China’s media blitz against the world’s disgust at its use of concentration camps to eradicate ethnic minorities continued on Tuesday with a Global Times column complaining critics are too beholden to “morals” and that it is “unrealistic” to expect the Communist Party to respect human rights.
The column in the government-run newspaper appeared on World Human Rights Day.
The U.S. government believes China has imprisoned up to 3 million people – mostly Uyghur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz Muslims – in over a thousand concentration camps built in Xinjiang province, which borders Afghanistan. There, from what reporters and human rights activists have pieced together from the few survivors who have escaped, detainees are subject to torture, rape, communist indoctrination, slavery, and live organ harvesting.
The Chinese Communist Party claimed this week that all detainees had “graduated” from the concentration camps. China insists the camps are “vocational training centers” where underprivileged Muslim youth learn valuable trade skills to participate in the Chinese economy and steer clear of terrorist organizations.
The Global Times lamented on Tuesday that critics of the repressive system – and supporters of the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have raised the Xinjiang issue – “have let values dominate their perceptions of China.”
“[A]n increasing number of Chinese people have realized that it is unrealistic for China to prioritize and pursue Western human rights standards. They may create an adverse impact on China’s socioeconomic development, and sustainable development is a prerequisite for improving human rights,” the newspaper contended.
Those who object to both the use of concentration camps and the rampant police brutality against peaceful protesters in Hong Kong “lack basic respect for China,” the Times continued.
“The context of China’s development of human rights is quite complex, with external factors intervening. We cannot cater to the standards and concerns of the West, but should focus on addressing the most urgent concerns of the Chinese people,” it asserted.
The Times also independently reported on an event China held to observe World Human Rights Day by condemning the United States and international human rights norms.
“China and dozens of other developing nations participating in the South-South Human Rights Forum condemned Western countries of interfering in other country’s internal affairs under the banner of human rights,” the newspaper noted.
The event took place in Beijing and allegedly featured “scholars and diplomats from over 80 Asian, African and Latin American countries and international organizations,” all of whom united in embracing China’s “path of human rights development that is in line with the national conditions” and “Chinese wisdom” in respecting human rights.
The South China Morning Post identified this and many other press engagements by communist officials as a deliberate “PR blitz” against the mounting outrage regarding China’s brazen human rights atrocities, particularly in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
While both problem spots had for years been separate issues – Hong Kong is thousands of miles away from Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi – the Hong Kong protest movement has begun advocating for the rights of Uyghurs. During last weekend’s protest in the autonomous city, which attracted 800,000 people, some protesters held up signs against the use of concentration camps and other repressive tactics in the nation’s west. Similarly, amid the controversy surrounding Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey expressing support for Hong Kong, NBA fans attended games holding up signs with pro-Xinjiang messages such as “Google Uyghurs” alongside pro-Hong Kong statements.
The media campaign the Morning Post identified has mostly fallen in the hands of Foreign Minister Wang Yi and ambassadors in Western states such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Poland, as well as representatives in the United States. At home, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spends significant energy in its regular press briefings attacking America for upholding international human rights norms.
On Tuesday, spokeswoman Hua Chunying took the occasion of World Human Rights Day to declare that “the Chinese people have the best say in the human rights situation in China.”
“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,” Hua argued, failing to bring up the tens of millions killed under Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.
“The Chinese government and people attach great importance to human rights cause, espouse a people-centered view of human rights, integrate the principle of universality of human rights with national conditions, and regard the rights to subsistence and development as its primary and basic human rights,” she claimed.
The Chinese propaganda war to defend its human rights atrocities also included the release of two propaganda films claiming that Xinjiang residents live in peace and harmony after facing the threat of jihadist organizations for decades. The official newspaper of the Communist Party, the People’s Daily, complained on Wednesday that the West largely dismissed the documentaries as propaganda.
“In front of the irrefutable evidence and facts regarding Xinjiang, Western media chose to turn a deaf ear. They would rather believe lies fabricated by the ‘East Turkistan’ [Xinjiang] terrorist forces and anti-China forces than look for and respect the basic facts about Xinjiang,” the People’s Daily said.