Is repression newest China ‘export’ to trade partners?

Saturday January 18 2020

A supporter of China's Muslim Uighur minority holds a placard of Arsenal's Turkish origin German midfielder Mesut Ozil reading "Thanks for being our voice" during a demonstration at Beyazid square in Istanbul on December 14, 2019. PHOTO | OZAN KOSE | AFP


In addition to a documented bad human rights record back home, China is now being called out for its stranglehold on especially weaker economies that rely on its foreign direct investment (FDI), trade and aid.

The Human Rights Watch said China had established an assault on the global system for defending human-rights.

According to an official with Human Rights Watch, decades of rights around the world were at stake because of China.

In the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020, the Chinese government is described as making technology central to its repression with sustained “vast surveillance state in its efforts to achieve total social control” in China.

But away from home, the report accuses China of increasingly using its economic and diplomatic clout to cause distress on other populations.

“Beijing has long suppressed domestic critics,” observed Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch, while launching the report in New York on Wednesday. “Now the Chinese government is trying to extend that censorship to the rest of the world.”


He said “other governments (particularly in Africa) have been bought off through Chinese FDI, trade and aid, and through China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China is quite willing to use money to force censorships whether of governments or businesses by threatening to deny them access to the Chinese market and other benefits.”

He calls on governments to band together and challenge Beijing’s repression. Beijing blocked the report’s launch initially planned to take place in Hong Kong, after Mr Roth was barred from entering China where he was supposed to officially launch the 2020 HRW report.

HRW was scheduled to release the 652-page report that reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries, at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong but was forced to move it back to the UN in New York.

The report highlighted abuses against especially Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in the northwestern Xinjiang region, as well as Tibet.

HRW estimates that at least one million Muslims are being indefinitely held in “political education” camps, where they are forced to disavow their identity and swear loyalty to the Communist Party.

Mr Roth cited many other threats, including in Syria and Yemen, where government forces from Syria, Russia, and the Saudi-led coalition blatantly disregard the international rules designed to spare civilians, including the prohibitions against attacking civilians and bombing hospitals.