Chinese President Xi Jinping defended before the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michel Bachelet, that China must apply human rights at its own pace, and dispatched international criticism calling them “interference in its national policy.”
However, Xi assured that China respects this cause and accused other countries of politicizing it to attack China. “We have been fighting for the interests of our people for more than a hundred years. The human rights of the Chinese have unprecedented guarantees,” said the president. Xi further asserted that no one can have the arrogance to say how to uphold human rights, adding that the fundamental human right is to improve people’s lives.
Bachelet, who is in the middle of a six-day visit to different regions of the country, did not mention the recent leaks of documents showing human rights violations in the predominantly Uyghur region of Xinjian: mass arrests, forced re-education camps, control of the movements of the population, and even shoot-to-kill orders against anyone who wants to escape from these prisons. China has branded the documents libelous.
Several Western organizations and governments have questioned the usefulness of Bachelet’s visit, which takes place inside a “bubble” without contact with the outside -officially, due to the pandemic- and without access for the press.
Several NGOs have warned in recent weeks that China will not give Bachelet independent access to Xinjiang and expressed their fear that Beijing will use the visit for propaganda purposes.
In recent years, Beijing has faced numerous accusations that it has launched a massive campaign to arrest and deprive hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs of freedom with the argument of stopping the spread of jihadist ideas within that community, made up of by about 13 million people.
Beijing, which has sometimes described the accusations as “the lie of the century”, argues that it did not use re-education camps but rather “vocational training centers” as part of a program to improve the region’s economy and society, which has suffered in the last decades jihadist terrorist attacks.