Rampant hypocrisy from China and US on human rights

China may be repressively detaining its own citizens, but no country approaches America when it comes to wanton killing and destruction of other people on a global scale

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 March, 2016, 12:55am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 March, 2016, 12:55am

In the latest war of words over human rights between China and the United States, it’s hard not to be amazed by the levels of hypocrisy on both sides.

Partisans and apologists notwithstanding, the fact is that the two powerful countries are right about each other.

Along with 11 other countries and the United Nations’ rights chief, the US has rounded on China at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

They especially singled out the mainland detention of five Hong Kong booksellers who specialised in publishing books banned on the mainland, and the arrest and prosecution of dozens of human rights lawyers.

US ambassador Keith Harper said the incident cast doubt on Beijing’s commitment to the “high degree of autonomy” promised to Hong Kong.

He is absolutely right about that.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to see how, when it comes to interfering in other people’s territories and countries, the US is in any position to criticise anyone.

In an angry response, ambassador Fu Cong said: “The United States conducts large-scale extraterritorial eavesdropping, uses drones to attack other countries’ innocent civilians. Its troops on foreign soil commit rape and murder of local people.”

I am surprised he didn’t mention large-scale extraterritorial assassinations and murders, not just of foreigners but American citizens.

US President Barack Obama signed off on the 2011 drone killing, in Yemen, of American-born radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, who was never tied to any specific terrorist attacks or plots despite making inflammatory speeches against the US. Several weeks later, another drone strike killed his American-born teenage son and several young relatives. His son was not involved in any jihadist activities; his sole crime was to have travelled to Yemen to look for his father.

“US drone strike policy,” writes Amnesty International, referring to a policy that may have killed thousands of innocent bystanders since Obama took office, “appears to allow extrajudicial executions in violation of the right to life, virtually anywhere in the world.”

It’s difficult to see why the excesses of Obama’s war on terror don’t amount to war crime itself or state-sponsored terrorism.

China may be repressively detaining its own citizens, but no country approaches the US when it comes to wanton killing and destruction of other people on a global scale.