China Sounds the Alarm on U.S. Human Rights Violations

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The United States has positioned itself as the world leader in human rights, often lecturing other nations on their human rights shortcomings. One country is pushing back against this conventional wisdom and condemning America for its own violations. A week after the U.S. State Department released its report on human rights around the world, China released a report titled “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016.” Issued by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, the report cites U.S., UN and NGO sources in condemning America for failing to practice what it preaches.

On the issue of racism, China seems to ask how America can preach to other countries about their human rights records when Black people are treated so badly. Racism persisted and race relations worsened in the U.S., the report concluded, citing a 2016 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council from the UN’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent that America’s racial problems are severe. “The colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remained a serious challenge. Police killings were reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching. The United States was undergoing a ‘human rights crisis,’” the Chinese report said.

China found that the U.S. State Department poses as “the judge of human rights,” wielding “the baton of human rights,” pointing fingers and blaming other countries for their own human rights issues, while ignoring its own “terrible” human rights problems.

“With the gunshots lingering in people’s ears behind the Statue of Liberty, worsening racial discrimination and the election farce dominated by money politics, the self-proclaimed human rights defender has exposed its human rights “myth” with its own deeds,” the report said.

Making its point, China pointed to the prevalence of gun violence in the U.S., including 58,125 gun-related incidents in 2016, including 385 mass shootings, 15,039 deaths and 30,589 injured. The report also pointed to America’s high rate of incarceration, with 693 prisoners per 100,000 — the second-highest rate in the world — and 2.2 million Americans imprisoned as of 2014. Citing the Harvard Law Review, the report said that 70 million Americans, or nearly one in three adults, have been incarcerated and have some form of criminal record.

The human rights report covers other troubling statistics. For example, one in seven Americans remain in poverty and average life expectancy fell from 78.9 years to 78.8 years, the first drop in life expectancy in over 20 years. Police abuse and deaths in custody are high, according to the report, and officers are rarely criminally charged for killing civilians. “About 1,000 civilians are killed by police each year, but only 77 officers have been charged with manslaughter or murder in connection with those deaths between 2005 and 2016,” the report said, citing statistics from The Washington Post.

China also criticized “the hypocritical nature of U.S. democracy,” where there is no guarantee of political rights and “money politics and power-for-money deals” controlled the presidential election. At a cost of $6.8 billion, the 2016 election was the most expensive ever, the report noted, with money in politics triggering a public response of boycotts and protests, revealing the American political system is “full of lies and farces.”

Providing the backdrop for this report is China’s expanded role on the world stage. A most-prominent example is China’s massive investment and trade in Africa, as the U.S. is likely poised to step back even further from the continent under Trump. China is the preeminent power in Africa. In 2015, China’s trade with Africa was $160 billion, as The Economist reported, and approximately 1 million Chinese live and work in Africa.

While the attitude towards Africa in the West is driven by a colonial history, the “White Man’s Burden” and the notion of Africans as hopeless children in need of help, as The National Interest noted, China seeks partnerships out of mutual benefit. China, like any other country, is acting in its own interests. What characterizes this Asian nation is its amoral, lecture-free approach, viewing Africa as long-term business partners. As President Trump is enacting Muslim bans in African nations and is threatening to end trade and foreign aid programs, China is taking the opposite approach. China sponsors more African students than any other nation, according to The Huffington Post, is opening its markets to African produce and is the largest financial-aid donor on the continent. While this is not to say there are no concerns of Chinese exploitation in Africa, China’s strategy is bearing fruit. According to a report last year by Afrobarometer, perceptions of China in Africa are largely positive, with 63 percent of Africans viewing Chinese influence as somewhat or very positive and 15 percent having a somewhat or very negative perception.

As China exerts itself in the global realm and challenges America’s economic, political and diplomatic leadership, perhaps we can expect the nation to issue more reports such as this.

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