At the 47-member state Human Rights Council, 17 countries voted in favor, 19 were against, and 11 abstained in a vote to hold a debate on Xinjiang at its next session in March.

In a close diplomatic victory for China, the U.N.’s top human rights body on Thursday voted down a proposal from Britain, Turkey, the United States and other mostly Western countries to hold a debate on alleged rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region, AP reports.

At the 47-member state Human Rights Council, 17 countries voted in favor, 19 were against, and 11 abstained in a vote to hold a debate on Xinjiang at its next session in March. The vote amounted to a test of political and diplomatic clout between the West and Beijing, and would have marked the first time that China’s record on human rights would merit a specific agenda item at the council.

The result, prompting a smattering of applause in the chamber, followed days of diplomatic arm-twisting in Geneva and in many national capitals as leading Western countries tried to build momentum on a report from former U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet’s office, released Aug. 31, which found that possible “crimes against humanity” had occurred in Xinjiang.

A simple majority of voting countries was required.

China locked down “no” votes among its usual allies, plus many African countries and Persian Gulf states Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Somalia was the only African country, and only member state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to vote “yes.” Turkey is in the OIC, but doesn’t have a council seat right now. Argentina, Brazil, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Ukraine were among countries that abstained.

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