On Tuesday (Sept. 13), China criticized a report released by the UN office for human rights on alleged abuses in Xinjiang. A statement had been read by a Chinese envoy calling out the UN body, and claiming that around 20 other countries had expressed support to Beijing.
The report from Aug. 31 stated that "serious human rights violations have been committed" and that the incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslims in China's Xinjiang province may constitute crimes against humanity. China had requested that the UN not make the report public. China vehemently rejects any wrongdoing.
Initial support for Beijing's so-called unified statement at the UN Human Rights Council, however, was weaker than some observers had anticipated. This could give China's detractors more confidence.
As a response, democracies are currently considering a potential historic motion against China, including a potential investigative mechanism, according to diplomats who spoke to Reuters. In the council's Tuesday session, where nations are debating the report for the first time, the United States, Canada, and the European Union were among those who welcomed the Xinjiang findings and expressed alarm.
However, Chen Xu, China's envoy, dismissed it as a false "smear," claiming that it was founded on lies.
"We are deeply concerned that the OHCHR, without the authorization of the Human Rights Council, and the consent of the country concerned, released the so-called assessment on Xinjiang, China ...," he said in a separate statement.
According to a representative of the UN council, Egypt and Pakistan were among the 21 nations who have so far signed the declaration.
However, a Reuters count revealed that only seven of those who supported China presently had a vote at the Council, which consists of 47 members and requires a majority to pass resolutions. "They won't be happy with that," one diplomat said.
Nepal, Nigeria, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates were among the nations who had previously expressed support for China on human rights problems but were not on the current list; however, they could join later as the list is still open.
"The UN report has made it hard for many countries, in particular Muslim ones, to stay silent ..." Raphael Viana David from the International Service for Human Rights said.
Diplomats reported that both China and Western nations have been actively campaigning in response to the Xinjiang report. "Everybody has been lobbied," one diplomat, who said his country would not support either side, said.