Following Alaska Fiasco, Blinken Suggests China Right on U.S. Human Rights Record

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a virtual meet and greet with US embassy staff at the US Ambassador's residence in Tokyo on March 16, 2021. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Kim Kyung-Hoon/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Tuesday that the United States must confront human rights abuses within its borders, including “systemic racism,” after China criticized America for mistreating blacks.

China lectured America on human rights during the first in-person meeting between Biden administration officials, including Blinken, and their Chinese counterparts earlier this month in Alaska.

While briefing reporters about the March 18 meeting, Yang Jiechi, a member of China’s Communist Party’s Politburo, urged the U.S. to “do better on human rights ….instead of deflecting the blame” and accused America of mistreating blacks.

Blinken’s comments on Tuesday suggested that he agreed with China on America’s human rights record.

The secretary spoke to reporters about the U.S. State Department’s annual release of its Country Reports on Human Rights, noting:

We will hear from some countries [such as China ], as we do other years, that we have no right to criticize them because we have our own challenges to deal with. Well, we know we have work to do at home that includes addressing profound inequities, including systemic racism.

We don’t pretend these problems don’t exist or try to sweep them under the rug. We don’t ignore them. We deal with them in the daylight with full transparency.

Blinken went on to note that what separates America’s democracy from autocracies like China’s is the United States’ ability and willingness to deal with its human rights challenges “out in the open.”

“The way we confront our challenges at home will give us greater legitimacy in advocating for human rights abroad,” the secretary of State added.

For years, China has responded to the State Department’s annual report on human rights with contempt for mentioning Beijing’s violations. China recently started releasing its own annual assessment of human rights in the United States, criticizing America for “racial discrimination.”

This year, the human rights reports from the U.S. and China covered violations in 2020.

On Tuesday, Blinken highlighted China’s human rights abuses as mentioned in the report, including violations against its predominantly-Muslim Uighur minority population in Xinjiang province and dissidents in Hong Kong.

Blinken said:

The report we’re releasing today shows that that trend lines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction. We see evidence that in every region of the world, this is happening. We see it in the genocide being committed against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other religious minority groups in [China’s] Xinjiang.

He also called out Russia for human rights violations, including attacks against journalists.

Asked by a reporter how he plans to counteract “criticism” of the new U.S. human rights report from China and Russia, Blinken responded that America is “not standing against” those two countries, adding:

We’re not trying to, for example, contain China or keep it down, What we are about is standing up for basic principles, basic rights, and a rules-based international order that has served us and countries around the world very, very well.

“When any country, in whatever way, seeks to undermine those rights or undermine that order, yes, we will stand and speak out forcibly about it,” he also said.

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