US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he was ”troubled by reports that residents of Xinjiang were warned not to complain or speak openly about conditions in the region, (and) that no insight was provided into the whereabouts of hundreds of missing Uyghurs and conditions for over a million individuals in detention,” slamming China’s efforts to restrict and manipulate UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s visit to Xinjiang.
Blinken Expressed concerns about a lack of independent assessment of the human rights environment in China, Blinken said “The High Commissioner should have been allowed confidential meetings with family members of Uyghur and other ethnic minority diaspora communities in Xinjiang who are not in detention facilities but are forbidden from travelling out of the region,” he added.
Calling it “a mistake to agree to a visit under the circumstances”, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that China will use her trip as an endorsement of its rights record.
Bachelet’s high profile and rare visit to Xinjiang was criticised by rights groups and Western countries as they believe it lacked transparency.
Urging Beijing to review its counter-terrorism policies to ensure they comply with international human rights standards, Bachelet sided with the dragon and reiterated that her six-day visit to Xinjiang was not an investigation into China’s human rights policies but an opportunity to engage with the government.
During an online press briefing, she said “I have raised questions and concerns about the application of counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures under broad application, particularly the impact on the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.”
As warned by Washington earlier, Bachelet’s access was limited as China arranged for her to travel in a “closed loop”. With no foreign press present, China said it isolated people within a virtual bubble to prevent the spread of COVID-19.