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The State Department Report On Human Rights

Above photo: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken speaks on the release of the 2022 Human Rights Report at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2023. Official State Department / Chuck Kennedy / Public Domain.

Blinken knew exactly what he was doing.

The release of the State Department’s “2023 Country Report” on the eve of his arrival in China was no coincidence.

There’s plenty of media coverage on what he came for, and the messages he wanted to deliver but the main thrust of his first day was the wave of media reports on what he felt about China’s human rights record.

In a 1283-word preface, signed by Blinken there are 49 words related to China but these 49 words achieved all the media attention. They were:

The Report documents ongoing grave human rights abuses in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). For example, in Xinjiang, the PRC continues to carry out genocide, crimes against humanity, forced labour, and other human rights violations against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.

So, apparently, we’re to believe there’s still a genocide going on in China – despite there never having ever been a body, a death camp, no logistics to support such a campaign, no witnesses to, and no evidence of, such an event.

As a resident of China, I don’t know if any of the other 199 countries, territories or regions where the US decides to report on issues are correct but one thing I know with absolute certainty is that the information they have on China is not correct – even they admit this in the opening paragraph of the page in the document that relates to China where they say, and I quote: “In many instances few or no details were available”

That lack of information might account for why they have reports (allegations) but never evidence, never proof, only allegations, and, to this day, not one member of the US Department of State has visited the region, despite many invitations to do so.

It gets worse, there are no sources of any repute – one of the allegations of forced organ transplants is Epoch Times, the Falungong Newspaper, one quote relating to violence and harassment of journalists actually says “sources refused to meet journalists”

The reports damn China because, they say: NGOs are required to provide information on their sources of funding – something the USA, and many other countries, have required for many years, as if this was something unusual, there is further incredulity as the State Department criticises a new Chinese law which allows the government to “monitor, defend, and handle cybersecurity risks and threats originating from within the country or overseas sources,” and has criminalised using the internet to “create or disseminate false information to disrupt the economic or social order.” This coming from the country that has just voted on a law to force the sale of, or ban the TikTok social media App.

In clear abuse of their own recognition of the One China policy, the report treats Taiwan as a separate country  and summarises simply with the words “Authorities enforced laws prohibiting human rights abuses and prosecuted officials who committed them.”

It goes on with pages of trite assertions that Taiwan is free of corruption, free of any abuses, has a strong rule of law, and is a place where every law-abiding citizen could feel happy without fear of any abuse or authoritarianism, even those in prison get a fair shake, it looks like the perfect place to live – if only it really were a country!

The United nations has made it clear  that unilateral interference in the affairs of sovereign states must yield to dialogue, therefore, the US has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of any Sovereign nation, let alone all of them! Having said that, if China, or any other country is engaged in genocide, it would be beholden on all of us to engage and prevent the continuation, which begs the question: why haven’t the US engaged with China, why haven’t they sent people to China to look at the situation in Xinjiang, why aren’t they presenting evidence to the International Court of Justice and supporting those allegations with evidence – the answer is simple, they don’t have any.

If we were to look closer at the United States though, we would find what their media doesn’t tell us. It isn’t China that is the problem, it is the land of the free and home of the brave which is in deep hot water with the United Nations.

The United Nations commissioned Human Rights Watch to create a Country report – I’m no fan of HRW and prefer not to cite them when I’m talking about China since they haven’t been here either and use the same sources as the US. But the 2024 Country report they issued  for the United Nations aligns with a similar report issued by the US-based International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  (ICCPR), in November last year.

In summary of that report, one of the authors wrote: “The United States touts itself as a beacon of democracy and human rights, yet the Committee’s findings prove that this could not be further from the truth, underscoring the critical need to prioritise and strengthen human rights at home and establish a National Human Rights Institution to ensure that our most basic rights are protected,”

In other words, Not only is Blinken coming to China with messages that will not be well received, he’s wrapping them in lies that deflect from his own country’s abuses. Perhaps the message that China would like to give him will go something like this:

Instead of looking at China for an imaginary genocide, the International Court of Justice has already told you where to look, there’s a real one in Gaza today;

Instead of looking elsewhere for forced labour, corrupt governance, racial inequality, mass shootings, hate speech, sexual and gender discrimination, increasing poverty, and inaccessible or unaffordable healthcare check inside your own borders where they all exist;

Instead of looking outside America for law enforcement violations and authoritarian police control, look inward where your police kill three people a day on average and you have the world’s largest prison population;

Instead of looking at Russia where there are allegations of separating children from their parents in a war zone, look at the southern border where over 5,000 such cases have been documented and proven.

Instead of blaming China for pollution, look at your own history and your current actions because China is producing your goods and reducing pollution while the US is producing nothing but weapons and increasing pollution;

Instead of accusing others of not having democracy, take a look at your own, where and where the peaceful transition of power failed miserably at your last election, where there is legalised corruption, where Princeton University  admits democracy doesn’t serve the people, where you have proven voter suppression, partisan gerrymandering, voting restrictions, and burdensome voter ID requirements as well as policies with a disproportionate impact on low-income voters, persons with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities. There are also disenfranchisement laws targeting those with felony convictions and “dark money” in elections.

Go overseas and look at how many legally innocent people have been killed in US drone attacks, and how many uncharged people have been arrested and renditioned, a nice word for kidnapped and taken to another country where they can be “legally” tortured and held without charge for 20 years.

In its summary, the report concludes with these damning words: “The breadth of the U.S. violations of the ICCPR is overwhelming. The committee found breaches of the treaty in nearly every aspect of life in the United States. We (the United States) should heed the committee’s recommendations and demand that our federal, state, and local governments in the U.S. comply with our human rights obligations.”

As the Chinese saying goes; for every finger the US points outward, three fingers point inward.

Originally published in John Medadue.

Jerry Grey is a former British Police officer who was a general manager in a multi-national security company based in Australia for 17 years. He has lived, worked, traveled extensively, and studied in China for almost two decades. He holds a Master’s Degree in cross-cultural change management. Jerry Grey is a freelance writer living in Southern China’s Guangdong province.

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