China defends its human rights record at UN meeting


China faced international criticism about its human rights record Thursday at a United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva. Criticism focused mainly on the country’s persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

While the council’s president, Omar Zniber, said China had accepted nearly 70% of more than 400 reform recommendations from U.N. members, Western countries contend that number is misleading.

Michele Taylor, the U.S. representative on the rights council, said Thursday that “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the region where many Uyghurs live, remain in effect.

China “has refused to take action amid consistent calls from the international community to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and has rejected numerous constructive recommendations,” Taylor said.

“China’s abuses constitute a rejection of U.N. assessments and recommendations and violate or undermine international commitments,” Taylor said.

The British representative, Simon Manley, told the meeting that China has rejected all of the U.K.’s recommendations.

“In doing so, the Chinese government has failed to acknowledge its serious human rights violations, and again tried to claim that [the U.N.’s] authoritative Xinjiang assessment is – and I quote – ‘illegal and void.’ It is neither,” Manley said.

Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said at the meeting, attended by a delegation of Chinese diplomats and officials, that recommendations rejected by China were “politically motivated based on disinformation, ideologically biased or interfering in China’s traditional sovereignty.” He condemned what he called an attempt to “smear and attack” China.

China has drawn much criticism over the years for its treatment and detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims. A 2022 U.N. report, published by former U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet, said China’s treatment of Uyghurs could constitute crimes against humanity, something China has consistently denied.

Thursday’s review of China’s human rights record before the Human Rights Council was the first since the publication of the 2022 report. Later that year, U.N. member states tried to talk about the report, but the move was voted down, mainly by non-Western countries, a measure that was seen as a victory for China, Reuters reports.

Each U.N. member state undergoes a review of its human rights record every few years.__VOA News