Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday defended his country’s human rights record, telling a visiting UN official that there was “no need for ‘preachers’ to lead other country”.
Xi’s remarks, made during a video call with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, are likely to add to the controversy surrounding a trip that critics say risks becoming a propaganda tool for Beijing.
Bachelet, who arrived in China on Monday for a six-day tour, is expected to visit the far-western region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government faces charges of mass internment, forced assimilation, forced labor and sterilization. forced against Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim minorities.
Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations.
But the trip – the first by a UN human rights chief to China since 2005 – has been hampered by questions over Bachelet’s access and freedom to speak with locals without supervision, which raised fears that this could jeopardize the credibility of his office.
On Wednesday, Xi told Bachelet that China’s human rights development “suits its own national conditions.”
“On the issue of human rights, no country is perfect, there is no need for ‘preachers’ to lead other countries, much less should they politicize the issue, practice double standards or using it as an excuse to interfere in other countries’ “internal affairs,” Xi was quoted as saying by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
According to CCTV, Bachelet said she admires China for its “efforts and achievements in eradicating poverty, protecting human rights and achieving economic and social development.”
“I attach great importance to this visit and cherish it. I will have many contacts and direct communication with the Chinese government and people from all walks of life. I believe this visit will help me understand China better.” , she said.
CCTV’s reading of their meeting did not mention Xinjiang. CNN has reached out to Bachelet for comment.
Bachelet is expected to visit the cities of Kashgar and Urumqi in Xinjiang, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The ministry said its trip would be a ‘closed loop’, meaning its delegation will be isolated inside a ‘bubble’ to contain the potential spread of Covid-19, and no international journalists will be allowed in. to travel with her.
“We do not expect (China) to grant the necessary access to conduct a comprehensive and unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang,” the spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday. of the US State Department Ned Price.
“We believe it was a mistake to accept a visit under these circumstances,” Price said, adding that Bachelet would not be able to get a full picture “of atrocities, crimes against humanity and genocide. ” In the region.
In a statement on Monday, Amnesty International said Bachelet was to “address crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations” during his trip.
“Michelle Bachelet’s long-delayed visit to Xinjiang is a critical opportunity to address human rights abuses in the region, but it will also be an uphill battle against the Chinese government’s efforts to cover up the truth,” he said. the secretary general of the organization, Agnes Callamard.
“The UN must take steps to mitigate this and resist being used to support blatant propaganda.”
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Additional Reuters reporting.