Facts Speak Louder Than Words
On 12 October, a diplomat of U.S. Embassy in Malta published an article in Times of Malta titled “Promoting open societies”. The article, while talking at length about American greatness, made much criticism about China. Regrettably, none of the accusations therein is based on facts.
First, on Xinjiang. Those who truly care about the situation in Xinjiang would recall how Xinjiang suffered, for quite some time, from the ethnic separatists, religious extremists and terrorist forces. The region was plagued by terrorist attacks in the thousands, and bore heavy casualties and property losses. Terrorism, as a common enemy of humanity, must be combated jointly by the global community. And what the people in China, including those in Xinjiang, want is to end violence and preserve social stability.
To tackle terrorism at its root, the Chinese government has taken multi-pronged measures, including improving people’s living standards, enhancing legal education, and opening vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law. These measures have proven effective. The past three years saw no terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, and the people there can live and work in safety and stability.
The very purpose of the vocational training centers is to help those with minor legal offenses to protect them from falling victim to terrorism and extremism. Trainees can learn vocational skills there and gain better chances to land jobs. Hence, labeling these training centers as “concentration camps” is a gross misrepresentation of facts. Doing so would only embolden the terrorists, and is also most disrespectful to history. Foreigners from various sectors have paid visits to Xinjiang in the past weeks and months, and they have spoken positively about the effects of the Chinese government’s policies on the ground. Last July, 37 countries co-signed a letter to the UN Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner on Human Rights in which China’s measures in Xinjiang were recognized and appreciated.
I wish to emphasize that China is a multi-ethnic country, and the 56 ethnic groups of this country are all equal, and live side by side as one big family. They are united in their efforts toward the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. Any attempt to provoke tensions and create division among them is doomed to fail.
Second, about Hong Kong. In 1997, China resumed its exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. This is a significant step in the Chinese quest for national reunification, a moment all Chinese, including those in Hong Kong, are proud of. Since then, Hong Kong has achieved remarkable progress under “one country, two systems”. Its GDP more than doubled that of 1996 last year, and it has remained an international financial, shipping and trade center.
Hong Kong is a free society where people enjoy the right to express their opinions. Hong Kong is also a society under the rule of law where one must abide by its laws and regulations. Yet, in the past few weeks and months, “freedom and democracy” have been used as a cover, and the proposed amendments to the ordinances regarding fugitive offenders and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, an excuse, for far too much violence and unlawful activities. The rioters stormed the Legislative Council and other institutions, forcibly occupied the airport and subways, set fire to buildings, and brutally attacked the police and innocent people. None of these acts would be allowable in any country, and they should all be prosecuted by law.
It is most inconceivable that some US politicians, in face of such a blatant challenge to the rule of law, have decided to pick the rioters’ side, rooting for them and cheering for them. This has only fueled the violence and undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. Such behaviors are deplorable.
It should be pointed out that neither the rioters nor the US politicians supporting them would succeed in their ill motives. The Hong Kong SAR government has the ability, and the Hong Kong people have the wisdom to handle the complexities and situations in Hong Kong. No one and no force should underestimate China’s firm resolve to see the “one country, two systems” implemented and prosperity and stability preserved in Hong Kong.
Third, about human rights. The protection and promotion of human rights has been high on the Chinese government’s agenda. Safeguarding human rights has been written into the Chinese Constitution. Delivering a happy life to the people and realizing the rejuvenation of the nation - these are the very goals that the Communist Party of China (CPC) who has led the Chinese people in a united effort for national development since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, has been relentlessly pursuing.
In the past seven decades, the Chinese people’s life expectancy has risen from 35 to 77 years, their illiteracy rate dropped from 80 to 6.7 percent, and their per capita disposable income surged almost 60 times. Over 700 million Chinese were lifted out of poverty. All these represent China’s biggest contribution to the global cause of human rights. The Chinese people fully support the CPC leadership, and have strong confidence in the country’s path of development.
While pursuing its own development, China has made great efforts for global peace and well-being. China is active in UN peacekeeping missions. It is the largest troop contributing country among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. And China is actively engaged in efforts for peaceful settlement of many hotspot issues, from the Korean Peninsula to Iran, from the Middle East to Syria and Afghanistan.
Being the world’s second largest economy, China shares its development opportunities with other countries in the world. Since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, more than 160 countries, including Malta, and international organizations have participated in Belt and Road cooperation. As an advocate of and contributor to multilateralism and free trade, China firmly upholds the UN-centered international system underpinned by the international law, and upholds the rules-based multilateral trading regime with the WTO at its center.
China itself is still a developing country, yet it has provided, for several decades running, a large amount of aid to other developing countries for shared development. Past progress has shown that China’s policies conform to the trend of the times. China’s policies are being appreciated by more and more countries, and China is making more and more friends.
The United States often criticizes other countries in the name of “universal values”. But how has the US itself performed on that score? The US champions human rights as its core values, yet it has not acceded to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, all being the UN’s central instruments governing human rights. The United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018, not to mention the constant human rights violations within the United States.
The United States claims itself a country under the rule of law, yet it treats the international agreements it has entered into in a self-serving, selective way. It has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, a deal reached only after so much painstaking effort. It has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on climate change, in spite of the high need for a global response to this global challenge. It preaches fair trade, yet it bends the WTO rules and imposes additional tariffs on other countries however it likes, practices that have met extensive opposition. The US declares it wants open societies, yet it builds high walls along its border with Mexico where the situation on the ground as covered by the media is deeply disconcerting.
Facts speak louder than words. Who is truly serious and sincere about upholding peace, about promoting development and about protecting human rights? The international community has its fair conclusion.