China to face ‘protracted war’ on human rights with US
Published: Mar 31, 2021 11:48 PM

Young migrants rest at the US Customs and Border Protection facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas, Tuesday. The Biden administration for the first time allowed some media to visit the facility on Tuesday. Photo: The Paper

In the week that saw the commencement of the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer accused in the death of George Floyd, which triggered sweeping nationwide protests in the US in the summer of 2020 over deeply rooted racial inequality, the US Department of State released its annual "country human rights" report, lambasting other countries' human rights records including China's Xinjiang policy. 

The US, whose failed COVID-19 response resulted in the world's highest COVID-19 death toll, has no right to grade other countries' human rights records, Chinese observers said. The Biden administration released the report to polish its image and obscure their failed handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial inequality, which would only further intensify its domestic conflicts, the observers noted. They warned that if the US continues swinging the stick of sanctions at China over its domestic affairs, including Xinjiang and Hong Kong, China will firmly hit back with countermeasures. 

In the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released on Tuesday, the US accused China of committing "genocide and crimes against humanity" against Uygurs in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 

Although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously accused China of "genocide," the language in the report was described by some Western media as the "first time the Biden administration had made an official declaration."

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at Wednesday's media briefing that the US arbitrarily alleged "genocide" in Xinjiang based on lies and false information from some anti-China forces, which is an absurd lie of the century, a grave insult to the Chinese people, and a severe trampling on international law and the basic norms governing international relations.  

"The US has no right to accuse China over human rights. It's time for some US politicians to end the drama they made up, directed and performed themselves, and it's time for them to wake up from their own Truman Show," Hua said. 

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that weaponizing human rights has been a US strategy to deal with China for decades. 

Though their accusations of Xinjiang are complete lies, "you cannot wake a person who is pretending to be asleep," Lü said, noting the proverb also applies to the US' domestic governance.

Blinken admitted on Tuesday that the US has work to do "at home," including "systemic racism," but he said: "We don't pretend these problems don't exist or try to sweep them under the rug. We don't ignore them."

It seems that Blinken is attempting to separate human rights issues in the US from accusations it pinned on other countries, which exactly showed US' double standards in human rights, analysts said. 

Jia Chunyang, an expert from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Biden has always adopted a tough stance on human rights issue, and using the term "genocide" in its human rights report means the US' hawkish strategy toward China will not ease during Biden's term. The US may take more actions on issues of Tibet and Hong Kong, Jia said.

Lü pointed out that addressing racism has become a customary slogan for US politicians, but they have neither the capability nor the willingness to really solve the problem. 

In contrast, those politicians tried to pump up their image in front of Americans and blur the domestic focus on governance failures by smearing and discrediting other countries, Lü said, citing the Trump administration's attacks on China over coronavirus origins as an example. 

Washington's attitude will further poison US domestic political environment and encourage ordinary people to vent their anger on ethnic minorities, the expert said. 

The Biden administration is facing a 20-year high in numbers of migrants arriving at its southern border, including some 5,000 children. According to Western media reports, the children were kept in detention facilities that were criticized as inhumane and were described as "concentration camps" by American and Chinese net users.  

Just before the US released its report, China's State Council Information Office issued a full report on human rights violations in the US in 2020 on March 24, with Chinese analysts saying the report reveals an inevitable declining trend in human rights in the US. 

The 15,000-Chinese-character document details facts regarding Washington's incompetent pandemic containment leading to tragic outcomes, American democracy's disorder that has triggered political chaos, ethnic minorities suffering racial discrimination, continuous social unrest threatening public security, growing polarization between the rich and the poor, aggravating social inequality, and the US trampling on international rules resulting in humanitarian disasters, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

By the end of February 2021, the US, home to less than 5 percent of the world's population, accounted for more than a quarter of the world's confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly one-fifth of global deaths from the disease. More than 500,000 Americans lost their lives due to the virus, according to the report.  

The impact of attacking China over human rights is far-reaching, as it will undermine mutual trust between China and the US, which is the basis for cooperation in any other field, Jia said. 

Counter possible US sanctions 

Apart from Xinjiang, the report also slandered China over the Hong Kong issue, which Blinken described as the "quashing of democracy" in Hong Kong as he released the report. 

Blinken said that the US will "use a broad range of other tools to stop abuses and hold perpetrators to account," and one way is by working with Congress, which has passed laws allowing sanctions on human rights violators. Blinken mentioned the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that was signed into law in 2019. 

If the US insists on stirring up troubles over Xinjiang, Hong Kong and other topics, China will fight to the end. Sanctions on Chinese officials and entities will receive reciprocal countermeasures, while if the US Congress passes acts allowing economic sanctions, China will fight back firmly, Lü said. 

The US and its Western allies will not stop using human rights to accumulate political capital, and will not stop smearing China, for which China should get prepared for a "protracted war," Lü said. 

"Western countries have economic strength and louder voices, but that does not mean they represent the majority of the international community," Jia said, citing that more than 80 countries expressed clear support for China's Xinjiang policies at the UN human rights council. 

China in the meantime could take a greater initiative in international human rights arena and more actively promote our own human rights discourse and values so that international society would learn about China's true human rights value, observers said, and they noted that China could make more countries understand that the discourse of human rights is not just based on Western standards, but is pluralistic, multicultural and multi-ethnic.