UN human rights body rejects Xinjiang-related bid, ‘a victory for justice and truth’
Published: Oct 07, 2022 08:19 PM
United Nations Human Rights Council File Photo: VCG

United Nations Human Rights Council File Photo: VCG

The UN Human Rights Council made of 47 member states rejecting the bid of the US and some Western countries to debate human rights on Northwest China's Xinjiang is widely considered by the Western media as a "diplomatic win" for China, but some Chinese experts hold cautionary optimism toward this phased victory due to the narrow margin in vote. Observers said that the US and the West will continue coercing those who abstained in the vote to change their positions and ramp up efforts in slandering China over its Xinjiang policy in the upcoming meetings, however more countries maintaining objective views on Xinjiang affairs will resist the US-led smear campaign targeting China.

The UN Human Rights Council's vote of 19-17 against a US-led draft decision on Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region showed that the international community won't be easily misled despite pressure from the US and some other Western countries, said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson in a late statement on Thursday.

The international community is clearly aware that the ultimate motive of the US and some other Western countries behind their Xinjiang narrative is to contain China and does not like this pattern of using human rights as a pretext to meddle in other countries' internal affairs, said the spokesperson.

The remarks came after the 51st session of the Human Rights Council on Thursday voted down a draft decision on Xinjiang region, which was pushed by the US and some of its Western allies.

The US and its allies presented the first draft decision in September targeting China to the UN's top human rights body, seeking as "a bare minimum a discussion on Xinjiang," AFP reported. 

The draft decision came up after the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) released the so-called assessment report on Xinjiang on August 31 following former UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet's visit to Xinjiang. However, the Global Times learned earlier that the report is a "product with no factual basis, no authority and no credibility," with the US and some Western forces as well as anti-China forces behind it.

The council in Geneva voted 19-17 against holding a debate on human rights in Xinjiang, with 11 nations abstaining, according to media report. 

Some countries with large Muslim populations such as Indonesia and some from the Middle East and Africa including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire voted against the debate while countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India and Ukraine abstained. 

This is a victory for developing countries and a victory for truth and justice, Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a Tweet on Thursday. "Human rights must not be used as a pretext to make up lies and interfere in other countries' internal affairs, or to contain, coerce and humiliate others," she said. 

Some Western media described the outcome as "a major blow" for the US and small clique that it leads as the draft decision was put forward by countries such as the US, the UK, Australia and Canada.

The Financial Times said, "Thursday's vote was a diplomatic victory for China, which has rejected criticism of its actions in Xinjiang as unfounded."

This outcome showed that some countries hold the right values and human rights perspectives, resist the powerful smear campaign of the US and the West and keep clear views on the human rights in Xinjiang, which also signaled China's successful international communication of human rights affairs, He Zhipeng, a professor of international law at the School of Law with Jilin University, told the Global Times on Friday. 

"What the US and some Western countries have done is typically politicizing the human rights issues. What they really care about is not the human rights in Xinjiang but whether they could play Xinjiang and human rights cards to contain China and slow down the country's development," He said. 

Some Chinese experts also pointed out that the narrow margin in vote shows that the wrestling among countries on human rights issues has been growingly fierce and the US and some Western countries are abusing the multilateral platforms and relevant procedures to consume the international human rights resources, squandering more time on geopolitical competition. 

No matter how the draft decision is disguised, its real intention is to take advantage of UN human rights bodies to interfere in China's internal affairs, so as to serve their political purpose of using Xinjiang-related issues to contain China, which is another example of politicization and instrumentalization of human rights issues, Chen Xu, China's Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva, said on Thursday. 

The draft decision is not pro-human rights, but for political manipulation. It will not promote dialogue, but only lead to new confrontations, Chen noted. "China is targeted this time, and any other developing countries could be targeted anytime in the future."

More intense wrangle 

At the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in late September, more countries expressed opposition to US and Western countries' politicization of human rights issues, which, in the eyes of experts, showed China and a wider group of countries will work together to defend true multilateralism and resist US hegemony.

Some countries with high proportion of Muslim population voted against the draft decision because they agree with China's preventive measures to counter violent terrorism, radicalization and separatism, and some have taken or plan to take similar measures in their countries, an expert on Xinjiang affairs and human rights who preferred not to be named told the Global Times on Friday. 

"Similar measures adopted by other countries did not arouse strong reaction or criticism from the US and the West because these countries are not imaginary enemies of the West and therefore not targeted," he said. 

In early August, 32 diplomatic envoys posted to China and senior diplomats from 30 Islamic countries visited Xinjiang, and what the delegation saw and heard along the way is completely different from what some Western media reported as the freedom of religious belief and various rights of Muslims are duly guaranteed, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

However, as there was a narrow margin in vote this time, the anonymous expert warned that the US and the West will surely use a series of measures pressuring or coercing those countries abstained to change their position and plan to launch a Xinjiang-targeted human rights campaign in the next UN human rights body meeting in March 2023, which China should be well prepared for. 

The UN Human Rights Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least 10 weeks, which take place in February-March, June-July and September-October, according to its website. Sessions can be three, four or five weeks long, depending on the program of work.

The OHCHR has been trying to resist Western influence for quite a long time, but such resistance became less effective because of personnel reshuffle, He said. "For international and multilateral organizations such the UN Human Rights Council and the OHCHR, if they forget their original aspiration of unifying other countries to push forward human rights progress and end up being politicized by certain countries, it will hurt their reputation," he said. 

There are many human rights-related issues that the world should pay attention to today including those caused by climate change, science and technological development and the impact of big data, aging population and so on, some experts said, who also suggested that on some major human rights issues, countries share common concerns but the geopolitical confrontation won't be helpful in tackling them.