HONG KONG—The United Nations’ top human-rights advocate defended her visit to China as a necessary effort to nudge its government toward addressing international concerns on its rights record, calling on Beijing to ensure counterterrorism efforts don’t violate human rights.

Michelle Bachelet’s six-day trip, which ended Saturday, has come under intense scrutiny from Western officials and human-rights watchdogs who voiced concerns that her visit would give Beijing political cover for its rights abuses in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, without uncovering meaningful new information about the Communist Party’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

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