BEIJING, 07 FEBRUARY 2022 (INSIDE THE GAMES)—United Nations secretary general António Guterres expects the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be able to conduct a “credible visit” to Xinjiang, after meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping alongside the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Guterres met with Xi and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, with a readout published following the talks.
Guterres is among UN officials to have faced criticism for attending the Games, with human rights campaigners having claimed his presence in the Chinese capital would “undermine” the UN and would be a “kick in the teeth for all human rights defenders”.
The UN secretary general congratulated China “for the organisation of the Games and thanked the Chinese authorities for their warm hospitality”, according to the readout.
“The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for China’s strong support to the United Nations and multilateralism”, it continued.
“He also expressed the wish for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and the People’s Republic of China in all the pillars of the Organization’s work – peace and security, sustainable development, including climate change and biodiversity, and human rights.”
The penultimate paragraph of the statement referenced the potential visit to Xinjiang.
“The Secretary-General also expressed his expectation that the contacts between the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chinese authorities will allow for a credible visit of the High Commissioner to China, including Xinjiang,” the readout said.
The office of Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reportedly said last month that conversations had been held over a possible trip to Xinjiang in the first half of this year.
The potential visit has been billed as an opportunity for a foreign official to scrutinise alleged violations of human rights in the region.
China has faced accusations of using forced Uyghur labour, operating a mass surveillance programme, detaining thousands in internment camps, carrying out forced sterilisations and intentionally destroying Uyghur heritage in the Xinjiang region.
Beijing has claimed the camps are training centres for stamping out Islamist extremism and separatism.
The alleged human rights abuses have led to a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022 by countries including the United States and sparked widespread international concern.
The Xinjiang region is where China has been accused of committing a “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims.
China has allowed visits to Xinjiang from journalists and diplomats in recent years, but they have taken place under tightly-controlled conditions.
China’s treatment of the Uyghur population came under further attention during the Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony.
Cross-country skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a Uyghur from Xinjiang, joined Nordic combined athlete Zhao Jiawen in lighting a small Flame that was placed inside a large snowflake at the National Stadium.
Beijing 2022 has claimed Yilamujiang’s selection was part of a concept that saw seven Chinese athletes from six different decades from the 1950s to the 2000s chosen as the final Olympic Torch Relay runners.
The decision to select Dinigeer has, however, been seen as sending a political message to Governments which decided to shun the Games….PACNEWS