Chinese netizens have taken to Weibo to vent about the Chinese government on a range of issues following its retaliation against the U.S. over damning accusations of human rights abuses.
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department released its 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which detailed China’s multiple offenses ranging from the stifling of Hong Kong’s democracy in the east to the genocide of Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities in the west.
In response, Beijing on Wednesday declared a list of Washington’s supposed human rights abuses, including “failed gun control, discrimination against immigrants, war crimes in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, as well as the terrible handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused more 985,000 deaths of American people.”
Shortly after their government’s response, some Chinese netizens, in what can be perceived as an unusual move, took to Weibo to accuse local authorities of hypocrisy.
“Look at yourself in the mirror and see how you’re treating the people. (You) keep staring at American news all day,” one Weibo user wrote, as per Mothership. “People in Shanghai are lacking groceries and medicine. (You) simply lock down the city at the drop of a hat.”
The user continued: “Do you know that the U.S. is giving out COVID antiviral pills for free? They have already opened up and are living with the virus, and yet (you’re) trying to buy this trending topic to forcefully salvage some of (your) pride?
“Really shameless, you can’t even provide an explanation for the chained woman incident. Actually, it’s China that’s the most autocratic country in the world that lacks human rights, no other country can surpass it!”
Other users referred to the incident, among other issues that beset Chinese society.
“Yes yes yes, a woman in the U.S. was chained up and forced to give birth to eight children,” one Weibo user wrote, sarcastically citing the U.S. as the abuser. “Later the government even rewarded the man who chained her up by building him a house and giving him money.”
The user continued: “Americans are all working 996, the labor law is just there for show, and there’s no labor union. Their mortgage interest rates are the highest.
“In the middle of a lockdown, their people were still forced to repay their housing loans even though they couldn’t feed themselves. The American government is really too evil, too scary, fortunately I live in China.”
Meanwhile, others mocked their government’s draconian censorship policies.
“Apologies, this post has already been deleted by the author. This content is unable to be viewed right now. The author has customized the comments’ settings. This video is no longer available, the user does not exist,” one user wrote, echoing notices on deleted controversial posts.
Another user summed up the situation: “You’ll be censored if you tell the truth.”
On Thursday, a rare protest took place in Shanghai as residents of an apartment complex blocked the government’s mandate to make certain buildings house COVID-19 patients.
“The police are hitting people,” voices heard over a livestream footage said. Some also yelled “bring them back,” referring to people taken to a white van.
In Shanghai, the people are beginning to see that they are being oppressed. But unfortunately they can only protest by begging for their lives, if you do that too much as well you would be dragged to a concentration camp. pic.twitter.com/HAIwpEEx8R
— WumaoHub (@WumaoHub) April 15, 2022
Meanwhile, some human rights activists focused on China have called on the State Department to address blind spots in its report and provide connections to policies and initiatives that would halt the offenses.
“It’s a descriptive, objective document but largely of human rights developments that had been already extensively reported by the media, by NGOs, and by human rights bodies within the UN and in many cases at greater detail and length. … It is essentially a recap,” Sharon Hom, executive director of the New York City-based nonprofit Human Rights in China, told Politico.
“Since it appears to take quite a bit of resources to produce each year, I’d say that going forward, they reference and aggregate some of the developments within three very important, bigger trends like digital authoritarianism, [foreign] influence operations, and [China’s] growing extraterritorial reach.”