China braces for ‘uninvited rhetoric’ at top UN rights body

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GENEVA (AP) — A Chinese ambassador said Friday his country is ready for any “undesirable or uninvited rhetoric” on issues like Hong Kong unrest or government detention centers in the Xinjiang region as the U.N.’s top human rights body meets for three weeks starting Monday.

Chen Xu, China’s envoy to U.N. institutions in Geneva, also insisted that Beijing doesn’t believe that the Human Rights Council is the “right venue” to discuss issues like the protests in Hong Kong.

He said the government’s response was about maintaining law and order.

At the last council session in June, Hong Kong singer Denise Ho sharply criticized the Chinese government’s policies and handling of the protests, drawing interruptions from Chinese officials as she spoke at the invitation of one of many NGOs that are allowed to address the council.

Chen also repeated Beijing’s criticism of a joint letter issued by 22 Western countries during the last session calling on China to end mass arbitrary detentions and other violations against Uighurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

He said that tactic was not a “constructive approach” and pointed to a response letter issued days later — and now backed by some 50 countries — that defended China’s “remarkable achievements” in human rights. Among them were some key members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.

Rights groups have been critical of China’s detention centers for ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in western Xinjiang province. China’s government insists they are “vocational” centers aimed at training and skills development.

The council’s session runs through Sept. 27. Issues like human rights situations in Myanmar, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Yemen, Kashmir and Syria as well as Israeli policies in Palestinian areas are on the agenda.

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