‘Human rights with Chinese characteristics’ are not human rights at all

10 December 2019 19:00

By Omer Kanat, Executive Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project

In 2017, three days before Human Rights Day on December 10, Beijing hosted the ‘South-South Human Rights Forum.’ The event took place as the Chinese authorities were interning vast numbers of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in concentration camps. More than 300 delegates from 70 countries attended. The outcome document, the ‘Beijing Declaration,’ affirmed states should “choose a human rights development path or guarantee model that suits its specific conditions.” In sum, China sought an international clearance for the concept of ‘human rights with Chinese characteristics’ sublimating individual and collective freedoms to the needs of the state.

The world is learning quickly about the Chinese Communist Party’s vision of human rights. In East Turkestan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Southern Mongolia, Taiwan, and China’s heartland, the Chinese government has met any opposition with repression and destabilization. Indeed, the application of the latest technologies to create a pervasive system of surveillance indicates the party has taken the step of preempting any resistance to its authoritarian rule. The recent leaks of government documents to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and The New York Times lay bare how the party intends to commit cultural genocide against the Uyghur people through “no mercy” policies.

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