China hits back at 'prejudiced' U.S. with own rights criticism

Elias Hubbard
March 15, 2019

The United States is considering sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations against Muslims in China's Xinjiang region, a U.S. State Department spokesman said on Thursday, calling it a "great shame for humanity".

China on Thursday issued its annual tit-for-tat on human rights in the USA, relying heavily on American media reports, including from outlets that the Chinese government frequently condemns for critical reporting on its own country.

"For me, you haven't seen things like this since the 1930s", Michael Kozak, the head of the State Department's human rights and democracy bureau told the same briefing, referring to abuses of China's Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.

"Rounding up, in some the millions of people, putting them into camps, and torturing them, abusing them, and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion and so on from their DNA", he said. "It's just remarkably terrible", Reuters quotes the ambassador.

China has faced growing global opprobrium for what it says are vocational training centres in Xinjiang, a vast region bordering central Asia that is home to millions of ethnic minority Muslims.

The human rights situation in China has "never been better", China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing on Thursday, a day after the United States issued a report criticizing human rights violations in the Asian country.

Both foreign and Chinese journalists in China are frequently blocked from reporting freely.

The administration of President Donald Trump has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party boss there who, as a member of the powerful politburo, is in the upper echelons of China's leadership.

It said authorities there were reported to have arbitrarily detained between 800,000 and possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslims in camps, with the aim of erasing religious and ethnic identities. The Iranian government a year ago killed more than 20 people and illegally arrested thousands for protesting for their rights, he said.

He said in South Sudan, military forces inflicted sexual violence against civilians based on their political allegiances and ethnicity, while peaceful protesters in Nicaragua had been fired on by snipers and government critics had "faced a policy of exile, jail or death". The report also strongly criticized Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, all of which are adversaries of the U.S. China, as it did here, has typically responded to the yearly American report by pointing to human rights violations in the U.S.

China also, ironically, attacked the USA for its assault on press freedom, pointing to Trump's demonization of the media and popularization of the term "fake news".

Meanwhile, Pompeo's own stance against evil in the world was undercut by the preface to the report, in which he writes: "The policy of this administration is to engage with other governments, regardless of their record, if doing so will further USA interests".

The report also accused the government of arbitrary or unlawful killings, forced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention.

While this excerpt may make it appear as though one-third of those who ran for office previous year in the United States were public Islamophobes, the Guardian article was actually reporting on a survey from the group Muslim Advocates which specifically looked at 80 campaigns across the USA that were run by candidates who engaged in anti-Muslim campaign attacks. It said it did not know how many children were affected.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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