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China's foreign minister meets UN rights official as she opens Xinjiang trip

CHINA'S foreign minister met with the UN's top human rights official on her visit to the country and told her that China opposes imposing double standards on human rights.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Michelle Bachelet in the southern city of Guangzhou on Monday as she started a trip that is the first to China by a UN high commissioner for human rights since 2005.

Her six-day, fact-finding visit is focused on allegations of abuses against Muslim minorities in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

The US and Uighur separatist organisations have accusdd China of locking up over a million Uighur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities in what critics describe as cultural genocide. 

However, China says it has nothing to hide and welcomes all those without political bias to visit Xinjiang and view what it describes as a successful campaign to fight terrorism and restore order and ethnic cohesion. It dismisses Western claims on the numbers detained as wild exaggerations.

From Guangzhou, Ms Bachelet will travel to Kashgar and Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital. The UN and China barred foreign media from accompanying Ms Bachelet throughout her visit.

The UN quoted Ms Bachelet as telling Mr Wang that she was looking forward to exchanges with “many different people during my visit, particularly with government officials, business leaders, academics, students and members of the civil society working on human rights and other social and economic issues.

“While we will be discussing sensitive and important issues, I hope this will help us to build confidence and enable us to work together in advancing human rights in China and globally,” she said.

China’s foreign ministry said: “Mr Wang noted that to advance the international cause of human rights, we must first, respect each other and refrain from politicising human rights.

“Multilateral human rights institutions should serve as a major venue for co-operation and dialogue rather than a new battlefield for division and confrontation."

The ministry later accused Britain, the US and other Western countries of orchestrating criticism of Ms Bachelet's trip.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said: “They have first openly pressured and strongly demanded that the high commissioner visit China and Xinjiang, and conducted the so-called investigation with presumption of guilt.”

Now they have, he said, “jumped out and spared no effort to disrupt and sabotage the visit, creating conditions and obstacles.”

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