U.N. Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet will visit China next week, the foreign ministry said on Friday, making the first such visit since 2005and prompting fears among Western rights groups that it will be seen as an endorsement of China’s rights record.
The office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said earlier this week the trip would include a visit to farwestern Xinjiang, where the office believes ethnic Uyghurs have been unlawfully detained, mistreated and forced to work.
China has denied Western allegations of forced labour and genocide against Uyghurs and has warned other countries not to interfere in China’s domestic affairs by criticising its actions in Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch said on Friday that it and other rights groups had expressed concerns that the Chinese government would “manipulate the visit as a public relations stunt”.
Bachelet would also visit the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, but will not go to Beijing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the office said.
She will visit China from May 23-28, the first U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit China since Louise Arbour in 2005.