The U.S. State Department’s recently released Human Rights Report for 2018 is its yearly attempt to hold other governments accountable, while saying nothing about controversial American government actions during the year.
The aim is to enhance generally the basic human rights listed in the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and end international abuses, such as “extrajudicial killing, torture, and extended arbitrary detention.”
This year, Russia is one of the countries again highlighted. Vladimir Putin’s government is criticized for extrajudicial killings and arrests, including opposition politicians and journalists as well as severe oppression of the LGBT community.
Meanwhile, in presenting the report, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that the party-state in Beijing is in “a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations … In just 2018, China intensified its campaign of detaining Muslim minority groups at record levels. Today, more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims are interned in re-education camps designed to erase their religious and ethnic identities.”
Michael Kozak of the bureau of democracy, human rights, and labor added, “From Xinjiang, where you’ve got hundreds of thousands or millions of people in camps, to the treatment of Falun Gong, to house churches … The situation in China has not gotten better, it’s gotten a lot worse over the last several years.”
The situation in China has not gotten better, it’s gotten a lot worse over the last several years.
Few national leaders have weighed in yet on the Uyghur crisis, no doubt because Beijing uses its economic clout to contain international criticism. Peter Apps recently wrote in the New Statesman America that both experts and activists agree that what is being done to the Uyghurs is deteriorating quickly, adding chillingly that it is “almost certainly the largest mass incarceration of a racial or religious group since the Holocaust.”
On China’s ongoing commerce in human organs, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Resolution 343 in mid-2016. It calls on the State Department “to conduct a more detailed analysis on state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the annual Human Rights Report, and report annually to Congress … barring provision of visas to Chinese and other nationals engaged in coerced organ or bodily tissue transplantation.”
Zhang Erping, a former diplomat for China who now speaks for Falun Gong in America, says, “Beijing is perfecting its methods of persecution used against Falun Gong practitioners over the years to suppress other groups lately. China is the only country on Earth that spends more money on domestic security than its national defence … The U.S. must stand firm on its moral grounds and protect human rights around the world, China in particular.”
In Canada, we face additional problems exacerbated by naïveté and failure to uphold our values with the party-state in Beijing over many years. For example, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor remain as hostages imprisoned in harsh conditions in China in direct response to the arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou and her release on bail in Vancouver, as required by our extradition treaty with the U.S.
Canadian Clive Ansley practised law in Shanghai for 14 years until 2003, before leaving in despair over its complete lack of rule of law. He notes, for example, that nothing witnesses or lawyers say in “courts” has any impact on the outcome. “Those who hear the case do not make the judgement; those who make the judgement have not heard the case.” The presiding “judge” simply reads decisions and penalties predetermined in a back room by senior party-state judges.
Jonathan Manthorpe’s recently-published Claws of the Panda, carefully chronicles a 70-year campaign to ensure that the Beijing party-state’s interests are protected by Canada’s political, business and academic establishments. He outlines, for example, the role of Canadian Christians and “mish” kids, the children of numerous missionary parents who lived in China from the 1880s and eho built warm bilateral relations up to the Communist Revolution in 1949. President Xi Jinping’s much increased persecution of Christians and other faith communities in recent years across China is now presumably well-known in all nations with independent media.
The book concludes that Canadians should no longer be silent about human rights abuses in China; should affirm our support for the expansion of democracy and rule of law in Hong Kong; support enhanced economic and political relations with independent and democratic Taiwan; and expand our political, trade and military alliances with Asian and Pacific Rim democracies such as India, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and engage with emerging democracies among the nations of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia.
Like-minded democracies across the world should continue to engage with China, especially its peoples, but assume a much tougher and more self-assured attitude towards Beijing than is normally now the case.
David Kilgour served in the House of Commons from 1979 to 2006, including a stint as Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific (2002-2003). In 2009, he published with David Matas Bloody Harvest-The Killing of Falun Gong for their Organs. http://www.david-kilgour.com