China published a “human rights white paper” on Thursday exonerating itself of all accusations of human rights abuses, instead declaring no pre-existing definition of the term “human rights” applies to the country and that the Communist Party brought “national liberation” from Western “colonialism.”
The white paper, publicized through multiple English-language government propaganda outlets, spans 38 pages and gives the Communist Party credit for several counterfeit achievements, such as the alleged eradication of all poverty, the amplification of women’s rights, and the elimination of “re-education through labor.” It also boasts of Beijing’s growing influence at the United Nations and other international venues and declares the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure debt trap targeting underdeveloped countries, a human rights achievement in itself.
The paper appears to be a response to growing condemnation of China sprawling concentration camp system targeting Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, its largest province. Survivors and human rights researchers have accused the regime of imprisoning as many as 3 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and others in concentration camps and implementing a high-tech surveillance system on everyone else in Xinjiang. Among the abuses substantiated by evidence are extensive torture, gang rape, forced sterilization, slavery, and medical testing indicating live organ harvesting.
China denies all human rights violations and refers to its concentration camps as “vocational training centers.” It does not deny allegations of communist indoctrination and forced learning of Mandarin, a language not native to Xinjiang, at the camps.
In the document published Thursday, the government appears to indirectly address the accusations, applauding its “significant effort in ethnic minority education” and claiming it protects only “normal religious activities.”
“China has successively abolished the systems of re-education through labor and of detention education to better protect the personal freedom of its citizens,” the paper added, a direct refutation of regular claims by the Chinese Foreign Ministry that Uyghurs trapped in concentration camps are being “educated” and that its slavery programs are a form of “facilitation of labor.”
“Beginning in 1840, the Western imperialist powers, through war and other aggressive means, forced the Chinese government into hundreds of unequal treaties, regulations and conventions, grabbing territory, demanding reparations and privileges,” the white paper claims, accusing the entire Western world of “colonization and plunder.”
“Western invasion and colonization shackled the Chinese people, trampling on their dignity and putting their very lives in jeopardy … China plunged into stagnation due to a corrupt, incompetent government and ever growing Western aggression,” the white paper continued. “It was eventually reduced to a semi-colonial, semi-feudal state where the people were enslaved and suffered immeasurably.”
Communism, it declared, “ushered in a new era for people’s rights. It put an end to the exploitation, oppression and slavery that had shackled the Chinese nation for a century, and signified the beginning of substantial progress in human rights in a socialist country under the leadership of the [Communist Party].”
The white paper credits the Party with “national salvation,” but notably omits some of the most notable mass murders of the Mao Zedong era, most glaringly the Great Leap Forward, which is believed to have resulted in 45 million deaths.
Similarly, the white paper credited the communist revolution with liberating women through “economic equality in marriage” and “monogamy.” The paper does not mention the notorious, decades-long “one-child policy,” which resulted in the killing of 400 million babies, a large plurality of them believed to be girls due to Chinese families’ preferences for sons. The policy has resulted in the collapse of the nation’s birth rate, as the country lacks enough women of child-bearing age currently to maintain its population. China implemented a “three-child policy” in May.
The white paper did, notably, admit some realities in daily Chinese life, such as the complete lack of legal political opposition.
“In China, in addition to the governing [Communist Party], there are eight other political parties. These are not opposition parties,” the paper admitted, claiming that the outlawing of disagreements with the government has resulted in a superior system to that of Western democracies.
The paper also noted the Communist Party had great interest in imposing itself on the rest of the world.
“It advocates global governance based on extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” it admitted. “It proposes to reverse the present practice of politicizing human rights issues.”
The paper also asserted that the Party “upholds the rights to subsistence and development as the primary and basic human rights,” not the rights to individual civil and political liberties, such as the rights to free expression, practicing religion, or assembly. Universal human rights norms do not apply to China, it concluded, and all “human rights” actions must be taken “in the context of building Chinese socialism.”
“We will develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful;” the Chinese regime promised.