The High Commissioner of UN for Human Rights, Michelle Bacheletmet this Monday with the head of Chinese diplomacy at the beginning of a six-day visit to this country in which he will travel to Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of persecuting the Uyghur minority.

This is the first time in almost two decades that a UN human rights authority visits the Asian country.

“I look forward to the exchanges that I will have with various different people during my visit. I will deal with some very important and sensitive issues. I hope this will help us build trust,” Bachelet said, in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. .

Bachelet held telematic meetings with the owners of some 70 foreign missions in Chinaaccording to diplomatic sources, who said that the High Commissioner gave guarantees of their access to detention centers and defenders of freedoms.

China has been accused of imprisoning a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, which the United States and other countries have called “genocide.”

Beijing has rejected that qualification and called it “the lie of the century”, while assuring that its policies have made it possible to combat extremism and improve life in the area.

The spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, welcomed Bachelet on Monday and said that both parties have decided that there are no reporters during their meetings and trips through the country.

Bachelet is scheduled to meet with Chinese leaders and “have extensive exchanges with people from various sectors,” Wang added, without elaborating.

Bachelet’s six-day trip includes visits to the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar in Xinjiang, as well as southern Guangzhou.

Since 2018, UN authorities have held talks with the Chinese government to secure “unlimited and relevant access” to Xinjiang before the trip was announced in March.

On the contrary, activists fear that Bachelet will have a controlled visit that will avoid key issues.

Hopes of a full investigation into human rights abuses have been dashed by activists’ concern that China’s ruling Communist Party will use the visit to cover up alleged atrocities.

With hundreds of thousands detained and numerous mosques closed or destroyed, Xinjiang authorities seem to have turned their focus in recent years to economic development, according to academics and Uyghurs outside China.

“Now there is not much visible evidence of repression,” said Peter Irwin of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Human rights groups have warned that state surveillance and fear of reprisals will prevent Uyghurs at the site from speaking freely to the UN team.


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