China and Australia two flags together realations textile cloth fabric texture
China and Australia two flags together realations textile cloth fabric texture

China’s ‘jaw-dropping’ Aussie accusation

ANALYSIS

It was certainly a ballsy move by Beijing, causing as many jaws to drop as eyes to roll.

Despite being accused of locking up millions of ethnic Uighurs in re-education camps, trampling on the fragile democracy built in Hong Kong and threatening to invade defiant Taiwan, last week China saw fit to officially dob in Australia for its human rights record.

The startling intervention by Beijing to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva was backed by a rogues' gallery of nations - including Russia, Belarus and Venezuela - which aren't exactly know for fostering freedom among their citizens.

It's seemingly Beijing's latest ploy to delegitimise any criticism levelled at it, particularly from Australia.

However, campaign groups have regularly slammed China for having one of the world's worst human rights records.

 

In a statement to the UNHCR on Friday, China singled out Australia's use of overseas detention for refugees and the conduct of its soldiers in Afghanistan who have been accused of war crimes. Beijing said there was "deep concern" about Australia's human rights record.

"We urge Australia to immediately close down all offshore detention centres and take concrete steps to protect the rights of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, especially children," the statement said.

It added that medical facilities were inadequate at the centres in Nauru and that those on the islands have been "detained over a long period of time", both points that have concerned campaigners for years.

Yet, China made no mention that it is also accused of routinely detaining people for long periods of time.

As well as the Uighur camps in the country's restive Xinjiang province, which China insists are mere vocational training centres, Beijing also locks up those accused of crimes without giving them access to lawyers or families, or even telling them what they are accused of.

China-based Australian TV news host Cheng Lei was detained for six months before, finally, being told last month she was being charged with illegally supplying state secrets overseas, a claim disputed by her supporters.

The statement to the UNHCR also said Australia should carry out a "fair" investigation into "serious war crimes" committed by SAS solders in Afghanistan.

RELATED: Australia move that China will hate

 

 

Yet it was an investigation, the Brereton Report set up by the Australian Defence Force, which found "credible information" Australian soldiers murdered 39 civilians in Afghanistan.

Beijing said the UN high commissioner for human rights should "monitor" the Australian government for human rights abuses.

An opinion piece by Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times, published on Sunday, obediently piled in.

It showed a cartoon of an Australian soldier displaying a placard saying "human rights" while standing on a bloodied body.

"Australia has always regarded itself as a victim of international disputes, but the world will eventually recognise the country's true face as a perpetrator on human rights issues," wrote Li Qingqing.

A cartoon accompanying a Global Times article criticising Australia's human rights abuses.
A cartoon accompanying a Global Times article criticising Australia's human rights abuses.

ONE LINE THAT REVEALS CHINA'S PLOY

Undoubtedly, Australia's policy of shipping refugees to Nauru and the shocking revelations of killings in Afghanistan have rocked the country's reputation abroad.

Nonetheless, a country widely regarded as being one of the world's pre-eminent human rights abusers calling out others for failings in the same area is deliberately provocative.

The finger-pointing from Beijing has only increased after several countries said its treatment of Uighurs amounted to a form of genocide. The term is controversial - China is not slaughtering Uighurs en masse. But the US and Canada have said China's attempts at re-education and allegations it is forcibly sterilising Uighur women meets the definition of genocide as it is effectively destroying the group. Foreign minister Wang Yi has said claims of genocide were "preposterous".

 

 

"What Australia has done is pure trampling on human rights," frothed the Global Times.

"Australia has no moral basis to place itself on the high ground of human rights."

And that one line reveals Beijing's true plan. It will accuse other nations of exactly the same crimes China is accused of, even if those comparisons appear to be wide of the mark.

This is widely seen as an attempt by Beijing to delegitimise any such criticism that comes its way.

If a country dares challenge China on its human rights record, it will find a chink in that nation's scoresheet and exploit it for all it's worth.

It has taken the US to task for its treatment of Black Americans, especially in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and Australia for the treatment of Indigenous communities.

It then indignantly bristles at other countries commenting on its actions in Hong Kong or Xinjiang, saying they are "internal affairs".

Global Times staffer Hu Xijin took this further recently, accusing Australia of "genocide" rather than China.

RELATED: Who are the Uighurs and why is China being accused of genocide?

 

CHINA ONE OF THE WORST HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said the barbs from China will do little. Canberra stood by its claims that China has committed "severe breaches of human rights," although Australia is yet to use the term genocide.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called out China for its abuses as well as its use of global bodies, such as the UN, to undermine the international response to allegations levelled against it.

"No other government is simultaneously detaining a million members of an ethnic minority for forced indoctrination and attacking anyone who dares to challenge its repression," wrote HRW executive director Kenneth Roth.

"And while other governments commit serious human rights violations, no other government flexes its political muscles with such vigour and determination to undermine the international human rights standards and institutions that could hold it to account."

 

 

It pointed to a submission to the UN Human Rights Council, which said states should be discouraged from "preaching so-called universal values".

China might call for Australia to be monitored by UN agencies, but HRW said Beijing was less fond of requests for its own human rights record to be examined.

"If not challenged, Beijing's actions portend a dystopian future in which no one is beyond the reach of Chinese censors and an international human rights system so weakened that it no longer serves as a check on government repression."

In 2019, libertarian think tank the Cato Institute, based in the US, published a "Human Freedom Index" based on measures including the rule of law, security and safety and free expression.

In that report, Australia was ranked sixth, behind countries including New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada. China came in at 126 out of 162 nations.

Despite the jaw-dropping hypocrisy, China seems to think its new tactic works.

Expect to see more angry memos to Geneva from Beijing, berating nations for human rights abuses - even as it is criticised for doing far worse.

 

 

Originally published as China's 'jaw-dropping' Aussie accusation


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