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Hegemony drives Washington's human rights campaign

China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-14 07:55

Fan Jianping/China Daily

Editor's Note: Some Western politicians and media have been questioning China's human rights record. Sharing their views on the issue with China Daily, two scholars show how hypocritical and ridiculous the West's allegations are. Excerpts follow:

Washington must first put its house in order

Although the US Department of State claims its Country Reports on Human Rights, which was issued on March 30, covers internationally recognized individual, civil, political and workers' rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements, it does not mention universal rights of specific groups such as ethnic minorities, women, children and elderly people nor collective rights such as the right to life, to development, to peace and to a safe environment. Instead, the State Department report focuses on personal freedom and political rights that are highly valued in the United States.

No wonder US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited US President Joe Biden in his statement while introducing the report: "We must start with diplomacy rooted in America's most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity."

Blinken claimed that the novel coronavirus "pandemic impacted not only individuals' health, but their abilities to safely enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Some governments used the crisis as a pretext to restrict rights and consolidate authoritarian rule. Other governments relied on democratic values, processes and accountability to inform and protect their citizens".

The pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 560,000 Americans. Do American politicians such as Blinken believe the US has protected the human rights of the American people? The pandemic has caused the maximum damage in the US because the previous administration believed personal freedom overrides the right to life. In contrast, China has managed to largely control the spread of the virus thanks to strict and effective anti-pandemic measures.

Moreover, police officers in the US, in general, are brutally violent against people of color. And hate crimes against Asian Americans have been increasing in recent years. Also, the US refused to ease its sanctions on countries such as Syria, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela even at the height of the pandemic. By slandering other countries for their human rights records and playing down its own problems on the issue, the US has exposed its hypocrisy and double standard on the human rights issue.

The State Department report makes groundless accusations against China's human rights record in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, by smearing the government's fight against terrorism and extremism, and the introduction of vocational skill education and training centers in the region.

The US' misplaced sense of human rights has resulted in the administration's reckless response to the pandemic, and its "human rights diplomacy" has disturbed global peace and aggravated the humanitarian crisis in other countries. The US must stop using human rights as a tool for pressuring and subjugating other countries and instead introspect on its own human rights tragedies.

Chang Jian, director of the Human Rights Study Center at Nankai University

US has no right to lecture others on human rights

The US has masqueraded as a human rights defender and critique of other countries' human rights policies and practices. But since racial discrimination is evident in all aspects of US society, it is not qualified to lecture other countries on the issue.

The rights of American Indians have been violated year after year, decade after decade, century after century. The Caucasian settlers carried out systematic ethnic cleansing and massacres of Native Americans. It is estimated that at least 15 million indigenous people were living in North America before the white settlers arrived there in 1492. But by 1900, their number had dropped to 250,000.

Even today, Native Americans are treated as second-class citizens and their rights are trampled. In fact, about 21.9 percent of indigenous people live below the poverty line, and according to a UN report, during the pandemic the hospitalization rate of indigenous people was five times that of white people. The death rate of Native Americans, too, is far higher than that for white people.

Systemic racial discrimination exists in law enforcement as well. African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population, but account for almost one-third of the prison population. Worse, African Americans account for 28 percent of the people killed by police officers, and they are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police.

Besides, the US has the world's highest rate of gun ownership. Gun violence is a serious threat to people's right to life, and shootings, especially those in shopping malls and schools, threaten the safety of ordinary people.

Ironically, the pandemic and social unrest in the US had led to record gun sales of about 23 million in 2020, when a record 41,500 people died in gun violence, and 592 mass shootings were reported nationwide, at an average of more than 1.6 a day. With regard to gun homicides, the US has reported a rate about 25 times higher than other wealthy countries.

Since the US cannot safeguard its own people's human rights, as shown by the above facts, it has no right to lecture other countries on human rights.

Li Yunlong, a professor at National Academy of Governance

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

If you have a specific expertise and would like to contribute to China Daily, please contact us at opinion@chinadaily.com.cn, and comment@chinadaily.com.cn.

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