government is organized trips out there for reporters and others they've been aggressively stage managed You know on top of that a bachelorette is going to be on an organized trip in a sensitive place and in a bubble in a COVID-19 bubble for her protection She's been criticized for going out there at all because of all these restrictions State Department spokesman Ned price said on Tuesday it was a mistake for her to go And with Human Rights Watch says there are legitimate concerns about what kind of access she'll get out there You know I don't think the high commissioners will be able to see what she should be seeing for such a visit and be able to talk to she should be talking to So the expectation should be low I mean I have to ask again what's the point of this visit if in the end Bachelet might not be able to operate freely or to get a true picture of what's even happening Yeah it's a valid question I mean Wong again from Human Rights Watch says there's still value in the trip you know bachelorette should attempt to meet dissidents in the family members of detained Uighurs when she's out there Whether she does or not she should you know if she should be transparent and vocal about what barriers she runs into if any And just real quick tell us a little bit about that police data done Well the group is called the victims of communism memorial foundation They posted online what they call the Xinjiang police files it's thousands of photos there are other documents And they say they show that Beijing has been lying about the rights violations out in Xinjiang China's foreign ministry says it's just the latest example of anti China forces trying to spread lies and smear Xinjiang That is Ampere's John ritch Thank you John Anytime You're listening to all things considered from NPR news It's 5 49 This is 90.1 W ABE Emil Moffat.

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