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Western countries and China are waging a battle for influence over the UN Human Rights Council, with China pushing aggressively to block the organization from acting on its human rights abuses in Xinjiang this week.
The HRC will open on Monday for the first time since a UN report acknowledged abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang in late August. While China’s abuses against Uyghurs have been widely documented, the report was the first time the UN specifically investigated the issue.
Western democracies are considering a resolution condemning China and calling for further investigation, but China may have enough sway over the body to frustrate such a move, Reuters reported on Sunday.
“The developing world will reject all anti-China initiatives launched by Western countries,” China’s UN ambassador Chen Xu said last week. “Any type of anti-China effort is doomed to failure.”
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As an international organization, the HRC has little power to take action against sovereign states. Its role is generally to reach a consensus or to push for the opening of investigations.
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The United States has already called China’s actions in Xinjiang “genocide”, one of the few points of agreement between the administration of President Joe Biden and that of former President Donald Trump.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pushed for further action when the UN released its report on August 31.
“The United States welcomes…this important report, which authoritatively describes the abhorrent treatment of the human rights of Uyghurs and other minority communities by the government of the People’s Republic of China,” Jean-Pierre told reporters at the time. “The report deepens our grave concern about the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by China. Our position on the atrocities in Xinjiang has been clearly demonstrated by our words and in our actions.”
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China, meanwhile, maintains that the UN report is a fabrication and continues to insist that it does not commit crimes against Uyghurs.