US official slams 'choreographed and chaperoned' tours to troubled Chinese region

The U.S. is warning that the Chinese government’s tours to Xinjiang are “highly choreographed” and create a misleading impression of the region.

“Highly choreographed and chaperoned government-led tours in Xinjiang have propagated false narratives and obfuscated the realities of China’s ongoing human rights abuses in the region,” the U.S. official told Reuters.

China recently announced plans to invite European diplomats to visit the region, where the government operates what critics and human rights groups say are internment camps for Muslims and the government says are simply vocational training centers aimed at de-radicalization.

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China said last week it would invite Beijing-based European envoys to visit this week. It is not clear whether an invitation has been extended to the U.S., Reuters reported.

If the visit proceeds as scheduled, it would be the first by a large group of Western diplomats since last year when critics of the government first began voicing concerns about government activities in the region.

A small group of European Union diplomats has already visited the region earlier this year, as well as a group of diplomats from a number of nations including Hungary, Greece, and nations in Southeast Asia and North Africa, according to Reuters.

Earlier in March, State Department officials said human rights abuses against China’s Muslim minority population were reaching levels unseen “since the 1930s.”