Increasing international (and Muslim) support for China’s human rights achievements in Xinjiang (updated)

Update: the letter mentioned below now includes 50 signatories, from countries whose population totals 2 billion. Of these, 28 are Muslim-majority countries.

‘No investigation, no right to speak [meiyou diaocha jiu meiyou fanyanquan]’.

This Chinese saying is particularly relevant for some in a small number of former colonising countries who like to make unfounded statements about China. That they have been used to seeing the world in their image is obvious; that they misunderstand much of the rest of the world is also obvious. But times are changing fast, for the voices from precisely such parts are increasingly strong and being heard.

Xinjiang and its highly successful counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation programs are a case in point. In contrast to the former colonisers, many foreign delegations and journalists from other countries have visited Xinjiang and undertaken proper investigation. Notably, this includes investigators from Muslim-majority and developing countries, which support China’s approach.

One recent result of this process of investigation is a joint letter from the ambassadors of 37 countries, which was sent to the UN’s human rights council. The letter indicates strong support for China’s successes in Xinjiang and its promotion of a Chinese Marxist approach to human rights. \

As Xinhua news reports:

July 12 (Xinhua) — Ambassadors of 37 countries on Friday sent a joint letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to show their support for China on its “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights”.

“We commend China’s remarkable achievements in the field of human rights by adhering to the people-centered development philosophy and protecting and promoting human rights through development,” the joint letter said.

“We also appreciate China’s contributions to the international human rights cause,” it said.

The ambassadors expressed their “firm opposition” to relevant countries’ practice of politicizing human rights issues, by naming and shaming, and publicly exerting pressures on other countries.

“We urge the OHCHR, Treaty Bodies and relevant Special Procedures mandate holders to conduct their work in an objective and impartial manner according to their mandate and with true and genuinely credible information, and value the communication with member states,” the joint letter said.

The letter was signed by the ambassadors to UN at Geneva from Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cuba, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Nigeria, Angola, Togo, Tajikistan, Philippines, Belarus and a number of other countries from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN COUNTER-TERRORISM

As for issues related to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the UN envoys said that terrorism, separatism and religious extremism have caused enormous damage to people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, which has seriously infringed upon human rights, including right to life, health and development.

“Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers,” they noted.

They mentioned that safety and security has returned to Xinjiang and the fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded.

“The past three consecutive years has seen not a single terrorist attack in Xinjiang and people there enjoy a stronger sense of happiness, fulfillment and security,” the envoys stressed.

The ambassadors said they noted “with appreciation” that human rights are respected and protected in China in the process of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization.

“We appreciate China’s commitment to openness and transparency. China has invited a number of diplomats, international organizations officials and journalist to Xinjiang to witness the progress of the human rights cause and the outcomes of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization there,” they said, adding that what they saw and heard in Xinjiang completely contradicted what was reported in some western media.

“We call on relevant countries to refrain from employing unfounded charges against China based on unconfirmed information before they visit Xinjiang,” they concluded.

FULL SUPPORT FROM LOCAL PEOPLE

At the end of the letter, the ambassadors, on behalf of the respective country of them, request that this letter be recorded as an official document of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council and be published on the official UN Website.

Friday marked the last day of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council, which started on June 24.

Li Song, the Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of China to UN at Geneva, spoke on Friday at a UN Human Rights Council session, expressing appreciation and gratitude to the 37 ambassadors for their supports.

Li Song told the Council that China welcomes those who truly adhere to the principles of objectivity and fairness to come to visit Xinjiang, to take a look and feel its beauty, prosperity, hospitality, development and progress.

Once plagued by terrorist attacks, Li said, Xinjiang was determined to take lawful actions to fight crimes of violence and terrorism, and at the same time to take prevention and de-radicalization means to address the root causes, including the setting up of vocational education and training centers.

“Now these measures have achieved good results and gained full support from the local people,” the senior Chinese diplomat said.

“The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, along with the entire Chinese people, will stride forward to build a brighter future of their own,” Li added.

