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US State Department criticizes China’s human rights record in latest report

Image: U.S. Department of State
  • The U.S. State Department’s latest global human rights report accused China of meddling in Hong Kong’s political affairs by revising its electoral process and imposing new laws. The department published similar findings in an earlier Hong Kong Policy Act Report on March 31.

  • The report also highlighted the targeting of ethnic minorities in China and Beijing’s efforts to detain overseas critics.

  • Beijing previously published its own report listing human rights violations committed by the U.S., which it accused of “playing with fake democracy.”

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The U.S. State Department has once again accused the Chinese government of several offenses in its latest global human rights report released on Tuesday.

The department’s 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which cited research by diplomats, NGOs and news outlets’ accounts as sources, came less than two weeks after the department released its Hong Kong Policy Act Report, an annual publication mandated by the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.

The report claims Beijing stifled Hong Kong’s independence by revising its district electoral process. Changes were reportedly implemented to ensure “only candidates vetted and approved by Beijing would be allowed to hold office at any level.”

It further alleged that this has resulted in Hongkongers losing their ability “to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections.”

Revisions to the electoral process included the addition of a pro-establishment sector to the Election Committee and the need for Beijing authorization on who could run for office in the local Legislative Council.

The changes took effect with the last elections in December, resulting in pro-Beijing politicians winning 89 of 90 seats. The election saw the lowest voter turnout in Hong Kong since 1997.

The report also highlighted the socio-political impact of the national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in June 2020. Local authorities have invoked the law in the past year to shut down news outlets that are critical of the government. Similar findings can be found in the Hong Kong Policy Act Report, which was published on March 31.

The report also accused China of continuing their abuse of the rights of ethnic minorities, such as the Uyghur people in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has reportedly targeted political enemies living abroad. The report noted how Beijing used corruption probes to force other countries to repatriate Uygurs and critics overseas.

Citing reports from Reuters, the document also said Chinese officials vilified women living overseas who had testified about the plight of Uyghurs.

“We’ve also seen a rise in governments arbitrarily detaining individuals to try to gain leverage in bilateral relationships to use them as human pawns,” said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken during the release of the report. “The Chinese government continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, among other minority groups, to erode fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong and to carry out systematic repression in Tibet.”

In February, Beijing published its own report accusing the U.S. of “playing with fake democracy” and listing its own human rights violations. In the report, China criticized the nation’s pandemic response, the proliferation of gun violence, racial discrimination against Asians, the mistreatment of migrants and its use of force and sanctions against enemies.

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