“[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 , 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:
- Detroit’s water crisis last year
- the harassment of women in the military
- Eric Garner’s choking death
- overcrowded prisons
- the CIA’s use of “rectal rehydration” and other torture
- the US’s shrinking middle class
- the under-representation of Blacks and Hispanics in tech
- “legalized bribery” in the form of corporate political contributions
- teen unemployment
- homelessness levels in New York City
- the prevalence of mental illnesses in the US
- the death of 1,147 people from US drone attacks
» Excerpted from China has issued a scathing report on human rights abuses in the United States, Lily Kuo, Quartz, 26 June 2015