13.06.2022 Author: Vladimir Terehov

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet visits PRC

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In light of the current stage of the “Great Game,” which has already brought humanity to the brink of a nearly global catastrophe, what significance does the week-long trip (outwardly a purely “humanitarian” one) to China at the end of May by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet hold?

As it turns out, the aforementioned “significance” isn’t only present, but is being observed on a very significant scale. This is evidenced by the most varied attention paid to this event by leading regional players, and above all by the United States, where the very “observance of human rights” (OHR) has long been (but in recent years more and more intensively) used as an extremely important tool in the fight against the nation’s main geopolitical opponents, in this case the People’s Republic of China.

It should once again be noted that practically the main violator of human rights, who clearly showed itself in this capacity in the Greater Middle East region, for instance, is now some sort of a guardian (as well as an interpreter of the content) of those rights. And although hypocrisy has always been present in the politics of all of today’s leading players, its current scale unwittingly provokes a question: What sort of time is humanity living through today?

The very fact of Michelle Bachelet’s arrival in China caused a commotion in the camp of the said “guardian.” Since the long (over the past 17 years) absence of representatives of the main international human rights organization in this country was presented as strong evidence that “Beijing has something to hide” in terms of human rights observance. And in recent years, Washington has quite definitely pointed where and what exactly the People’s Republic of China is “hiding,”

with the US Congress especially zealous in this regard. A continuous series of legislative acts have been passed calling on the country’s own government and the “international community” to focus on human rights “violations,” mainly in two autonomous regions of the PRC, namely Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Michelle Bachelet’s opportunity to visit XUAR, which was given by the Chinese leadership, is an important piece of evidence that she herself and the organization she heads do not want to be an instrument in someone’s (not very honest) political games.

But the opposite impression could be formed from some of her previous actions, for instance, regarding the Kashmir issue. Yet, Michelle Bachelet’s activity in this last endeavor met with a rather harsh rebuff by India’s leadership. Let us note, by the way, that someone in the United States (due to zeal beyond measure or even malicious intent) considered it possible to press a hot-button issue in India, one of which is due to the Kashmir problem. This confused the cards of the American leadership in terms of India.

The term “genocide” is how the United States defines Beijing’s general policy in XUAR, and in particular those aspects that affect the production of cotton (a key sector of the autonomous region’s economy), as well as the problem of combating extreme forms of separatism in the guise of terrorist acts carried out by armed groups of Uyghur militants.

It is impossible not to note the careful consistency of the phrase “forced labor on cotton plantations,” which in the United States could unwittingly provoke associations with the relatively recent slave labor of African Americans in the nation’s southern states. Judging by the published photographs of plantations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, however, no one at all appears in their vast expanses and only combines are observed – operated by the very same Uyghurs, apparently making good money via “forced” labor. The same Uyghurs form the core of the special forces that are (very successfully) fighting terrorist groups.

It should be noted that the Chinese leadership pays priority attention to the comprehensive development of the nation’s autonomous regions, where, for instance, the rate of economic growth over the past two or three decades has noticeably exceeded the impressive economic growth of the country as a whole. The implementation of infrastructure projects in the very same Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region this year will be supported by a record volume of investments.

All this is not taken into account by Washington, who, using tried-and-true “sanctions” methods, is waging a very specific fight against a key opponent. here, the fight is connected with the “problem” of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The above sanctions hit not only international brands that tried to sew clothes from cotton produced in this autonomous region, but also industries with no ties to the “forced” labor on the said plantations fall.

In particular, the import of solar panels produced in XUAR is difficult. That is, obstacles are even put in the way of implementing measures in the “green energy” industry so fashionable in the United States.  On May 27, German Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck announced that the country’s government was withdrawing guarantees for the investments by the auto giant Volkswagen in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the assembly plant built by the company has been operating for about ten years. There can hardly be any doubt who’s really behind this decision, forcing one of Germany’s leading companies to actually leave the very profitable Chinese market. The decision was adopted (all under the same pretext of “violating generally accepted norms” in terms of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) during Michelle Bachelet’s stay in the PRC.

On May 28, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “concern” both about Michelle Bachelet’s visit to China and the “intention” of its leadership to “limit and manipulate the visit” of their guest. The head of the American foreign policy department, however, expressed a wary attitude towards her visit to China, as they say, after the fact, simply because it was impossible not to notice this remarkable act by a key geopolitical opponent.

Yet, Michelle Bachelet herself did not find any signs of “restrictions” during her trip to XUAR. She and members of her delegation had the chance to meet and talk with representatives of all those segments of the population against whom, according to professional “human rights activists,” acts of “genocide” are allegedly being carried out. The positive attitude by the PRC’s leadership towards Michelle Bachelet’s activities was demonstrated by the (video) meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Bachelet.

In her final press conference, Michelle Bachelet drew attention to two points. First, it was emphasized that the visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was not an “investigation” and, second, it was noted that the initiators of the meeting formats with residents of this autonomous region of the PRC, as well as the approvers of the composition of the participants were the members of the delegation themselves.

As for the overall assessment of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ trip to the People’s Republic of China, its main result was to put a considerable hole in the side of the American propaganda ship, aimed at fighting the country’s main geopolitical opponents.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

 


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