This move comes at a time where China is deploying vast diplomatic and propaganda efforts to rebuke what it deems as "Western hypocrisy" and legitimise grave rights violations in Xinjiang, against findings by the High Commissioner herself. Australia, Canada and Japan were among them, along with European countries including Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland. "It is a signal".
"The joint statement is important not only for Xinjiang's population, but for people around the world who depend on the U.N.'s leading rights body to hold even the most powerful countries to account", said John Fisher, Geneva director at HRW, in response to the joint letter.
A group of 22 countries have urged China to allow independent observers to access and investigate suspected grave human rights violations in Xinjiang.
China's foreign ministry said the letter "neglected the facts" and was a slander against China, an interference in its affairs and the politicisation of human rights.
"The Chinese side expressed strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition", Geng said, adding that China had registered "solemn complaints" with the countries involved. "We have already lodged stern representations with the relevant countries", spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing. On the contrary, as a Council member, China must uphold the highest standards in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and fully cooperate with the Council.More news: Google is giving social networking another try with Shoelace
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In addition to travel restrictions and a massive surveillance network, China is estimated to have arbitrarily detained up to 1 million Muslims in prison-like detention centers in Xinjiang, with reports of harsh treatment and poor living conditions inside.
They urged China to allow global independent experts, including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, proper access to Xinjiang.
United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has requested a fact-finding mission to Xinjiang and China has extended an open invitation for her to visit the region. A United Nations spokeswoman said at the time that the trip, including "full access to Xinjiang", was under discussion.
Geng said Xinjiang had not had a terrorist incident for more than two years due to a series of anti-terrorism and de-extremization measures, including the establishment of vocational education and training centers, and people of all ethnic groups had sincerely supported the government's policy. China's delegation is "hopping mad" at the move and is preparing its own letter, a diplomat said.
"Those allegations by a small group of Western countries and NGOs can not do away with the tremendous achievements that were made against terrorism and radicalisation and can not change the fact that Xinjiang people are leading a happy life", he said.