China is concentrating on another United Nations organisation that is convening across the Atlantic Ocean in Geneva as world leaders assemble in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly.
Following a UN report on abuses against Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups in the western China border region, Chinese diplomats are speaking out and persuading others at a current Human Rights Council session to block a potential call for further scrutiny of what it calls its anti-extremism campaign in Xinjiang.
The parallel sessions highlight China's conflicted stance toward the UN and its expanding global influence. Beijing views the U.N.
China, although praising the UN as an example of multilateralism, rejects criticism or judgments that the country's ruling Communist Party deems to be inimical to its interests. Its ambassadors retaliated against the U.N. report that was released last month.
The Xinjiang report's release was postponed for more than a year as a result of China's ferocious efforts to prevent it. In the end, the information was revealed, but only moments before Michelle Bachelet, the besieged U.N. human rights chief, resigned.
China, like the US, enjoys a certain amount of freedom to disregard UN bodies whenever it pleases: In 2018, the Trump administration expelled the United States from the Human Rights Council on the grounds that it was biassed against Israel.
Similar to the United States, China uses its power to advance its interests, effectively obstructing a World Health Organization inquiry into whether China was the source of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese international relations scholar Shi Yinhong noted the COVID-19 origins research and the most recent Xinjiang report in his argument that just because China supports the U.N.'s role in upholding the international order does not mean it supports every U.N. organisation.
However, China does not want its resentment of the rights office, which reports to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to affect its growing ties with other parts of the global organisation that deal with refugees, the climate, the internet, satellites, world hunger, atomic weapons, energy, and much more.
Legarda noted that China's U.N. participation has increased under Xi, who took office ten years ago, from early on when it focused mostly on international development to now include political, peace, and security problems.