UK and US Lead Criticism on Uyghur, Tibet, and Hong Kong Issues
China faced rare scrutiny over its human rights record at the United Nations as the UK, the US, and several other nations spoke out against its policies during the Universal Periodic Review.
UK’s Call for Ceasing Persecution and Arbitrary Detention
The UK urged China to halt the persecution and arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Tibetans, emphasizing the need for genuine freedom of religion, cultural expression, and the cessation of surveillance, torture, forced labor, or sexual violence.
US’s Demand for Release and Cease of Assimilation Policies
The US called for the release of all arbitrarily detained individuals and the end of forcible assimilation policies, highlighting concerns about boarding schools in Tibet and Xinjiang.
Specific Calls Regarding Hong Kong
The UK recommended the repeal of the national security law in Hong Kong and specifically called for dropping the prosecution of pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.
UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review
Mchanism for Regular Human Rights Record Assessment
The Universal Periodic Review, conducted every five years, allows the 193 UN member states to review each other’s human rights records. During this process, countries provide recommendations based on the human rights situation in the reviewed nation.
Limited Time for Recommendations
Each country participating in the UN meeting had 45 seconds to make recommendations based on China’s human rights records since 2018. This period witnessed significant events, including the imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong and increased scrutiny of human rights in Xinjiang.
China’s Response and Ambassador’s Statement
Denial and Accusations of Misunderstanding
China’s UN ambassador, Chen Xu, responded to the recommendations, attributing concerns to “misunderstanding or misinformation.” He accused a few countries of baseless accusations and smears grounded in ideological bias and unfounded rumors.
Dismissal of UN’s Report on Xinjiang
Chen Xu dismissed the UN’s report on Xinjiang, published in August 2022, as “disinformation.” The report, authored by outgoing human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet, highlighted “serious human rights violations” against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Global Perspectives and Divergent Opinions
Countries Criticizing China’s Policies
Several countries, including the UK and the US, voiced criticism of China’s policies in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. The long-delayed UN report on Xinjiang was a focal point in this year’s review.
Praise from Economically Dependent Nations
Countries economically dependent on China, such as Ethiopia and Iran, praised China’s rights record, emphasizing achievements in poverty alleviation. Smaller nations, including Bhutan, commended China’s progress in various areas.
Activists’ Concerns and Criticisms
Concerns About Chinese Government Influence
Human rights activists, including Sophie Richardson, expressed concerns about Chinese government rhetoric influencing recommendations. They highlighted a perceived level of control over the process, indicating potential influence.
Criticism of Central Asian Countries
Zumretay Arkin, spokesperson for the World Uyghur Conference, criticized central Asian countries for their silence on the abuse of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities in Xinjiang. Muslim-majority countries were said to have failed the Uyghurs.
China’s Foreign Ministry’s Response
No Response Yet
China’s foreign ministry has not yet responded to the criticisms and recommendations raised during the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.