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GENEVA, Feb 26 — China expects UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to visit the country this year, including its restive Xinjiang region, its ambassador in Geneva said today.
UN experts and activists say at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping to stamp out terrorism and extremism and give people new skills.
Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council that its “deradicalisation” measures had led to a “marked improvement in security and better protection of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang” where there had been “no single terror attack” for three years.
“Trainees” who graduated from its vocational training centres had found stable jobs and been re-integrated into society, Chen said. China rejected “unsubstantiated allegations” by some countries on the Xinjiang question, he added.
“We are looking forward to the visit of the High Commissioner, Mrs. Bachelet, to China including to Xinjiang this year, and we are working closely with her office on detailed arrangements for her visit,” Chen said.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in a speech to the forum on Monday, voiced concern at “the maltreatment of ethnic and religious minorities such as the Uighurs”.
Bachelet’s spokesman had no immediate comment on Chen’s remarks. The terms of country visits are usually negotiated to ensure free access to areas and alleged victims of abuse.
Bachelet, a former president of Chile, has repeatedly pushed China to grant the United Nations access to investigate reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly of Muslims in Xinjiang.
Louise Arbour was the last UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit China, in September 2005. — Reuters
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