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Neo-colonialism and Hong Kong: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming responds to a couple of ignorant UK politicians

Following my earlier post about ‘Colonial Policy By Other Means‘ (in relation to Hong Kong and Taiwan), I have been enjoying reading the replies by the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, in response to one or two ignorant politicians in the UK, who have been cheering on the violence in Hong Kong.

In reply to someone called Jeremy Hunt (seems to be important over there):

It seems that he [Jeremy Hunt] is still immersed in the faded glory of colonialism. He is obsessed with condescendingly criticizing other countries. He keeps lying without remorse. Here I will say a few more words.

First, after Hong Kong’s return to China, British rights and obligations as outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration were completed. On July 1, 1997, China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong. The Chinese Government started exercising jurisdiction over Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR.

The UK has no sovereignty or rights to rule and supervise Hong Kong after the handover. There is no room for Britain to claim any so-called responsibility over Hong Kong whatsover. Claiming itself the guardian of Hong Kong is nothing more than self-entertaining.

Second, Mr Hunt says that the UK negotiated freedoms for Hong Kong. How brazen is that! Was there any democracy when the British governors were in Hong Kong? People in Hong Kong didn’t even have the right to take to the streets then. It is only after the return that Hong Kong residents started enjoying unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms. The Chinese Government strictly follows the Constitution and the Basic Law. It earnestly implements the  one country, two systems” policy. It ensures that the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.

Third, the violent storming of the Legislative Council on July 1 is a grave illegal activity. It tramples on the rule of law and undermines social order. In total disregard of facts, Mr. Hunt called the SAR government’s response “repression”. That is entirely misleading. I want to ask Mr. Hunt, if it were the British Parliament that had been stormed and vandalized, what would the British government do? Will it sit by idly and let the protesters have their way? If this is the democracy he believes in, should the police guarding the Parliament withdraw to allow in protesters across the street? Will he call the British police’s handling of the August 2011 riot in London “repression”?

I shall stress that Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region. Its affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. They brook no interference from any country, organization or individual in any form. We hope that the UK side, especially Mr. Hunt, will cease to overreach and interfere. Such attempts are doomed to fail.

And in reply to last colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, who claims that as a former colony, the UK has a ‘right’ to interfere:

As the last governor of Hong Kong, his body is in the 21st century, but his head remains in the old colonial days. This bill won’t make it easier for Hong Kong to extradite people to the mainland. There are many safeguards. You know, first of all, there are 37 clauses as safeguards in this Bill. That means, no people would be extradited to mainland because of their religious or political beliefs. And the crime has to be punishable in both places. That means, to make an extreme case, if murder was not regarded as a crime in Hong Kong, then people who committed murder would not be extradited to the mainland.

As for the bill of extradition itself, what was its origin?

The whole thing was started by Hong Kong SAR government. Just as the Chief Executive said, she received no instruction from Beijing. She received no order from Beijing. It is completely the initiative launched by Hong Kong SAR government, to make Hong Kong system more perfect, to improve the legal system.

You mentioned “One China, Two Systems” for 50 years. We are fully committed to this promise. There is no question about that. So you can see that from day one till now, the central government has not interfered at all. Every step of the way, we let the Hong Kong SAR government handle this. Instead, it is the British government that was trying to interfere, voicing support for the demonstrators … they tried to obstruct the legal process. To answer your question in a simple way, have full confidence in Hong Kong SAR government. And it shows that they are capable of handling the situation.

 

Why Is Chinese Governance Better?

Recently, Martin Jacques observed that Chinese governance under the CPC is a better, more efficient and higher form of governance than we have seen thus far. To begin with, Jacques is correct. This is particularly obvious if we compare it with bourgeois (liberal) democracy, which is now obsolete and quite clumsy. The latter arose in a specific context, in eighteenth and nineteenth century Western Europe, and may have been appropriate in that part of the world in the wake of the bourgeois revolutions. It has also been transplanted to some former colonies in North America, Australia and New Zealand. But the system is rather crude, with nearly every feature of public life politicised, with antagonistic political engagement in which one policy is promulgated by a particular political party only to be undone by the next. Chaotic, clumsy and outdated.

