UN rights chief probes Xinjiang crackdown

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China’s crackdown on Muslim minorities in the remote region of Xinjiang will return to the spotlight next week when Beijing hosts the United Nations (UN) human rights chief for the first time in nearly two decades.,The highly scrutinized six-day trip by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet will begin Monday, with stops in the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar in Xinjiang, as well as Guangzhou in southern China, the UN announced Friday.,Bachelet will meet “a number of high-level officials,” her office said, adding that she would “also meet with civil society organizations, business representatives, academics and deliver a lecture to students at Guangzhou University.”,But hopes of a thorough investigation into rights abuses have given way to concern among rights advocates that the ruling Communist Party will use the visit to whitewash its alleged atrocities.,China is accused of incarcerating one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in detention camps in the far-western region in a years-long security crackdown that the United States and other countries have called a “genocide.”,Beijing has vociferously denied genocide allegations, calling them the “lie of the century” and arguing that its policies have countered extremism and improved livelihoods.,Bachelet will meet virtually with heads of foreign missions on Monday before visiting Xinjiang on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to diplomatic sources in Beijing.,The visit to China is the first by the UN’s top human rights official since 2005, when Beijing was keen to soften its global image as it prepared to host the 2008 Olympics.,Since 2018, UN officials have been locked in negotiations with the Chinese government to secure “unfettered, meaningful access” to Xinjiang before the trip was announced in March.,Instead, campaigners fear that Bachelet will get a stage-managed tour that sidelines key issues.