(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is "appalled" by new images from camps in China's Xinjiang region and considers the visit of a top United Nations official to the area this week without assurances of unfettered access a mistake, according to the State Department.
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The comments by department spokesman Ned Price came after the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and the BBC released thousands of images of detained Uyghurs, some under the gaze of baton-wielding guards, and shortly after Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, began a controversial and long-delayed trip to China.
"We are appalled by the reports and the jarring images of the PRC's internment camps and camps in Xinjiang," Price told reporters Tuesday, referring to the People's Republic of China.
The US has accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. Beijing has rejected those claims, saying it has provided the region's majority Uyghur Muslim population with job training in massive education facilities.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday at a regular press briefing in Beijing that the US had been "flip flopping" on the Bachelet trip. "The US was once among the most vocal in demanding a visit to Xinjiang by the high commissioner -- but now it's the biggest critic of such a visit," he said.
"The US is worried their lies about genocide and forced labor in Xinjiang will be debunked," he added. "They have to use a bigger lie to cover up the old lie."
Bachelet -- a former president of Chile whose family was persecuted by the country's dictatorship in the 1970s -- told diplomats on a call Monday that her trip to Xinjiang wouldn't be an "investigation" and said that setting high expectations would lead to disappointment, according to participants on the call.
Price said: "We have no expectation that the PRC will grant the necessary access required to conduct a complete, unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang. We think it was a mistake to agree to a visit under these circumstances."
The UN said that Bachelet -- its first human rights chief to visit China since 2005 -- will issue a statement and hold a press conference on May 28 after her trip to Xinjiang ends.
(Updates with Chinese Foreign Ministry comment.)
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