There’s no ‘utopia’, no need to lecture on rights, Xi Jinping tells UN human rights chief

According to a readout issued by the Chinese government, Bachelet told Xi Jinping that she admires China for ‘protecting human rights’ among other achievements including eliminating poverty and upholding multilateralism
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet (left) attending a virtual meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, in Guangzhou. (AFP)
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet (left) attending a virtual meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, in Guangzhou. (AFP)
Updated on May 25, 2022 06:56 PM IST
Copy Link

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping defended China’s record in a meeting with UN’s top human rights official on Wednesday, saying there is no “flawless utopia” and criticised countries that lecture others on human rights and politicise the issue.

“When it comes to human rights issues, there is no such thing as a flawless utopia; countries do not need patronising lecturers, still less should human rights issues be politicised and used as a tool to apply double standards, or as a pretext to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” Xi told UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet who is on a six-day China tour, in a meeting via videolink.

In a statement issued by Bachelet’s office, she is quoted as saying, “I have been committed to undertaking this visit - the first visit by a UN Human Rights High Commissioner to China in 17 years - because for me, it is a priority to engage with the Government of China directly, on human rights issues, domestic, regional and global. For development, peace and security to be sustainable - locally and across borders - human rights have to be at their core.

“China has a crucial rule to play within multilateral institutions in confronting many of the challenges currently facing the world, including threats to international peace and security, instability in the global economic system, inequality, climate change and more. I look forward to deepening our discussions on these and other issues, and hope my office can accompany efforts to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights, justice and the rule of law for all without exception.”

Xi and Bachelet’s meeting comes in the backdrop of fresh allegations of systemic abuse carried out by the Chinese government against the minority Muslim UIghurs in Xinjiang.

Bachelet’s tour will take her to Urumqi and Kashgar in Xinjiang this week, a visit, rights activists fear will be a carefully orchestrated one that will be used as a propaganda tool by the government.

Beijing is accused of detaining more than a million UIghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as part of a years-long crackdown, labelled as a “genocide” by the US.

Beijing has denied the allegations.

Xi did not mention by name either Xinjiang or Tibet, where also the government is accused of attempting to subsume the distinct local culture and language in the broader Chinese identity, but said China is following its own national conditions.

“Through long-term and persistent hard work, China has successfully embarked on a path of human rights development that conforms to the trend of the times and suits its own national conditions,” he told Bachelet, a two-time former President of Chile.

Many aren’t convinced whether individual countries can follow their own version of human rights ignoring international standards.

“The world is watching the high commissioner’s trip to China, which is a critical opportunity to address the ongoing severe atrocity crimes in Xinjiang. The survivors and victims of atrocities are awaiting the outcome of the trip,” Alkan Akad of Amnesty International told Hindustan Times.

The latest allegations of abuse in Xinjiang, collated by several western media houses under the title “Xinjiang Police Files” include photographs of thousands of Uighurs detained between January and July 2018 in prisons or in “re-education camps”: The youngest was just 15 years old at the time of her detention, the eldest was 73.

According to the BBC, one document says that, in the event of an attempted escape, the camp’s armed police “strike group” must fire a warning shot, and if the “student” continues to try to escape, to shoot them dead.

Beijing maintains the camps are vocational training institutes, also meant to de-radicalise extremists.


    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Other places from which Google will not store location data include fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, and weight loss clinics.

    Google to delete user location history on US abortion clinic visits

    "If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit," Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president at Google, wrote in a blog post. "This change will take effect in the coming weeks."

  • Professor Ajay Agrawal, who was honoured with the Order of Canada in the 2022 list. (Credit: University of Toronto)

    Two Indo-Canadian academics honoured with Order of Canada

    Two Indo-Canadian academics, working on research to advance the betterment of mankind, have been honoured with one of the country's most prestigious awards, the Order of Canada. Their names were in the list published by the office of the governor-general of Canada Mary Simon. Both have been invested (as the bestowal of the awards is described) into the Order as a Member. They are professors Ajay Agrawal and Parminder Raina.

  • SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk.

    Elon Musk's Twitter hiatus, in 2nd week now,  generates curiosity 

    The world's richest person, Elon Musk, has not tweeted in about 10 days and it can't go unnoticed. The 51-year-old business tycoon has 100 million followers on the microblogging site, which he is planning to buy. Since April, he has been making headlines for the $44 billion deal and his comments and concerns about the presence of a large number of fake accounts on Twitter.

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard at a news conference about a new command of hijab by Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    Taliban's reclusive supreme leader attends gathering in Kabul: Report

    The Taliban's reclusive supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada joined a large gathering of nationwide religious leaders in Kabul on Friday, the state news agency said, adding he would give a speech. The Taliban's state-run Bakhtar News Agency confirmed the reclusive leader, who is based in the southern city of Kandahar, was attending the meeting of more than 3,000 male participants from around the country, aimed at discussing issues of national unity.

  • James Topp, a Canadian Forces veteran who marched across Canada protesting against the Covid-19 vaccines mandates, speaks to supporters as he arrives at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial ahead of Canada Day in Ottawa, Ontario, on Thursday. (REUTERS)

    July 1: Canada to mark 155th anniversary of its formation

    As the country prepares to celebrate the 155th anniversary of the formation of the Canadian Confederation, Canada Day, the traditional centre of festivities, Parliament Hill in Ottawa, will be off limits as protesters linked to the Freedom Convoy begin gathering in the capital for the long weekend. Various events have been listed by protesters including a march to Parliament Hill on Friday.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, July 03, 2022