However, Bachelet reiterated that her six-day trip, which ended on Saturday and included a visit to the western region of Xinjiang, was not an investigation into China’s human rights policy, but an opportunity to engage with the government.
Washington, meanwhile, said it “continues to be concerned” about Bachelet’s journey — which it says could be used by China for propaganda purposes.
Bachelet began her trip to China, the first by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 17 years, on Monday in the southern city of Guangzhou before heading to Xinjiang.
Her office last year said it believed Uyghurs in Xinjiang had been illegally detained, mistreated and forced to work.
“I have expressed questions and concerns about the implementation of widely adopted counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures, especially the impact on the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” she said during an online press conference on Saturday.
Bachelet’s access was restricted as China made sure she traveled in a “closed loop” — isolating people in a virtual bubble to prevent the spread of Covid-19 — with no foreign press.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington “continues to be concerned” about Bachelet’s trip to China.
“We are concerned about the conditions imposed by the Beijing authorities during the visit, which prevent a full and independent assessment of the human rights situation in (China), including in Xinjiang, where genocide and crimes against humanity are ongoing. are,” Blinken said in a statement late. on Saturday.
The United States was “further alarmed” by reports that Xinjiang residents were being pressured not to complain about the situation in the area.
“The High Commissioner should have been given confidential meetings with relatives of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang’s diaspora communities who are not in detention centers but who are not allowed to leave the region,” he said.
Rights groups and Western countries worry that China will use her trip as confirmation of its rights record. State Department spokesman Ned Price had said on Tuesday that it was “a mistake to agree to a visit under the circumstances”.
China initially denied the existence of detention camps in Xinjiang but said in 2018 it had set up “vocational training centers” necessary to curb terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism in the region.
Bachelet said she raised with the Chinese government the lack of independent judicial oversight of the centers’ operation and allegations of the use of force, assault and severe restrictions on religious practice.
In 2019, Xinjiang Governor Shohrat Zakir said all the trainees had “graduated”.
During the media briefing, Bachelet also described the detention in Hong Kong of activists, lawyers and journalists as “deeply disturbing”.