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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guangzhou, southern China’ on Monday. Photo: Xinhua

China’s Wang Yi urges UN rights envoy to ‘clarify misinformation’

  • Chinese foreign minister says some anti-China forces use human rights issues to try to suppress the country
  • The human rights commissioner has moved to manage expectations in video call with Beijing-based diplomats
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told UN envoy Michelle Bachelet that Beijing hopes her visit will help “clarify misinformation” about its human rights record.

Wang met the human rights commissioner at the start of her six-day trip and blasted “some countries and anti-China forces” for spreading “false information” and “vilifying China with slanderous attacks”, according to a report by state news agency Xinhua.

“Their purpose is to use human rights issues as excuses to suppress China and to politicise and weaponise the human rights issue,” said Wang, during the meeting on Monday in Guangzhou, southern China.

The meeting with Wang was Bachelet’s first with a Chinese leader during her visit. The human rights commissioner and her delegation will also travel to Xinjiang in China’s northwest and Beijing.

What is going on in Xinjiang and who are the Uygur people?

Wang said the UN should promote cooperation instead of confrontation, based on the principle of mutual respect and equal treatment, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.

“Multilateral human rights institutions should serve as a major venue for cooperation and dialogue rather than a new battlefield for division and confrontation,” he said.

Wang also stressed that China “made the protection of citizens’ legitimate rights and interests its basic task”, adding that “safeguarding the rights of ethnic minorities was an important part of its work”.


Bloomberg reported that Bachelet also held a video call on Monday with about 100 mostly Beijing-based, Western diplomats, telling them her visit would not be an “investigation”, in an apparent attempt to manage expectations of the trip.

Bloomberg said Bachelet told the diplomats on the call that setting high expectations would lead to disappointment. According to the report, she was addressing concerns raised during the conversation over whether she would be granted unfettered access to Xinjiang.


How China is losing the information war to the West | Wang Huiyao on Talking Post with Yonden Lhatoo

How China is losing the information war to the West | Wang Huiyao on Talking Post with Yonden Lhatoo

The UN quoted Bachelet as telling Wang 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,” Bachelet was quoted as saying.

China has been widely accused of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang, especially against members of the Uygur ethnic community and other Muslim groups. Beijing has vehemently denied the accusations, saying they are lies to smear the country.


On Tuesday, supporters of two Guangzhou-based activists, Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing, who have been detained for more than eight months, called on the commissioner to look into their cases. According to the activists’ friends, authorities have not indicated on what charges the pair were held since they disappeared last September.

“We call on Madam Bachelet to meet Xueqin and Jianbing during the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) official visit to China. We urge you not to let the long-delayed official visit become complicit [in] the propaganda of the Chinese government,” the supporters said on Twitter.


The last time a UN high commissioner for human rights visited China was in 2005, when Louise Arbour spent a week in the country.

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday that both sides agreed there would be no reporters accompanying Bachelet during the visit.

Additional reporting by Associated Press