China is using its economic and diplomatic might to carry out the “most intense attack” ever on the global system for protecting human rights, leading campaign group Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, while the US’ Freedom House yesterday urged governments to impose penalties on Chinese officials and tighten broadcast regulations amid a “dramatic expansion” in Chinese efforts to influence media overseas.
Human Rights Watch made the allegation in its annual report, launched at the UN headquarters in New York two days after its executive director, Kenneth Roth, was barred from entering Hong Kong to release it there.
The non-governmental organization accused Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) government of overseeing “the most brutal and pervasive oppression that China has seen for decades,” including building a “nightmarish surveillance system” in Xinjiang.
To fend off global efforts to hold it to account, Beijing has “significantly increased” efforts to undermine the international institutions created in the mid-20th century to defend human rights, Human Rights Watch said.
“Beijing has long suppressed domestic critics. Now the Chinese government is trying to extend that censorship to the rest of the world,” Roth said in the report.
“If not challenged, Beijing’s actions portend a dystopian future in which no one is beyond the reach of Chinese censors, and an international human rights system so weakened that it no longer serves as a check on government repression,” he added.
The report accuses China of “repeatedly threatening other member states at the United Nations to protect its image and deflect discussion of its abuses.”
Meanwhile, Freedom House said in its report: “When Chinese diplomats and security agents overstep their bounds and attempt to interfere with media reporting in other countries, the host government should vigorously protest.”
It said the US and other governments should support policies that require Chinese media to disclose spending on paid advertorials, ownership structures and other economic ties to Chinese state actors.
In the past few years, Chinese state media and private Internet companies have invested heavily overseas, prompting concern from lawmakers and rights groups that Beijing could remotely expand its sphere of influence.
“While some aspects of this effort are in line with traditional public diplomacy, many others are covert, coercive and potentially corrupt,” Freedom House said.
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