China attacks US racial tensions, police brutality in report

2017-03-10 12:43
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Beijing - China assailed what it called America's "terrible human rights problems," in its annual report on rights abuses in the United States, citing police brutality, high levels of incarceration, racial prejudice and money politics.

The report issued on Thursday by the Information Office of the State Council is a tit-for-tat response to the US State Department's yearly report on human rights around the world that said repression and coercion of those involved in civil and political rights in China remained "severe."

‘Deterioration of race relations’

As in previous years, China's report accused the US of sitting in judgment of the human rights situations in other nations while ignoring its own defects. Mainly citing facts and figures from the US media and civil rights groups, the report focused heavily on what it called a deterioration of race relations in 2016.

"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.

The report specifically mentioned the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police and the killing of five officers in Dallas, Texas, and pointed to a pattern of what it called law enforcement treating people of colour more harshly than whites. It also said blacks and Hispanics were discriminated against in incarceration, employment and education, earning less and facing harsher penalties for violations.

Its final section dealt with what it called "gross violations of human rights in other countries," pointing to reports of civilian deaths from US military action in countries including Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. It also criticized Washington's failure to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the US government's electronic surveillance of other countries and foreign nationals.

China has issued the report every year since 2000 as a means of countering US criticisms.

Civil rights abuses

China, whose population of 1.37 billion is more than 91% Han Chinese, portrays itself as a multi-ethnic state where all groups live in harmony. However, members of the Tibetan and Turkic-speaking Uighur minorities allege rampant discrimination in employment and education and religious minorities including Christians and Muslims are subject to heavy restrictions on their activities.

The one-party authoritarian communist state also brooks no political opposition and heavily polices the internet and public forums, censoring and sometimes imprisoning those perceived to be challenging its authority.

The State Department's report focused mainly on Chinese legal abuses and restrictions on constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, including free speech and freedom of religion. It said China locked up "tens of thousands" of political prisoners, sometimes denying them medical treatment and said authorities continued to harass them even after their release.

Trump’s silence on human rights

Lawyers, dissidents and those petitioning for redress of official abuses have been rounded up, while high profile prisoners such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo remained in prison, the report said.

This year's US report was issued amid concerns the US was backing away from its traditionally vocal advocacy on human rights under President Donald Trump.

In a departure from past practice, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipped the launch of the report.

Trump has made little mention of human rights during his campaign or presidency, and Human Rights Watch, whose research is cited by the State Department in its reports, said his administration's commitment to human rights is already in question due to his policies related to Muslims and his plan to drastically cut the foreign aid budget.


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