China’s Global Times, a government-run newspaper, declared the United States “a Third-World country” on Tuesday in an opinion piece claiming the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, proved Americans have no respect for human rights.
The opinion piece is the second in a series attempting to impugn the American democratic governing system for the tragedy, which has officially claimed 12 lives so far but is expected to yield a much larger death toll as 149 people who lived in the building remain missing. Inspection documentation surfacing in the aftermath of the disaster indicates that the Champlain Towers South had endured significant structural damage with limited repair for years.
The Global Times, on Tuesday and in its prior attack on the United States focused on the incident, compared the situation to infrastructure in China, claiming Chinese rescue operations and regulations prevent such catastrophes. The articles notably omitted the Communist Party’s complicity in several major disasters, including the 2015 explosion of a factory in the metropolis of Tianjin in 2015, which the Party claimed killed 173 people. Party officials had routinely allowed significant industrial protocol violations at the site.
The rescue operations in Florida, the Global Times proclaimed, are “a blatant disrespect and disregard for life.”
“The US’ human rights fairy tale cannot hold water anymore. No matter how Washington brags, the results show the US’ attention has not been devoted to the basic protection of people’s lives,” the propaganda outlet claimed. “In some ways, the current U.S. seems like a ‘third-world country:’ Charles Burkett, mayor of Surfside, Florida, said on Thursday that ‘Buildings like this do not fall in America. This is a third-world phenomenon and it’s shocking.'”
“China’s human rights view has effectively guaranteed people’s well-being and prosperous life, while the US’ human rights boast aimed at showing off without substantial measures,” the state newspaper concluded. “In the face of lost lives, the self-claimed ‘beacon of human rights’ has fallen.”
“How can Washington talk about human rights when even life is threatened?” the author asked.
China is the world’s worst human rights abuser, maintaining over 1,200 concentration camps in its westernmost region, Xinjiang, that it has used to repress and eliminate the indigenous Uyghur ethnic minority there. Chinese companies sell Uyghurs as slaves through government websites openly, as human rights activists have documented, and doctors who have escaped Xinjiang have testified to Chinese Communist Party officials launching a campaign to sterilize all Uyghur women and to sell the “halal” organs of Muslim political prisoners to wealthy foreign buyers.
Unlike the blatant human rights abuses committed by Beijing – which the Communist Party only partially denies – no evidence at press time suggests that the federal government of the United States played any role in the Surfside collapse.
That did not stop the Global Times from claiming in an earlier article that Chinese “netizens” – social media users whose opinions the Communist Party approves of – were outraged by the ongoing rescue efforts in Florida, claiming that Chinese officials would do a better job.
The Communist Party’s infrastructure record does not reflect the Global Times‘ claims. Last summer, thousands of people in the Chinese heartland, most of them rural villagers, lost their homes or were otherwise displaced in the long term due to devastating floods. The floods themselves did not cause the displacement, however – the government deliberately destroyed smaller dams along the Yangtse River, with minimal warning to those affected, in an attempt to save the Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric plant and a crowning achievement in communist infrastructure, one that Beijing has repeatedly fended off growing engineering concerns about, as satellite photos indicate significant disfigurement at the site.
Similarly, the 2015 Tianjin explosion, which resulted in a force equivalent to the detonation of 21 tons of TNT hitting the city, occurred because the company responsible was housing illegal amounts of flammable materials at the site of the explosion with no significant Communist Party intervention.
Yangcheng, China, experienced a similar disaster four years later, indicating that Party officials had done little to strengthen regulation of industrial safety laws. A pesticide plant in the city exploded in March of that year, killing 47 people.
Despite its totalitarian nature, the Communist Party has also failed to prevent catastrophes triggered by poor law enforcement in arenas outside of infrastructure. In 2018, Chinese parents nationwide were notified that the vaccine manufacturer Changsheng Biotechnology had administered nearly 1 million faulty or deliberately watered-down doses of rabies, and other vaccines, to children, leaving them immunocompromised.
The scandal prompted such outrage that, in one incident, a mob of angry parents publicly beat a Communist Party official over the Party’s failure to regulate one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical programs, with little condemnation from Beijing. That scandal has sowed deep distrust among the Chinese public of Chinese-made vaccine products, which has proven a challenge for the Communist Party’s attempts to promote its homemade vaccines against Chinese coronavirus.