Dec 10, 2019

On Tuesday, International Human Rights Day, spokesperson Hua Chunying mounted a familiar defense of China’s rights record at the ’ regular press conference:

Q: It’s the Human Rights Day today. Certaincountry raises concerns over and criticize human rights in China. How do you respond?

A: Relevant country has made irresponsible accusations about China’s human rights situation in disregard of basic facts. China is firmly opposed to that.

The Chinese people have the best say in the human rights situation in China. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The past 70 years witnessed sea change in China and historic progress in its human rights cause. Seventy years ago, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people realized liberation and became their own masters. Over the past 70 years, the Chinese nation has found its feet and become prosperous and strong. The Chinese government and people attach great importance to human rights cause, espouses a people-centered view of human rights, integrates the principle of universality of human rights with national conditions, and regards the rights to subsistence and development as its primary and basic human rights, opening a new path of human rights protection with Chinese characteristics based on its national conditions. We ensure enough food and clothing for nearly 1.4 billion people, cut impoverished population by 850 million, provide employment for 770 million people, and offer basic security to 250 million elderly, 85 million persons with disabilities and more than 60 million persons that receive urban or rural minimum living subsidies. We have made a historic leap from poverty to adequate food and clothing, and to a moderately prosperous society for around 1.4 billion people. Besides, we have developed the largest national education system, largest social security system, largest medical system and largest community-level democracy system in the world, which composes an epic of China’s human rights progress, offers solutions for international human rights protection and enrich the diversity of human civilization. This is an undeniable truth for all impartial persons. [Source]

Hua went on to note that the MoFA and State Council Information Office would host the "2019 South-South Human Rights Forum" this week "with a view to adding new dimensions and injecting impetus into exchange and cooperation in the field of human rights." Her comments also included notice that the cases of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been referred for prosecution on charges involving state secrets. She also responded to a question about American officials’ comments on China’s ongoing mass detentions in Xinjiang:

The remarks made by relevant people on the US side once again remind us of the fact that the US is not only a superpower in today’s world, but also a super liar.

[…] The Uighur ethnicity is part of the big family consisting of 56 ethnic groups in China, tightly united together like the seeds of a pomegranate. They are living a better life and fully enjoy the freedom and rights. China also enjoys friendly and close relations with the vast majority of Muslim countries in the world. It is understandable for the US to be envious. However, it is unacceptable if it is spreading rumors to smear and slander us. [Source]

Hua’s argument that "the Chinese people have the best say in the human rights situation in China" echoes the claim made by Xi Jinping in Moscow in 2013 that "’only the wearer knows if the shoe fits.’ As for whether a country’s developmental path fits, only the people of that country have the right to say." A number of online commenters subsequently complained that they had not been adequately consulted about the figurative comfort of their footwear. One, Wuyuesanren (@五岳散人), commented on Weibo:

My take on the shoe-and-foot question: Whoever buys the shoes has the last word. The common people pay taxes, so they have the right to say whether or not the shoe fits, as well as the style they want. A well-chosen pair of shoes also comes with a warranty and the privilege to exchange or return the items. The shoes themselves don’t have the qualifications to say whether they fit or not. Shoes that do aren’t shoes, they’re shackles. [Source]