Human rights?! Illustration: Liu Rui / GT
While the United States and other Western countries often preach human rights in developing countries, including China, they have their own notorious human rights record. For example, the discovery of several hundred remains of Indigenous children in Canada in anonymous graves shocked the world. Without repenting of their own acts of genocide, why do the United States and some Western countries insist on using human rights topics to attack China? What could China and other developing countries do to deal with the situation? World time (GT) interviewed Zhang Dan (Zhang), vice president and general manager of the China United Nations Association on these issues.
GT: You are organizing an online event on the topic of discrimination against Asians in the United States on the sidelines of the current 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council. In the eyes of some in the West, it is fair for the United States and the West to accuse China on human rights matters. But it is “propaganda” for China to point out that the United States and the West have major problems with their own human rights record. They even call it a “whataboutist” attack. How do you feel about this?
Zhang: The West still thinks it has high moral standards on human rights. They control the power of discourse to define what human rights are and how to interpret it – it is in fact a kind of hegemony over human rights issues.
The West believes that non-Western countries are unqualified to present their own views on human rights. Let us take the example of the right to development. All developing countries, including China, cherish this right, because without it, talking about the protection of other human rights would be like building a castle in the air. Without it, there will be no guarantee for other human rights such as education and health. The Declaration on the Right to Development was adopted at the United Nations years ago, but why has it not become a convention? Western countries oppose it because they do not consider the right to development to be the same as human rights.
The West is hypocritical on human rights issues. The human rights they talk about are not human rights for everyone. The United States has asserted that human rights are the very foundation of the founding of the country. But when it was founded, women and blacks did not have the right to vote. Native Americans died from the genocide. The United States’ human rights record shows that its human rights are only about protecting the interests of whites. Until today, the human rights of ethnic minorities have not been fully protected. Discrimination against Asians and Blacks has fully exposed its problem.
Recently, there has been continued coverage of the remains of Indigenous children found in Canada. In the 1990s, I listened to Indigenous peoples from the United States, Canada and Australia describe the atrocities committed against them in those countries at UN meetings. They accused these countries of forcibly separating their children from their parents, putting them in boarding schools to separate them from their culture, civilization and language. They also physically abused them. The human rights of Western countries are not the rights of all.
Perhaps the most terrible mistake the West has ever made on human rights is this: to regard the Western model of democracy and its political system as a universal model for the world.
Some human rights values are universal and shared, but models of human rights practice are not. The UN has adopted many resolutions to recognize diversity and different forms of democracies.
In his speech to commemorate the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “However, we will not accept preaching sermons from those who believe they have the right to lecture us.” The West wants to control human rights discourse and use it as a political weapon against others. In recent years they have done it and now they are stepping up their efforts in sensationalizing human rights in order to demonize China. Human rights have become a cheap tool for the West to tell lies. For example, they fabricate stories, spread rumors, hire pseudo-academics, and financially support anti-Chinese think tanks to make false reports in order to discredit Chin. These are dirty tricks.
When China points out its human rights issues, Western countries accuse China of “propaganda”. The point is, they are the ones who do it. They are launching a propaganda offensive against China with lies and slander to deceive the international community.
GT: As you mentioned, the West has a poor human rights record. Do you have any suggestions for China and other countries to better use the UN Human Rights Council as a platform to expose human rights issues in the United States?
Zhang: On many multilateral occasions, we have seen that more and more developing countries have viewed so-called Western human rights accusations through hypocrisy. They realized that human rights have become a political maneuver of Western countries.
The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were the only four countries opposed to the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Why? Take a look at their vile history and it speaks for itself.
The United States has not ratified several core human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. the rights of persons with disabilities. The United States talks a lot about protecting and promoting human rights, but why aren’t the most fundamental human rights conventions ratified by them? During the review meetings of these conventions, many countries criticized the United States’ human rights problems, as well as the racism in the country. The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights has also criticized human rights issues in the United States.
Therefore, when it comes to human rights issues, we should break the Western control over the power of human rights discourse. We should not be led by the nose by them. We need to expose their lies on more multilateral platforms and present these facts to the world.
GT: Why has China been under more and more attack within the framework of the UN on human rights issues like Xinjiang for some time now? Is this an abuse of the UN platform?
Zhang: This must be analyzed in the context of geopolitics. The United States now sees China as a strategic competitor. On this basis, he launched an all-out crackdown on China to contain our development. He suppressed China in bilateral areas, but also on multilateral occasions.
For the United States, human rights are the cheapest tool. Does Washington really care about the human rights of the people of Xinjiang? No. Its real aim is to use the Xinjiang issues as an excuse to contain China’s development.
There is another reason the attacks on China have escalated. China’s strength is growing, as is its influence on the world stage. In particular, China’s development system, path, concepts and model are becoming more and more attractive to other developing countries.
During the 1970s to 1990s, in their efforts to gain independence, a number of African and Latin American countries accepted the export of the Western political model and practiced Western-style democracy. But has Western-style democracy brought them development? Or a better life? Or a better human rights situation? No.
China does not want to export its model, but the strength of this model is so evident that people who have gone and seen China with their own eyes can understand it. So, many people think that they should learn from the Chinese model of development. It was a big shock to the West. They now feel that their Western-style democracy is under threat.
In addition to China’s growing economic power, what worries the West most is that China’s institutional advantages are increasingly being recognized. Thus, human rights have been seen by the West as a good tool to discredit the advantages of China’s path.