As is usually the case with Martin Jacques, he tries to explain this reality by going back into China’s more distant past. Strangely, he skips past the central role of Marxism in shaping the current practice of governance in China. So let us see what such a focus indicates (this article is also useful).

Here I draw on a book I am writing on Engels, for it is precisely Engels (more than Marx) who provides the philosophical basis for socialist governance. The book has taken longer than expected, since I need to work carefully through material few consider. In the final chapter, I examine Engels’s ideas concerning what a socialist form of governance might be.

There are two main points.

First, the organs of governance ‘stand in the midst of society’. Engels draws this insight from his careful study in the 1870s and 1880s of what he calls ‘pre-state’ societies, but which may also be called ‘base communism’ and ‘base democracy’. Why ‘pre-state’? For Engels, the state is a ‘separated public power’, which arises from class conflict and stands over against society. By contrast, base communism does not have this separation. All the various organs of governance – and there are many – stand in the midst of society. They are woven within social structures, being part and parcel of society as a whole. In my book, I have developed the category of ‘enmeshment’ to understand how this might work: society, state and economy are not separated from one another, but rather enmeshed within one another.

One might respond: but Engels is dealing with ancient societies, in a historical and anthropological way, so these insights are not relevant for how socialism today functions. The answer: in a crucial but under-studied piece called ‘The Mark’, Engels points out that this type of base communism would be dialectically transformed under socialism, so as to become the type of society and governance that would be appropriate.

This point I have realised for some time, but the second is relatively new: ‘public functions will lose their political character and be transformed into the simple administrative functions of watching over the true interests of society’. This text is quoted from Engels’s 1873 piece, ‘On Authority’, in which he castigates the impractical proposals of the Anarchists, especially under Bakunin’s leadership. But the core idea of political character disappearing and being replaced by an efficient administration focused on the public good is crucial (it appears elsewhere in Engels’s work and is voiced by Marx).

Let us begin with political character. Under bourgeois democracies, a whole spate of areas are political footballs: education, health, environment, public transport, immigration and refugees, economic policy, and so on. They are the subject of election campaigns, of bewildering changes in policy with changes in the party in power, of implementation and winding back. But if they lose their political character, they cease to be tossed back and forth depending on the whims of political parties.

In place of this political character is efficient administration focused on the public good. Let me give three examples drawn from China. In education, the long-term plan is to improve the already impressive educational system in all respects. This entails careful research, significant funding, trials of new methods in some areas before extending them to the rest of the country, and so on. For this reason, people with whom I speak in China find it unbelievable that the Australian government – as one example – has been reducing funding for education for quite some time now.

Another example concerns public transport, which is reasonably well-known internationally. Simply put, the Chinese rail system is now the best in the world. Three levels of high-speed train operate across the country, while the slower ‘green skin’ trains ply local routes. In cities across China, world-leading metro systems are being implemented at a breath-taking pace. One that I know well is in Beijing, where they are working towards increasing the total kilometres covered from about 500 km to 1,000 km. Currently, it caters for 6 billion passenger trips per year, but this will increase. Again, this is seen as a public good, requiring long-term planning and efficient implementation.

Finally, environmental policy and action, which is called in China ‘ecological civilisation [shengtai wenming]’. The term refers to the modes of life and their relation to the environment: only when this is sorted out can we speak of wenming, which is not so much ‘citification’ (as the Latin origins of ‘civilisation’ suggest) but the just, peaceful, healthy and stable nature of culture. In China, the realities of climate change are not politicised; instead, they needs to be addressed directly. I have seen this with my own eyes, in what may be called the greening of China. The country leads the world in reafforestation, the water, plants and air of major cities have been improving year on year, and green technologies are leaping ahead. Again, this is efficient administration for the public good.

So yes, Chinese governance is clearly the highest form we have seen thus far, precisely because of the CPC and the socialist road. We should of course be careful: Engels’s formulations are not the final word on the matter. He had never experienced the actual process of constructing socialism, let alone a successful communist revolution. But it is rather striking how he and Marx provide the philosophical basis of socialist governance in terms of the disappearance of its political character and the development of efficient and careful administration for the public good. That the Chinese have developed these much further, in light of their conditions and the actual experience of constructing socialist governance, should be clear.