U.N. body rejects debate on China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims

STORY: In a rare move, the U.N. rights council on Thursday voted down a motion to hold a debate about alleged human rights abuses by China against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang ..

the surprise victory for Beijing was met with a burst of applause after the result was announced in the packed Geneva-based council room...

The defeat is only the second time in the council's 16-year history that a motion has been rejected and is seen by observers as a setback to both the West's moral authority on human rights and the credibility of the United Nations itself.

The United States, Canada and Britain were among the countries that brought the motion.

U.S. ambassador Michele Taylor and UK ambassador Simon Manley both defended the need for scrutiny.

TAYLOR: “No country, no matter how powerful should be excluded from council discussion. This includes my country, the United States, and it includes the People’s Republic of China.”

MANLEY: “We are here to discuss the most serious human rights violations and abuses wherever and by whomever they are committed. There can be no doubt about the gravity and the scale of what is being reported in Xinjiang warrants such a debate,”

The U.N. rights office on Aug. 31 released a long-delayed report that found serious human rights violations in Xinjiang that may constitute crimes against humanity, ramping up pressure on China.

But China's envoy had warned before the vote that the motion would create a precedent for examining other countries' human rights records.

Chen Xu: "Today China is targeted. Tomorrow any other developing country will be targeted”

The motion is the first time that the rights record of China, a powerful permanent Security Council member, has been on the agenda of the Human rights council.

Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Uyghurs, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority that numbers around 10 million in the western region of Xinjiang, including the mass use of forced labor in internment camps. The United States has accused China of genocide. Beijing vigorously denies any abuses.

In the end - 19 nations – including Qatar, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan -- rejected the motion for debate. 17 voted for, and 11 abstained.