At the introduction of the US human rights report, Antony Blinken describes the Uygurs in China as victims of “genocide.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted Uygurs in China’s Xinjiang region as victims of “genocide and crimes against humanity” while launching the State Department’s annual human rights report on Monday, days before he is expected to meet senior officials in Beijing.
Calling such atrocities and those occurring in Myanmar and Sudan “reminiscent of humanity’s darkest moments,” Blinken pledged to keep raising them directly with the governments responsible.
“Countries that respect human rights are more likely to be peaceful, prosperous, stable,” America’s top diplomat said.

The State Department report, which assesses some 200 countries and territories based on standards enshrined in international human-rights agreements, contained an extensive catalogue of China’s alleged violations, as it has for several decades.
China, the report’s preface stated, “continues to carry out genocide, crimes against humanity, forced labour and other human-rights violations against predominantly Muslim Uygurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups”.

Blinken’s remarks come ahead of his trip to Beijing and Shanghai later this week, where he plans to raise the US’s concerns over China’s human rights record, its “unfair economic and trade practices” and the global consequences of the country’s “industrial overcapacity”.

The secretary will “raise human rights at the highest levels and in the clearest way” while in China, said Robert Gilchrist, a senior official at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, on Monday.

In meetings with senior Chinese officials, Blinken also plans to discuss a range of other issues, including the crisis in the Middle East, Russia’s war against Ukraine, Taiwan, and the South China Sea.
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He further called out Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Hamas, Iran, Israel, Nicaragua, Russia, Tajikistan, Uganda and Venezuela in his remarks at the report’s launch.
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Blinken praised progress made in human rights in several countries, including Estonia, Jordan and Japan, and said, as he did last year, that the US “faces its own shortcomings”.
“The strength of democracies like ours is that we address those shortcomings, those imperfections openly, without sweeping them under the rug,” he said.

Monday’s report arrives a month after US President Joe Biden administration’s third “Summit for Democracy” – a gathering of officials from government, business and civil society to “advance democracy, fight corruption and counter authoritarianism”.
Beijing, uninvited, had condemned summit host South Korea’s invitation of Taiwan.
Chinese police pin down and arrest a man during a protest on a street in Shanghai while the country’s zero-Covid policy was in place. Photo: AP
Chinese police pin down and arrest a man during a protest on a street in Shanghai while the country’s zero-Covid policy was in place. Photo: AP
Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China to be reunited by force if necessary. Most countries, including the US, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state, but Washington is opposed to any attempt to take the self-governed island by force and is committed to supplying it with weapons.

As in recent years, the report, which covers events from the previous calendar year, devoted some of its longest sections to China.

Beyond China’s treatment of Uygurs, it critiqued Beijing’s transnational repression of the Chinese diaspora, including students with pro-democracy views; the lack of an independent judiciary; the detention of citizens for “spreading fake news”; the “abusive application” of zero-Covid policy restrictions for journalists; and the harassment of domestic human-rights groups.
The report also noted Beijing’s continued “dismantling” of Hong Kong’s political freedoms and autonomy. In particular, it highlighted the authorities’ enforcement of the 2020 national security law, including the retroactive application of the law and the denial of bail to activists in national-security cases.
In response to the report, Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said: “China is willing to engage in exchanges with the US on human rights, as long as there is mutual respect.”

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But “we firmly oppose interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights”, he added.

Beijing has repeatedly denied Washington’s accusations of human-rights violations, particularly those concerning the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

In recent years, China has issued its own report on US human-rights violations citing American racial discrimination, wealth polarisation and gun and police violence, among others.

“The United States, founded on colonialism, racist slavery and inequality in labour, possession and distribution, has further fallen into a quagmire of system failure,” the State Council Information Office wrote in March last year.

American politicians “wantonly use human rights as a weapon to attack other countries, creating confrontation, division and chaos in the international community”, it added.






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