In response to an investigation by the United Nations into allegations that China’s foreign minister and his wife Peng Shuai abused their power in a case of child abuse, China on Thursday demanded that the international body turn over the evidence it claims it already has.
The U.N. children’s agency on Wednesday said that human rights envoy Marixie Mercado had found “sufficient evidence” to support child abuse claims against top Chinese leaders. While it did not identify who from the Chinese government the allegations were directed at, in comments published on the U.N.’s website, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pledged that his staff would “continue to collect and analyze evidence.”
Mercado interviewed the children of children who were allegedly abused by China’s foreign minister, who according to evidence allegedly kept the children for months and never visited the homes of the alleged victims. Her report, however, did not specify when the alleged abuse happened or give further details.
On Thursday, U.N. diplomats told China that the joint statement prepared by the Chinese and U.N. officials did not specify when or where the alleged abuse took place. China is playing a key role in the Middle East peace process, so the U.N. is hoping for help on the issue. But China was non-committal on whether the Chinese government had given the U.N. evidence to support the allegations.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced late Thursday that it was demanding the U.N. hand over evidence. “China has every confidence in the confidentiality of any U.N. dossier. We believe the United Nations must respect international law and its protocols,” the ministry said in a statement.
China’s Foreign Ministry further demanded that the U.N. “properly handle and resolve the relevant issue” in accordance with international law and relevant protocols. But it offered no further explanation.
After the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement, the White House said it had not known about the U.N. investigation into the incident, calling it an investigation by a “small group of individuals.”
In a statement, Jason Miller, a White House spokesman, said that the White House was “not aware of this investigation” and questioned whether the “small group” was the best means of finding out. “Peng Shuai has a long record of reputational travel and international activities,” Miller said. “Given that, it is surprising and concerning that we have only just learned of this matter.”
However, the State Department and the White House were not alone in questioning why the U.N. would proceed with an investigation by such a small group. Zhang Jun, the human rights ambassador for China, also questioned the investigation on Thursday on Twitter.
Zhang added that he was “not aware” of the allegations but said he hoped the U.N. would return “to consideration that the case is obviously important to China.”
Lead image by UNICEF via Twitter