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China rebuffs U.S. ‘human rights’ study

Published Mar 13, 2006 10:29 PM

U.S ruling circles use concern over human rights as a political and ideological weapon against anyone challenging them. The “human rights” gambit was honed during the Cold War and now is employed against a wide range of countries—from China and Russia to Belarus, Iran, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Cuba—to serve the needs of U.S. foreign policy.

One of the highpoints of Washington’s use of this tactic is the annual State Department report on human rights, released this year with grand fanfare March 8.

The U.S. government tries to use alleged human rights violations to justify its interventions and threats to intervene. Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti are three recent examples. This alleged concern for democracy and other high ideals lets Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice say with a straight face: “Our promotion of human rights and democracy is in keeping with America’s most cherished principles and it helps to lay the foundation for lasting peace in the world.”

But Abu Ghraib prison, with many of its most horrifying photographs still under wraps; Guantanamo’s atrocities; “secret” renditions of U.S. prisoners to be tortured by client police states; the CIA’s boasts that the U.S. has developed “touchless torture”; which relies on sensory overload or deprivation to destroy a prisoner’s psyche; the death penalty, widely used by U.S. courts, and the fiasco of Katrina have exposed U.S. hypocrisy to all the world.

Members of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is China’s top advisory body, held a panel on the U.S. report March 10, two days after it appeared, according to an English-language dispatch from the news agency Xinhua. For the past seven years, China has released a report on violations of human rights in the United States in response to the one the U.S. State Department releases.

“The United States, a self-proclaimed ‘human rights judge,’ has once again pointed its fingers at others while totally ignoring its own problems,” said Zhao Qizheng who formerly was minister in charge of the Information Office of the State Council, the Chinese cabinet.

According to Yang Zhengquan, another CPPCC member, the U.S. criticism on China has nothing to do with human rights but aims at “undermining China’s socialist system.”

“It’s nothing but dirty politics, which is totally ideology-oriented,” he said. “The United States is attempting to achieve its political goals under the pretext of human rights.”

Chinese reply strikes home

China’s report on U.S. violation of human rights is divided into seven parts: on life and security of person; on infringements upon human rights by law enforcement and judicial organs; on political rights and freedom; on economic, social and cultural rights; on racial discrimination; on rights of women and children; and on the United States’ violation of human rights in other countries.

The report summarizes these issues from a perspective of a different society and a different political system. For someone living in the United States, it is painful to recall all the depravities and inequities listed, including racism, homelessness, high homicide rates, violence against women and the ever-rising level of incarceration in prison:

“As the prisons in the U.S. were packed, the situation of prisoners worsened.

“During Hurricane Katrina, between Aug. 29 and Sept. 1, 2005, correctional officers from the New Orleans Sheriff’s Department abandoned 600 inmates in a prison, as many were immersed in chest- and neck-level water and left without food, water, electricity, fresh air, or functioning facilities for four days and nights.”

The report concludes, “The United States has always boasted it was the ‘model of democracy’ and hawked its mode of democracy to the rest of the world. In fact, American ‘democracy’ is always one for the wealthy and a ‘game for the rich’.”

The full Chinese report is available in English at news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-03/09/content_4279166.htm.

The U.S. media recently publicized the income disparity between rural and urban areas in China, which does exist but ignore that the gap between richest and poorest in the United States is far greater. The U.S. State Department’s report makes much of the “disturbances” in rural areas that “are suppressed.”

Chang Cheng, another member of the CPPCC, said that Washington has long ignored the constant progress of human rights in China.

This year the Chinese government announced several major preferential policies to promote rural development, which will bring about substantial benefits for the country’s 900 million farmers. “These policies will help better guarantee the farmers’ right to subsistence and development, which we believe is the primary right for every human being,” Chang said.

Perhaps the State Department didn’t mention China’s steps to achieve economic human rights for its citizens, because at the same time the Bush administration and a majority from both parties in Congress have enacted, along with sharp cuts in social services, tax cuts for the rich that will increase still further the disparity between rich and poor in the United States.