‘We’re ready for the fight’: China ramps up response to Xinjiang report as pressure mounts on Human Rights Council

A delegation of Xinjiang officials at a press conference at Palais des Nations on 22 September, 2022. (Credit: Geneva Solutions/ML)

Xinjiang authorities in Geneva said that they would “adopt proper counter-measures” if western states tabled a proposal on China at the Human Rights Council.

A spokesperson for the Xinjiang government has said China is “ready for the fight” if action is taken against the country at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva over its human rights record in the region.

Addressing reporters at the UN’s European headquarters on Thursday, Xi Guixiang said that the country was readying “counter-measures” following reports that a group of countries are considering taking action against China at the forum.

The government delegation is in Geneva to counter-argue the report of former UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, on rights violations committed against the Uyghur muslim and other minorities in Xinjiang.

During a two-hour press conference, the officials denied accusations of discrimination, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment, saying that Bachelet’s assessment “cannot be further from the facts”.

The document, which was presented on 31 August, concluded that some of the widespread abuses could amount to possible “crimes against humanity”.

Guixiang accused the United States and its western allies of “politicising human rights” and said that China “wasn’t afraid” of any proposals that might emerge at the Human Rights Council, which is meeting in Geneva.

Raphael Viana David, Asia programme manager for the International Service of Human Rights (ISHR), said that the visit of the delegation is “a part of China’s wide range of tactics to demonstrate diplomatic support for their own position and to coerce their diplomatic allies into showing support”.

Pressure is mounting on western countries to respond to the damning report and present a resolution requesting for further action on the human rights situation in Xinjiang. But there is fear that the proposal would not get enough votes to pass.

Viana said that there were “strong expectations” on states to act but that the clock was ticking as next Wednesday is the last day to present a proposal.

“We’ve never had this degree of political momentum, interest and concern to allow for a resolution on China,” he said, adding that “states should act regardless of the outcome because it is their moral responsibility”.