US too racist and violent to criticize other countries on human rights, China says – Heather Timmons

Human Rights

Heather Timmons“[China reports that] human rights in the US were ‘terrible,’ and that, even worse, there appears to be no ‘intention to improve’ them in Washington, DC.” – Heather Timmons

The United Nations Human Rights Council is in the midst of a three-week meeting in New York, and sparks are flying between the US and China. After 12 nations, led by the US, denounced China’s “deteriorating human rights record,” including an apparent illegal abduction of five Hong Kong booksellers and the arrest of hundreds of lawyers and activists, China fired back at the US.

Fu Cong, China’s ambassador to the UN, said:

The US is notorious for prison abuse at Guantanamo prison, its gun violence is rampant, racism is its deep-rooted malaise.

The United States conducts large-scale extra-territorial eavesdropping, uses drones to attack other countries’ innocent civilians, its troops on foreign soil commit rape and murder of local people. It conducts kidnapping overseas and uses black prisons.

Fu’s comments are an abbreviated version of China’s latest annual scathing report on human rights in the US, which Beijing has issued for 16 years in a row (and for no other country but the US). Last year’s report included a litany of problems that the US faces, from Detroit’s water crisis to the CIA’s use of torture to teen unemployment, and concluded that human rights in the US were “terrible,” and that, even worse, there appears to be no “intention to improve” them in Washington, DC.

Who gets to lecture who on human rights is an increasingly political issue, as Quartz reported earlier. As other governments adjust to Beijing’s rising economic might, some have scaled back their criticism of China’s human rights abuses, even as those abuses have increased under Xi Jinping in recent years. Beijing’s abduction of five Hong Kong booksellers is just the latest in a widespread crackdown on activists, lawyers, and free speech in China.

Human rights experts believe the tit-for-tat criticism misses the bigger picture. “We reject idea that countries have to have a perfect human rights record to criticize other governments,” Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s director for East Asia, told Quartz earlier. “If we were to follow this road, human rights could never be discussed since no country has a perfect human rights record.” – Quartz, 11 March 2016

» Heather Timmons is the senior Asia correspondent for Quartz in Hing Kong.

Some of the charges China makes against the US:

The human rights situation in the United States is “increasingly grave,” according to a seven-page report released […] by China’s State Council [2015], and unlikely to get better in the near term—the US shows “not a bit of regret for or intention to improve” the country’s “terrible” human rights situation.

The US suffers from “grim racial discrimination,” gun violence, government-sanctioned invasions of privacy, and a deficient healthcare system, this year’s report says. Add to that fundamental inequality:

“Although the U.S. is the most developed country in the world, it is hard for the economic and social rights of its citizens to be soundly ensured. In the process of economic recovery, the income inequality continued to be enlarged, the basic living conditions for the homeless people deteriorated, the health care system operated terribly and the education rights of average citizens were violated.”

China’s wide-ranging list of the US’s human rights offenses includes everything from violent incidents that happened during the past year to more general underlying issues in industry and the economy as a whole. Here’s a sample:

» Excerpted from China has issued a scathing report on human rights abuses in the United States, Lily Kuo, Quartz, 26 June 2015

Human Rights

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2 Responses

  1. Watch: From My Lai to Ferguson, China blasts US human rights abuses in a new documentary – Zheping Huang – Quartz – 15 March 2016

    Many of the issues raised in the documentary were thoroughly reported in the US when they occurred, and in most instances CCTV relied on that reporting or US government or UN data for its coverage. In many cases, Chinese citizens wouldn’t have seen this reporting when the abuses occurred, because the original news sources are blocked in China. Here’s what the documentary covers, in chronological order:

    > My Lai Massacre. The US army killed over 500 unarmed civilians in the My Lai village during the Vietnam War in 1968. The Nixon administration initially tried to cover up the incident.

    > The homeless and unemployed. More than 560,000 US people were homeless in 2015, and among them 25% were under age, CCTV said, citing figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. One unemployed programmer told a CCTV reporter during the cold winter of 2014 “A lot of shelters are full during the winter time… Survival is rough.”

    > Sexual abuse in prisons. CCTV highlighted a Miami Herald investigation into Lowell Correctional Institution in 2015 to discuss sexual abuse in the US’s largest women’s prison. Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women had similar problems, CCTV reported, citing a 2014 US Dept. of Justice report.

    > Women in poverty. US women in poverty rose from 12.1% to 14.5% over the past ten years, a higher rate than men in poverty, CCTV said, citing UN data. The US is the only industrialized country that has no laws on paid maternity leave, CCTV said. Only three US states offer paid parental leave to full-time, private-sector workers.

    > Children’s rights. The US is the world’s only country that has not ratified the UN convention on children’s rights.
    Police violence against children. Texas police officer pulled guns on African-American teens at a pool party in June of 2015, CCTV reported. An officer violently flipped over an African-American student at her desk in a South Carolina high school in October of 2015.

    > The US is “overflowing with guns.” 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death by Cleveland police because he was holding a toy gun in 2014. According to American Academic of Pediatrics, a quarter of of the US teenagers aged 15 and up who died of injuries died of shootings. More than 13,000 US citizens were killed in shootings in 2015.

    > Politics are controlled by money and family connections. 200 of the US’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions between 2007 and 2012, with a 76000% return on investment, CCTV said, citing research from The Sunshine Foundation. The sons of presidents have are 1.4 million times more likely to become president than an average US male boomer, CCTV said, citing The New York Times.

    > Privacy rights. The FBI accesses personal web history with out a court warrant, CCTV said, citing a December 2015 Washington Post report. The NSA spies on European leaders.

    > Racism. African-American Freddie Gray died after he received a spinal injury in police custody, sparking riots in Baltimore and nationwide in August of 2015. Michael Brown shot dead by a white police officer in August of 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, and there was another similar case in Chicago.

    > More racism. Of the 965 US citizens shot and killed by police in 2015, 36 were unarmed African-Americans, CCTV said, citing Washington Post research. The WaPo actually wrote that white police officers killing unarmed black men “represent less than 4 percent of fatal police shootings”—that’s most probably where 36 comes from.
    More racism. Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw sexually assaulted eight black women in 2015. The US police is 28 times more likely to stop and search black people.

    > Imprisonment. Two Yemen nationals Mustafa Ait Idir and Mohammed al-Qahtani were held under “mistaken detention” in Guantanamo Bay, but were later found innocent.

    > Civilian victims in US drone strikes. An estimated 423 to 962 civilians are believed to have been killed in US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen since the Sept. 11, 2001, CCTV said citing a Washington Post report. A drone strike called Operation Haymaker killed 219 people in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2013, and only 35 were attack targets. The documentary also noted US’s air strikes in Afghanistan and Syria also killed civilians—including a Doctors Without Borders medical compound.

  2. tibet-china

    Of course China is not innocent either. Its conduct in Tibet is abominable. But the point is that at least one country has challenged the American presumption that it is morally superior to every other country and has a better human rights record.

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