China: Communists, Not Western ‘Crusaders,’ Value Human Rights

In this Oct. 16, 2017 photo, residents pass by a board with the words "Welcome the 19th Co
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The Chinese state media outlet Xinhua published a blistering condemnation of Western “crusader” human rights ideals on Thursday, arguing for the superiority of Chinese “human rights,” defined as “roof over the head” and “food in the belly.”

The article appears amid the week-long Communist Party Congress, an event that occurs once every five years and serves to modify Communist Party ideology to more closely fit the mold of President Xi Jinping’s vision for a China ruled in the long term by his cult of personality.

The Communist Party’s chief policy drafters have already begun codifying “Xi Jinping Thought” into the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) manifesto, summarized by Chinese media as “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”

The author of the Xinhua piece extolling the CPC’s respect for human rights begins echoing Xi’s promise of a “moderately prosperous society.”

“Unfortunately, such a position is frequently misunderstood, misinterpreted or deliberately distorted by Western ‘crusaders,'” the piece laments. “They would do well to stop pointing their crooked fingers at China and open their eyes to reality.”

“For most Chinese, human rights mean a roof over the head, literacy for all, food in the belly, expectation of reasonable health care in case of sickness, bright future for the children, and optimism for the old,” the article goes on, before blaming Western human rights norms for the European migrant crisis and decrying “sanctimonious observers who seem to only pay attention to abuses in developing countries.”

The article does not deny that China engages in such abuses, nor does it mention the nation’s rampant oppression of political and religious expression. Instead, it argues that living under a government that fully controls every aspect of an individual’s life is the only true human right.

“Common prosperity is the very definition of socialism with Chinese characteristics and perhaps the most fundamental human rights of all,” the article declares.

The author concludes by urging Westerners to replace their free political systems with “Chinese democracy.”

The rant published Thursday is slightly less specific or targeted than its usual attacks on the United States for allegedly violating the human rights of its citizens. In March, for example, the Chinese government published a seven-part report detailing America’s “human rights crisis,” including alleged police brutality and racism.

China has published such a report almost every year in the past decade. Among its most egregious allegations was one written in the 2014 report, in which Beijing claimed that the American government was guilty of human rights violations because of the continued existence of Jimmy Kimmel Live, a program China claimed promoted “racial hatred.”

In contrast, Chinese officials have condemned demands by the international community that the communist North Korean regime improve its human rights record, calling the demands “unreasonable criticism.”

Most international human rights NGOs agree that China is among the world’s most prolific human rights abusers.

All Chinese citizens are held to a two-child family limit, leading to an estimated 23 million forced abortions per year in the country. China also imposes intense restrictions on religious minorities, from closely controlling Christian church sermons to widespread espionage against Muslim Uighur citizens. It routinely arrests and “disappears” political dissidents.

In a recent high-profile episode of human rights abuse, the Chinese government used its propaganda outlets to condemn an outcry in response to the death of advocate Liu Xiaobo, who died in prison for expressing disapproval of the communist regime. “Dissidents exiled overseas accused the Chinese government of removing any trace of Liu Xiaobo through having a sea burial, and instigated the message that his death be turned into an ‘opportunity’ to change China,” a Global Times article argued. “Most of these losers, increasingly marginalized overseas, are trying every means to reboot their image.”

The CPC Congress began on Wednesday with an extensive three-hour speech by Xi Jinping, followed by drafting into procedural format the ideas he presented, titled “Xi Jinping Thought.” “The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” as Xi Jinping Thought is alternatively known, “builds on and further enriches Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development,” Xinhua reported.

Mao’s Great Leap Forward killed 45 million people in four years, according to scholars studying the event—a fact the Chinese Communist Party has not yet addressed at its congress.

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