China hits back at ‘prejudiced’ US in human rights report

Reuters, BEIJING

Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 1

Citing poor media freedoms, racism and “ideological prejudice,” China yesterday hit back in unusually strong terms after the US Department of State slammed China’s rights record, including equating abuses on its Muslim minorities with the 1930s.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday highlighted abuses in Iran, South Sudan, Nicaragua and China in the department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, but told reporters that China was “in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations.”

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor head Michael Kozak said that mistreatment of China’s Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region had not been seen “since the 1930s,” apparently referring to the policies of persecution of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.

In Beijing yesterday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said that the US report was as usual filled with “ideological prejudice” and groundless accusations, adding that China had lodged a complaint with Washington.

China fully safeguards human rights and has made many achievements in this regard, he said.

“We also advise that the United States take a hard look at its own domestic human rights record, and first take care of its own affairs,” Lu said.

China has roundly rejected concern about its policies in Xinjiang, where rights groups have said that the government is operating internment camps holding 1 million or more Muslims.

China has said that they are vocational training centers aimed at deradicalization.

Adding to Beijing’s strong pushback, the Chinese government on Thursday issued its annual rebuttal to criticism from Washington about China’s human rights record.

The US was a self-styled “human rights defender” that has a human rights record which is “flawed and lackluster,” the Chinese State Council said.

“The double standards of human rights it pursues are obvious,” it said.

The Chinese report pointed to a high rate of gun deaths, racial discrimination and a lack of media freedom in the US, despite China being ranked 176th last year on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, ahead of only Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea.

“Press freedom has come under unprecedented attack,” it said, pointing to cases of reporters in the US being arrested and prevented from doing their jobs.

“The US government continues to publicly and fiercely accuse the media and journalists of creating ‘fake news,’ and creating an atmosphere of intimidation and hostility,” the Chinese report said.

“Reporters’ legal right to report has been violated,” it added, pointing to cases of the White House stripping some reporters of press credentials.

There is no routine access to China’s presidential office and no presidential spokesman. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) only very rarely takes questions from any reporters, let alone foreign media.

China’s report cited foreign news organizations, including Reuters, the BBC, Newsweek and the Washington Post, for evidence of rights abuses in the US.