Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not Quite Harmonious Society

This week China's human rights record was under scrutiny by members of the United Nations.

Each of the 192 member states are evaluated every four years on their human rights records.

And at its presentation, China defiantly told the UN Human Rights Council that its citizens are free to voice their opinions to the press, and any harassment of journalists is punished.

The Chinese delegation led by ambassador Li Baodong also told the February 9 meeting that the government opposes torture and would never allow it to be used against ethnic or religious minorities.

Of course human rights groups totally disagree with his bold statements, but what he is saying is true on paper written in black and white. They just aren't practiced in reality.

Also during the meeting China's allies and countries it sponsors came out to the Middle Kingdom's defense.

Egypt lauded China's "endeavour to protect human rights and socio-economic development", adding "we understand the need of China to keep the death penalty ."

Iran congratulated China's "efforts to promote human rights", and citing "the negative impact of the Internet," encouraged China to tighten censorship to prohibit "defamation of religion."

And Cuba praised China for being "an exceptional country," and urged it to enforce "strict compliance with the law... to prevent people disguised as human rights activists from trying to destroy the state."

However, UN Watch rated the countries and here are the results:

1. Of the 19 countries that had overall positive scores by promoting human rights and universal freedoms, Canada was the only country that ranked as "very constructive".

2. Following close behind were France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States who were described as "constructive".

3. Then there were those countries who were somewhat positive, but considered "weak": Argentina, Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, South Korea and Zambia.

4. The next member states were labeled as "detrimental", with numerous human rights violations: Bolivia, Ghana, Russia, South Africa and Uruguay.

5. Then followed the "very detrimental": Angola, Egypt, Jordan, India, Iran, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.

6. Finally last -- but not least -- are the ones UN Watch say are "destructive", countries that praised, legitimized and encouraged country policies and practices that violate human rights: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Syria, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

So much for ally testimonials...

What's interesting though, is that President Hu Jintao is on a five-nation trip this week, visiting Saudi Arabia, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius.

Birds of a feather flock together?


Anonymous said...

Birds of a feather support each other economically! China is on the forefront of donations, aid and investment in Third World countries. Chinese govt plays it smart, they build bridges, and other billion+ dollar infrastructure projects which earn the gratitude of poorer nations. This keeps China at the top of the list for awarding contracts, etc.

This reminds me of another cliche, "what goes around, comes around" and I do mean money.


Anonymous said...

china emerges from thousands of years of feudal system into a republic state. it is less than 100 years. great strides have been made re: human rights , personal freedom, free speech etc. dont forget just a few decades ago there was still arranged marriages. even now the marriage law of the qing dynasty is still practice in hong kong.

Anonymous said...

Interesting list of bed mates that came to China's defense over its human right issues. These countries are not much better themselves.

Anonymous said...

Funny that someone would mention about arranged marriages when discussing human rights. aren't the usual topics the freedom to speeach, assemble, personal beliefs. Unless these arranged marriages are enforced by the state, comment #2 is out to lunch.

by the way, the issue isn't how quickly china's moving towards democracy (not a republic) but rather how slow they are.