By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 14: The international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that China is in the midst of its darkest period for human rights since the Tiananmen Square massacre in its annual report. The report said that world governments found “safety in numbers” to push back on Chinese policies of repression with less fear of retaliation.
The 386-page report noted worsening persecution of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet under the leadership of Xi Jinping. It criticized the Beijing administration’s handling of COVID-19 outbreak which was immediately followed by arrests of whistle-blowers and journalists. “Beijing’s repression – insisting on political loyalty to the Chinese Communist party – deepened across the country,” it added.
In Tibet, Chinese authorities continued “to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement and assembly, and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and unlawful use of force by security forces”. The government’s investment in political loyalty has also since intensified in the special administrative region of Hong Kong. The documents revealed internet censorship, mass surveillance and efforts to “sinicize” religion all across the occupied regions.
“Since Xi Jinping came to power the repression has gotten worse and worse overall, in every aspect of Chinese society you can see how the party is becoming more intolerant of any kind of independent activity,” said HRW researcher Yaqiu Wang. The global rights group said it was critical of EU’s response of China in the recent finalizing of a massive trade deal last year. US passed numerous legislation targeting Chinese abuses as other countries like UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US tore up extradition treaties with China over Hong Kong protests.
HRW said that statements in support of Beijing often involved economic leverage and were typically signed by many of the world’s worst human rights abusers. It also pointed out US’ “peripheral role” resulted in the pushback due to the lack of involvement from the Trump administration. “The lesson of recent years for other governments is that they can make a big difference even without Washington. Even under a more rights-friendly US administration, this broader collective defence of rights should be maintained,” it further added.