UN human rights chief to inspect Xinjiang

The UN human rights chief will travel to China next week to visit the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, or OHCHR, said Friday that High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet will pay an official visit to China from May 23-28.

This will be the first visit to China by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2005.

OHCHR said Bachelet would travel to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, and Kashgar in southern Xinjiang. The office added that she would meet with Chinese government officials and business representatives.

She is expected to make a statement at a press conference on May 28, the last day of her visit.

Western nations are concerned about allegations of forced labor and other violations targeting the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has always denied the allegations of abuse.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that Bachelet’s visit will be fruitful.

But observers say the success of the mission hinges on Beijing’s ability to allow the UN to move unhindered in Xinjiang.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed serious doubts about Bachelet’s planned visit during a press conference call on Friday.

Price said the US government “does not expect the Chinese government to grant the access necessary to conduct a comprehensive and unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang.”

He added that for months the United States has asked the High Commissioner to release a report by his staff detailing the situation in Xinjiang, but it is still not available.

Price added that “the High Commissioner’s continued silence in the face of indisputable evidence of atrocities in Xinjiang” is deeply concerning.