Chinese Propaganda Outlet: San Antonio Migrant Deaths a ‘Stain on Washington’s Human Rights Record’

The front page of a Chinese newspapers showing the picture of the inauguration of US Presi
Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images, Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

China’s regime-run Global Times communist propaganda outlet condemned the discovery of at least 51 dead people, who had been attempting to illegally enter the United States, on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, as a “stain on Washington’s human rights record” despite overwhelming evidence that the deaths were the product of extralegal human trafficking, not actions by the American government.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned America for its “poor track record on migrant issues” and demanded the United States act to “protect human rights” in the wake of the tragedy.

San Antonio police revealed on Monday night that a local worker had found a tractor-trailer on a nearby backroad carrying at least 60 migrants, including children. Among those, 48 were found already dead. At least two others died after the discovery of the truck despite medical intervention. The truck appeared to be part of a human trafficking operation meant to bring thousands of Mexicans, Central Americans, and others into the United States. Police believe the migrants suffocated from the extreme heat in the truck.

China is a repressive communist state that attracts little international migrant interest. The few expatriates in the country suffer extreme persecution and abuse in various forms, from widespread racism against Africans in migrant enclaves like Guangzhou to the sex trafficking of North Korean refugee girls and women seeking to flee to South Korea, enslaved in brothels with little hope that police will act to save them.

The Global Times did not address the horrors of Chinese brothel owners or human traffickers in its condemnation of “Uncle Sam” on Tuesday. It instead argued in an editorial that the San Antonio incident should lead the world to ignore any human rights advocacy that the American government undertakes, particularly with regard to atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

“For many poor people from the developing world, the American dream is so beautiful and promising that they are willing to risk entering the US through dangerous means,” the Chinese government outlet asserted, claiming that the deaths were the result of “inhumane abuses of migrants” at the hands of the American government and not addressing the brutality of coyotes, or human traffickers along the southern U.S. border.

Human trafficking crimes were “one of the significant stains on Washington’s human rights record,” the editors of the Chinese government newspaper claimed.

“Instead of reflecting on and changing the horrible treatment of migrants, Uncle Sam has chosen to upgrade his abuses against these people,” the editorial accused. “As a result, the road to the US for the migrants looks more like a highway to hell now. And even if some of these people manage to reach the US, the American dream they pursue quickly becomes a nightmare of systematic discrimination, exploitation, violence, and even death.”

The editorial referred to America as “hell” on three occasions.

“It is hilarious that as a country obsessed with boasting of its ‘human rights,’ the US is not interested in making greater efforts to improve its human rights conditions,” the Global Times concluded.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian – who is notorious for developing the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the Chinese coronavirus originated in Maryland and the U.S. government used vaping injuries to hide its origin – similarly condemned Washington over the deaths in San Antonio on Wednesday.

“The tragedy is heartrending. What is even more regrettable is that such tragic deaths of migrants did not happen by accident in the U.S.,” Zhao told reporters, according to the Chinese government’s transcripts of the Foreign Ministry’s regular press briefing on Wednesday. “The US locks up migrants in detention centers with dreadful living conditions, where migrants are often subject to abuse, violence and other types of inhumane treatment. The US’s brutal law enforcement led to 557 migrant deaths during fiscal year 2021, more than doubling the figure for fiscal year 2020.”

“The US needs to seriously reflect on and address its poor track record on migrant issues, take concrete actions to protect human rights and other basic rights of migrants, and prevent such tragedies from happening again,” Zhao demanded.

China’s poor economy, deplorable human rights record, and lack of opportunity even for its own citizens do not make it a magnet for immigration in the same way that the United States is. It does attract a significant number of North Korean refugees seeking to eventually make their way to a free South Korea. As of 2019, experts estimated that the vast majority of these refugees, over 74 percent, fall into human trafficking situations.

In a report published that year, the nonprofit Korea Future Initiative found that about 60 percent of North Korean girls and women who flee to China are forced into sex slavery.

“Victims are prostituted for as little as 30 Chinese yuan ($4.30; £3.40), sold as wives for just 1,000 yuan, and trafficked into cybersex dens for exploitation by a global online audience,” Yoon Hee-soon, who authored the report, explained.

“Among them, around 50 percent are forced into sex trafficking, over 30 percent sold into forced marriages, and 15 percent forced to engage in cybersex,” Providence magazine noted at the time, citing the study. Providence noted that China refuses to acknowledge North Koreans as refugees and repatriates them if they inconvenience the state, often resulting in their execution.

Legal immigrants and visitors may not fall prey to largely unpoliced sex trafficking but do face other challenges, such as intense racism. At the height of the first wave of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, reports began surfacing out of the southern city of Guangzhou — known for its relatively large African population — of businesses banning black people from patronizing them and hotels and landlords expelling them.

“I’ve been sleeping under the bridge for four days with no food to eat … I cannot buy food anywhere, no shops or restaurants will serve me,” Tony Mathias, a Ugandan student, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) at the time. Despite being able to afford an apartment or hotel room, many Africans find themselves sleeping on the streets because the native Han population of the city has embraced the idea that black people spread the Chinese coronavirus. The Chinese coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China — a city with a negligible non-Han population — in late 2019. No evidence suggests that black people are more or less likely to spread coronavirus in China than the Han.

“There’s just this crazy fear that anybody who’s African might have been in contact with somebody who was sick,” AFP quoted a black Canadian in Guangzhou as saying in 2020.

The Chinese government rejected accusations of racism in light of the blatant discrimination against black-skinned people in Guangzhou, dismissing the widespread bigotry as “isolated incidents” and “misunderstandings.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.