China’s Assessment of Human Rights in America

Every year, the United States releases its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which assess the human rights records of every other state and almost-state on the planet.

And, every year, the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China releases its own report, assessing the human rights record of precisely one country: the United States.

China’s report on the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 was just released, and, as always, it gives a funhouse mirror’s eye-view of the U.S.’s record. The report is an unapologetic retaliation against the U.S.’s “malicious design to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights”, and contains a hodgepodge of truths, half-truths, and extremely dubious statistics. It also collects approximately every negative statistic about the U.S. that any report has ever found, conveniently compiling them into one rather unshocking exposé. It is also hypocritical, of course, but that is not worth noting — any human rights assessment of another nation is bound to be hypocritical, unless maybe if you’re Sweden or Denmark or somewhere hippy like that. The problem with the Chinese report is therefore not the amount of hypocrisy it contains, but rather the amount of batshit craziness. A few of my favorite passages are as follows:

The census report released on September 16, 2010 showed that working women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

Shhh, careful there, China. Wouldn’t want the MRAs to hear you make such claims, or they’ll leave lots of nasty comments on your blog.

Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on earth has a rate that is higher.

You know, I guess it is probably true that no nation on earth is more likely to have a citizen be a victim of crime in the United States than the United States is. That is the only to read those sentences that makes any sort of sense at all.

The number of American people without health insurance increased progressively every year.

China must have missed the news that we’re Socialists, now.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on November 19, 2010 that a large group of human rights organizations prepared to hold a vigil in South Georgia in support of suspected illegal immigrants being held in a prison in Lumpkin.

Ah, good old Lumpkin County. As goes Lumpkin, so goes the nation.

The ACLU and the U.S. Travel Association have been getting thousands of complaints about airport security measures.

Allowing domestic civil rights groups and private citizens to complain about their government with impunity is definitely a sign of human rights abuses.

A report on The Wall Street Journal on September 7, 2010, said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was sued over its policies that allegedly authorize the search and seizure of laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices without a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The policies were claimed to leave no limit on how long the DHS can keep a traveler’ s devices or on the scope of private information that can be searched, copied or detained. There is no provision for judicial approval or supervision.

And the founding fathers’ failure to plug up the border search exception is iron-clad proof that they had zero respect for human liberty.

Minority groups confront discrimination in their employment and occupation. The black people are treated unfairly or excluded in promotion, welfare and employment.

The black people?

The New York Times reported on April 26, 2010 that Wal-Mart was accused of systematically paying women less than men, giving them smaller raises and offering women fewer opportunities for promotion in the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history.

Allowing judicial redress for claims of wrongful discrimination is yet another blatant sign of political oppression.

Bullying is most prevalent in third grade, when almost 25 percent of students reported being bullied two, three or more times a month.

American Third Grade Classrooms: Fourth Member of the Axis of Evil.

Almost 1.8 million [children] are abducted and nearly 600,000 children live in foster care.

That’s right. 1.8 million children are abducted every year, and the U.S. is doing nothing to stop it. Why won’t someone think of the children!

Pornographic content is rampant on the Internet and severely harms American children.

Only by implementing firewalls that censor 90% of the internet can a nation truly protect human rights. And the children.

While advocating Internet freedom, the U.S. in fact imposes fairly strict restriction on cyberspace. On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which will give the federal government ‘absolute power’ to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency… The United States applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted ‘Internet freedom’ in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory.

Wait, what the hell? Where on earth did China get that idea…

Handing government the power to control the Internet will only be the first step towards a greatly restricted Internet system, whereby individual IDs and government permission would be required to operate a website (Prison Planet.com, June 25, 2010).

Ohhhhh, well that explains a lot.

As a final note, report is also apparently blind to the irony that China’s access to these facts about the U.S. human rights record is only possible due to the U.S.’s liberal stances towards freedom of speech.

However, while the U.S.’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices is an invaluable resource for monitoring the protections afforded to human rights worldwide, and one that is not currently matched by any other state or NGO, the Country Reports do inevitably and unavoidably leave the United States wide open to charges of hypocrisy and double standards. And that’s fine — there definitely is something hypocritical about highlighting others’ failures where you yourself still have work to do. But the United States has acknowledged and to some extent embraced its critics’ charges:

We do not consider views about our performance voiced by others in the international community to be interference in our internal affairs, nor should other governments regard expressions about their performance as such. Indeed, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the right and the responsibility of ‘every individual and every organ of society to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.’

Self-criticism has never been a natural talent of sovereigns, and it is a safe bet that if the U.S. did include a self-assessment of its human rights record, it would have been nothing more than a philosophical puff-piece or abstract celebration of Freedom Yay!! — as was, say, the U.S.’s report of its human rights records, submitted to the UNHRC in November, 2010. So to the extent that there is a void where it comes to examining America’s human rights record, China — and Russia — are not wrong. But the solution is not to call on the U.S. to stop highlighting others’ failures, but to have more even states join in on the fun so that they, too, can call out the human rights abuses of other nations whenever they get the chance.

Like, for instance, the U.S.’s treatment of PFC Manning. I still don’t get how the Chinese report went for over 13 pages, and never once mentioned that.

-Susan

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