China has been appointed as a member of a human rights council panel that plays an important role in picking human rights investigators who will be tasked with monitoring cases of enforced disappearances, violations of freedom of speech, arbitrary detentions, and so on. Human rights groups have expressed their displeasure at the UN decision.
A bad move
“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief… It’s absurd and immoral for the UN to allow China’s oppressive government a key role in selecting officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said, as reported by UN Watch.
With its newfound power, China will be involved in the selection of at least 17 UN human rights mandate-holders in 2021. These investigators will be tasked with preparing reports about the human rights situation of specific countries. Plus, China will also have the right to recommend and vet candidates for important human rights posts. Though the Chinese delegate in the panel, Jiang Duan, is serving the 5-member council in his personal capacity, it is inevitable that he would be considering matters based on the parameters and interests dictated by the Communist Party.
The UN Security Council has been criticized in recent years for its soft stance against China when it comes to human rights. Back in 2018, the U.S. withdrew from the body, with ambassador Nikki Haley calling it a “cesspool” of political bias. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also criticized the council for ignoring serious offenders and granting them a seat.
TG Arya, spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration in exile, expressed disappointment at China’s role in the human rights panel. “Tibetans, Chinese, Uyghurs, Mongolians, and the people of Hong Kong, who are all victims of the Chinese Communist Party’s oppressive regime, all now fear that they will not get fair hearing… It is like putting an eagle in a dovecote… If China’s diplomatic arm-twisting continues undeterred in this way, it will encourage the rise of totalitarianism,” he said to Radio Free Asia.
CCP Coronavirus and human rights
China has continued its abuse of human rights even during the CCP coronavirus outbreak, silencing whistleblowers and threatening critics. A doctor who had identified the viral threat in December was detained by officials and forced to keep his mouth shut. He later contracted the virus and died. Ren Zhiqiang, a critic of the Communist Party, called Xi Jinping a clown for his mismanagement of the epidemic. Anti-corruption authorities arrested him on the pretext of “serious violations of discipline and law.”
“At home, Chinese authorities are silencing critics ranging from doctors like Li Wenliang to citizen journalists like Chen Qiushi to politically connected tycoons like Ren Zhiqiang… That Ren is being held and investigated by the CCDI guarantees one outcome: a total denial of fair trial rights,” Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director, said to The Guardian. Deaths of some citizens are being treated as due to natural or other causes without properly testing for CCP coronavirus infections.