China is in the midst of its darkest period for human rights since the Tiananmen Square massacre, Human Rights Watch wrote in its annual report.
But 2020 was also the year in which world governments discovered “cash security” to repel China’s policy of repression, with less fear of retaliation, the statement said.
The worsening persecution of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Tibet, the targeting of informers, the crackdown on Hong Kong and attempts to cover up the coronavirus outbreak have been part of President Xi Jinping̵
“This is the darkest period for human rights in China since the 1989 massacre, which put an end to the democratic movement in Tiananmen Square,” the report on global human rights abuses said.
“The Chinese government’s authoritarianism was exposed in 2020 when it battled the deadly coronavirus epidemic first reported in Wuhan province,” the report said, describing the initial cover-up of the outbreak by authorities and the punishment of doctors filing signals, including Li Wenliang and journalists such as Zhang Zhang, who reported on the blocking of Wuhan and the surveillance and harassment of the families of virus victims.
At the same time, “repression in Beijing – insisting on political loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party – has deepened across the country,” it said.
“In Xinjiang, Turkic Muslims continue to be arbitrarily detained on the basis of their identities, while others are subjected to forced labor, mass surveillance and political indoctrination. In Inner Mongolia, protests erupted in September when education authorities decided to replace Mongolian with Chinese mandarin in a number of classes in schools in the region. “
And in Tibet, authorities continued to “severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly, and failed to address popular concerns about mining and land grabbing by local officials, which often involve intimidation and illegal use of force by security forces.”
The search for political loyalty has also intensified in Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region. After more than six months of protests in 2019, Beijing has implemented the city’s internationally criticized national security law, outlawing even benign acts of opposition such as breakaway crimes, sedition, foreign collusion and terrorism. About 90 people have been arrested under the law since June.
Internet censorship, mass surveillance and efforts to “sinize” religion have also deepened in China, the report said. Prominent critics, human rights defenders and journalists have been imprisoned, disappeared or forced into exile, and many have been accused of “inciting subversive activity” or “inciting quarrels and provoking trouble” – a frequent charge. against dissidents and activists.
“Since Xi Jinping came to power, repression has worsened and worsened in general, and in every aspect of Chinese society you can see the party becoming increasingly intolerant of any kind of independent activity,” said HRW researcher Yaki Wang.
The 386-page report focuses largely on China because of the international response to the deteriorating repression there. HRW said the rest of the world had become more confident in criticizing Beijing because it had previously feared revenge.
Revenge did happen: China and the United States went into a trade war, traded sanctions and new visa regulations, diplomats and journalists, and closed embassies. Australia has been subjected to harmful trade tariffs and bans after calling for a “serious” investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.
HRW was critical of the EU’s response to China, and in particular the finalization of a trade agreement with Beijing late last year.
“If the EU was serious about ending forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province, they could insist on it before agreeing to the investment agreement,” said HRW chief Kenneth Roth.
But in 2020, many world governments have discovered “security in numbers, reflecting Beijing’s inability to take revenge on the world,” HRW said. Fewer members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – who have been inclined to support China in the past – have supported Xinjiang’s policies and a number of condemnatory statements have been made at the UN.
The United States has passed a number of laws targeting China’s abuses, while the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States have severed extradition treaties with the country over repression against Hong Kong.
“This growing international readiness to condemn the Chinese government has forced it to react,” the report said, and Beijing confirmed for the first time the number of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims detained in Xinjiang, revealing that 1.3 million people had gone through it. , he called “vocational training centers”.
Each UN statement was countered by statements in support of Beijing, which HRW said were “typically signed by many of the world’s worst human rights violators” and appeared to involve economic leverage.
The HRW report says the repulsion is particularly notable for the “peripheral” role of the United States, as the Trump administration often did not participate or did not trust it when it did.
“The lesson of recent years for other governments is that they can make a big difference even without Washington. “Even with a more righteous US administration, this broader collective protection of rights must be maintained.”