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UN rights chief speaks with Xi during high-stakes China visit

UN rights chief speaks with Xi during high-stakes China visit
In this photo taken on May 24, 2022, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (second from left) holds a virtual meeting with Vice Minister Du Hangwei of the Ministry of Public Security, seen on screen at right, in Guangzhou, southern China's Guangdong Province. (Photo: OHCHR via AP)

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on Wednesday (May 25) by video with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who is on a visit that has drawn criticism from rights groups and which the United States has called a mistake.

While Bachelet's six-day trip will include a visit to the far western region of Xinjiang, where her office said last year it believes mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs have been unlawfully detained, mistreated and forced to work, there was no mention of it in a state media account of their video meeting.

Xi told Bachelet that China’s development of human rights "suits its own national conditions", and that among the various types of human rights, the rights to subsistence and development were primary for developing countries.

"Deviating from reality and copying wholesale the institutional model of other countries will not only fit badly with the local conditions, but also bring disastrous consequences," the Xinhua state news agency quoted Xi as saying.

"In the end, it is the broad masses of the people who will suffer," he said.

Critics have said they did not believe Bachelet would be granted necessary access to make a full assessment of the rights situation in Xinjiang.

Bachelet has called for unfettered access in Xinjiang, but China's foreign ministry has said her visit would be conducted in a "closed loop", referring to a way of isolating people within a "bubble" to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

China denies all abuses.

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was "a mistake to agree to a visit under the circumstances".

Source: Reuters/gr

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