Posted: Saturday, July 4, 2020. 10:39 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s foreign ministry and state media are declaring a victory of sorts with their latest move — the new national security law imposed on Hong Kong, the special administrative protectorate it has been in charge of since 1997, according to the International Business Times.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session held in Geneva, two camps were heard from: the pro-China bloc represented by Cuba and the anti-China block represented by the United Kingdom.
The final vote went 53-27 for the pro-China bloc. The critics cited harsh penalties for vaguely defined political crimes and claimed it was the death knell for Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The United States had withdrawn from the UNHRC, which is aimed at promoting and protecting human rights around the world, in June 2018, claiming the council was “hypocritical and self-serving”. In April, China was appointed to a UNHRC panel where it will play a key role in picking the world body’s human rights investigators.
Of the list obtained by American news website AXIOS, only Belize and Canada from the Western Hemisphere were in opposition. Most of the others are European countries and major democracies like Australia, Canada, and Japan.
Supporters from the region included Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Nicaragua, Suriname, and Venezuela. Many others expressed no opinion.
The IBT says China’s backers included countries cast as dictatorships (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Syria) and smaller free countries which are expected to benefit from China’s multi-trillion-dollar endeavor, the Belt and Road Infrastructure project, that will offer vast amounts of financial aid and loans to poor countries. A number of African countries stood in support, many seeking to renegotiate debt payments to China while their economies recover from COVID-19 related downturns.
U.S. representative to UNHRC from 2014-17 Keith Harper stated that some countries voted in favor of China because “they will get better deals if they are in the good graces of China,” and “there’s no detriment there because the U.S. isn’t at the table.” Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, said China is attempting to silence critics of its record on human rights plus “change the norms and the protocols of these institutions so that no state really can be held accountable.” She said, “One interesting question to ask is, ‘Who’s not on that list who has been on China’s team in the past, and why?'” AXIOS’s Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian noted, “Beijing has effectively leveraged the UNHRC to endorse the very activities it was created to oppose.”
China’s foreign ministry commented on the U.K.’s decision to offer citizenship to eligible Hongkongers by saying the country would “bear the consequences that will arise from this.”
India, who recently banned Chinese mobile apps, offered a statement “expressing concern,” about the law that was taken as a signal of its growing willingness to confront China.
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