Human rights issue hypocritically used by organizations in West to smear China

By Fabio Massimo Parenti Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/3 18:33:40

China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has again been in the news recently as Western media has turned the spotlight on vocational training centers or re-education camps in Western rhetoric.

Why has the region - like geopolitically sensitive areas - been constantly under Western media glare? Why does it come up periodically?

The West tends to pretend to understand a foreign country, through Western media, better than the country's media itself. Even worse, it often addresses information for geopolitical purposes. In this sense, the hyper-simplification and distortions on Xinjiang represent a well-learned lesson by the Chinese. My first advice to honest observers is that Chinese official views and media opinion should be taken seriously by Westerners.

Second, Xinjiang is a sensitive and complex place. An ethnic region inhabited by  minorities, with a high degree of autonomy, Xinjiang is geographically vast and resource rich. It borders Central Asia and South Asia from where terrorist groups enter and exit. So, Xinjiang is strategically important. During the last few years, Xinjiang has been targeted by terrorist attacks that took many lives. Separatist movements supported by external forces have been dangerous not only for China but also the world. Groups of terrorists in Xinjiang have joined the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

So, why do Western countries not respect the right of Chinese authorities to address the issue according to their priorities? China has been an active player in the international fight against terrorism. Moreover, China's main response to allegations in Xinjiang is that it is trying to improve the economy and bolster development. Beijing should be supported in its efforts to improve conditions in the volatile region.

Third, how reliable is the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report which has been quoted widely by Western media outlets? I remember that a year ago HRW set off a debate around an alleged scandal in Xinjiang. It was based on very weak arguments.

On December 13, 2017, the New York-based rights organization issued a report on human rights violations in Xinjiang. The accusation, immediately rejected by Chinese authorities as unfounded, was linked to the collection of DNA samples, fingerprints, and iris scans of all residents. Collection of demographic and biological data is done to build a database to be shared among various government departments. Very simply put, it is a security measure that is legitimate and not discriminatory against an ethnic group because it is applied to all the residents.

These measures are only for reasons of identification and information. About 120 countries have begun to incorporate biometric information into their citizens' passports and many experts argue that new biometric techniques help in identity protection. Therefore, the accusations against China are unreasonable. HRW "has kept making false allegations on China-related issues all along. That's why I would like to say that such allegation is not even worth your time," said Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, it is known that HRW has always toed the line of US foreign policy.

These examples once again highlight the hypocritical use of the question of human rights by the organizations of a country, which itself presents strident contradictions. The deteriorating human rights situation in the US discredits the country's role as a champion of rights. Gun crimes including mass shootings have shot up, not to mention the highest rate of incarceration in the world (second only to the Seychelles), the numerous cases of racial discrimination, the growing gap between various income groups, the thousands of killings of civilians in military interventions in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The refusal of the US government to sign many conventions and resolutions on human rights in the UN also points at Washington's double standards on the issue.

The author is associate professor of international studies (ASN), teaching at the International Institute Lorenzo de' Medici, Florence. He is also member of CCERRI think tank, Zhengzhou, and member of EURISPES, Laboratorio BRICS, Rome. His latest book is Geofinance and Geopolitics, Egea. On twitter @fabiomassimos.

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