The Oklahoman

UN-backed panel blasts China on human rights

- Jamey Keaten

GENEVA – U.N.-backed experts Monday urged China to improve its courts’ independen­ce, share data on COVID-19, suspend constructi­on of coal-fired power plants and “immediatel­y” end human rights violations in its western Xinjiang region.

The call came among an array of recommenda­tions to encourage Beijing to better respect basic rights.

China quickly lashed out at some of the findings released by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is made up of 18 independen­t experts and works with the U.N.’s human rights office. Beijing in particular blasted the panel’s alleged acceptance of “false informatio­n and rumors” about rights in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.

The committee’s findings capped two days of hearings last month on China, one of six countries that had their turns this year at a regular review by the U.N.-backed body. China’s review also included a look at the special administra­tive regions of Macao and Hong Kong.

The review also aired concerns about lack of transparen­cy, corruption and “unsustaina­ble debt levels” incurred by some countries that have taken part in the Belt and Road Initiative, a China-funded developmen­t project. It called on China to increase taxes on carbon emissions to help meet the Paris climate accord’s goals, and do more to transfer wealth from coastal regions to poorer western inland regions.

Furthermor­e, China was urged to do more to protect the cultural diversity of its religious minorities, while Hong Kong was called on to set up an “independen­t national human rights institutio­n” to monitor protection­s of human rights. The review cited a few “positive aspects” on labor rights, adoption of a human-rights action plan, and legal changes to combat domestic violence and boost parental leave time.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has faced accusation­s that abuses have multiplied as Beijing tried to crush a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, carried out mass detentions of Muslim minorities and silenced labor, women’s rights and other activists.

The Chinese government deployed dozens of officials for the hearings, which offered a relatively rare opportunit­y for internatio­nal rights advocates to face off with and question Chinese authoritie­s.

In its rebuttal, the Chinese government insisted that discrimina­tion was prohibited under the constituti­on and laws, which put “all ethnic groups on the same footing,” and defended the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for having “strictly implemente­d” the law.

It provided a point-by-point rejection of the committee’s findings on the Belt and Road initiative, judicial independen­ce, and corruption, among other things.

“Observatio­ns cited and accepted some false informatio­n and rumors on Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong-related issues, did not pay due attention to authoritat­ive informatio­n such as facts and figures provided by China,” the government wrote. “The recommenda­tions arising therefrom are untruthful, full of bias and double standards. China rejected those recommenda­tions.”

 ?? ALASTAIR GRANT/AP FILE ?? A small group in London protests China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Feb. 13.
ALASTAIR GRANT/AP FILE A small group in London protests China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Feb. 13.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States