The United States loves to position itself on the global stage as a bastion of freedom, justice and democracy with the authority to call out other nations for not sufficiently exhibiting those ideals.
But on Wednesday, the Chinese government issued a 28-page report to the United Nations challenging America’s critique of the rising power in the East for its reported human rights violations.
As ABC News reports, the Chinese State Council Information Office released a paper this week outlining America’s own human rights violations over the last year, prefacing the report with a quote from George Floyd reading, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd memorably said the words while being brutally restrained by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last summer, who knelt on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for more than eight minutes until he lost consciousness and then later died.
“The United States, which has always considered itself an exception and superior, saw its own epidemic situation go out of control, accompanied by political disorder, inter-ethnic conflicts, and social division,” the report said.
The report called out the disproportionate number of African Americans killed by law enforcement in the U.S., quoted statistics about what it called the “racial bullying” of Asian-Americans here, and referenced the outsized impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on communities of color in America.
“The U.S. government, instead of introspecting on its own terrible human rights record, kept making irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in other countries,” Chinese outlet CGTN quotes from the report.
According to Reuters, at a U.N. General Assembly meeting on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last Friday, American Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield sparred with a Chinese representative to the U.N. about their respective countries’ problems with racism.
Thomas-Greenfield raised the issue of China’s reported persecution and violent repression of ethnic minorities in the state, such as Uighur Muslims.
“The government has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
“If the U.S. truly cared about human rights, they should address the deep-seated problems of racial discrimination, social injustice and police brutality, on their own soil,” answered China’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Dai Bing.
In response, Thomas-Greenfield (who is a Black woman) acknowledged America’s own issue of violent bigotry, saying “We have flaws. Deep, serious flaws. But we talk about them. We work to address them. And we press on, in hopes that we can leave the country better than we found it.”
While China’s one-party ruled government is undoubtedly carrying out some disturbing, shady and repressive shit against marginalized groups in the country, so is the United States—complete with our own detention camps for ethnic minorities.The government in the Land of the Free also has its hand all over its own systemic violences, including through funding police departments that continue to kill Black Americans with impunity.
I can’t come down on any side of the debate between Chinese and American representatives about the problem of racism, except to say that both nations need to fix the inhumane conditions in their own backyards. Until the U.S., specifically, does so, it will always be vulnerable to the kind of Chinese “propaganda” that is laced with uncomfortable truths.