Yoshihide- UN seeking visit to Xinjiang without any restrictions, United States News & Top Stories
MONTREAL • The United Nations is in negotiations with Beijing for a visit “without restrictions” to Xinjiang to see how the Uighur minority is being treated, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.
At least one million Uighurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in the north-western Chinese region, according to United States and Australian rights groups. They accuse the Chinese authorities of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour on these groups.
China has repeatedly bridled at Western criticism of its treatment of these groups. “A serious negotiation is… taking place between the Office of the (UN Human Rights) Commissioner and the Chinese authorities,” Mr Guterres told Canada’s CBC television network on Sunday.
“I hope that they will reach an agreement soon (to allow a visit) without restrictions or limitations,” he added. Mr Guterres said the Chinese had repeatedly affirmed to him “that they want that mission to take place”.
Beijing last Saturday announced sanctions against two Americans, a Canadian and a rights advocacy body that had criticised its treatment of the Uighurs, which American officials have said constitutes genocide.
Mr Guterres said he was also following with concern the fate of two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – who are being held in China on charges of espionage, allegedly as reprisal for the arrest and continued detention in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, an executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
The UN chief also told CBC: “Our position has been very clear that in all situations of this kind, there must be due process and full respect for the human rights of the people involved.”
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday that the views of human rights held by some Western countries do not represent those of the international community. He made the remarks in a meeting with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi.
The visiting Chinese Foreign Minister said that the situation of a country’s human rights should be judged by its people, rather than other countries’ opinions.
“The world should listen to and absorb the views of developing countries so that the definition of human rights will be more comprehensive, diverse and balanced,” Mr Wang said.
In a related development, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has come under pressure to join other major democracies in imposing sanctions on China over human rights violations as he prepares for his first face-to-face summit with US President Joe Biden.
While Japan has long resisted placing economic penalties on its largest trading partner, some in Mr Suga’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party are calling for him to take a more radical line, particularly with the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Britain coming up in June.
“Japan is the only G-7 country not taking part in the sanctions,” said Mr Gen Nakatani, a former defence minister who co-chairs a cross-party group of lawmakers on China policy.
“It’s shameful for Japan to be seen as a country that’s pretending not to know what’s going on,” he added.
Canada, Britain and the European Union have passed their own versions of the US Magnitsky Act, which allow governments to revoke visas and freeze the assets of people involved in human rights violations or corruption. Japan has no such law.
Mr Nakatani and other lawmakers, including Mr Shiori Yamao of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, want to enact similar legislation, or at least pass a resolution having the same effect.
REUTERS, XINHUA, BLOOMBERG