tirsdag 31. mai 2022

Bachelet’s Xinjiang visit is emblematic of the growing divide between China and the west

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s six-day trip to China began with some controversy, and ended with even more. On Saturday, western journalists left the virtual press conference without satisfying answers. Some complained Bachelet had dwelled too much on the US’s human rights problems but not China’s.

Knowing a top envoy from the UN would be restrained in her tone and delivery, Beijing took the occasion to say Bachelet’s trip was an opportunity “to observe and experience first-hand the real Xinjiang”. State media claimed that Bachelet had expressed “admiration” for China’s progress on human rights, only to be met with the UN’s own statement denying she had ever said it.

Bachelet’s office has been measured and diplomatic in approaching a significant player in the UN system such as China in public, and they knew their words matter. Weeks before her trip took place, her spokespeople told eager foreign journalists that “we do not have journalists as part of the delegation … as that can affect our ability to hold frank and open discussions with various stakeholders”.