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UN rights boss welcome in China, including Xinjiang, envoy says

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China’s envoy in Geneva, Chen Xu, on Thursday said he hoped UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet would visit China, including Xinjiang.

He said, “education training centres” were helping to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.

China has been condemned internationally for setting up complexes in the remote western region of Xinjiang that UN experts describe as mass detention centres holding over 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

Bachelet, a former president of Chile, has repeatedly pushed China to grant the UN access to investigate reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly of Muslims in Xinjiang.

“We hope to see the high commissioner pay a visit to China including a trip to Xinjiang to see by herself, seeing is believing.

“The invitation to the high commissioner is always there, we hope to define a time which is convenient to both sides,” Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told a news conference.

According to Chen, what happened in Xinjiang is vocational education training centres help young people, especially young people, to get skills, to be well-equipped for their reintegration into society.

“There are no so-called re-education camps.

“Bachelet’s approach was one of dialogue and cooperation,” he said, contrasting this with that of her predecessor Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.

Spokeswoman Marta Hurtado said in an email response said that the high commissioner has been invited to visit China.

“We are continuing to discuss with the government for full access.

“We can also confirm that she met with China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva this week,” Hurtado said.

Hurtado, asked whether China had offered access to Xinjiang, replied: “At this point, we are still discussing with the authorities.”

Louise Arbour was the last UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit China, in September 2005.

China has previously said it would welcome UN officials if they avoided “interfering in domestic matters”.

Activists have called for the UN Human Rights Council, which opens its next three-week session on June 24, to hold China to account for alleged violations in Xinjiang.

The 47-member state forum has never adopted a resolution on China.

Chinese vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, addressing the UN Human Rights Council in March, defended the complexes in Xinjiang and said the “campuses” would be closed down gradually as extremist ideology was vanquished in the region.

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