China has become a threat to humanity and deserves the imposition of severe sanctions, writes Lt Gen Prakash Katoch (retd) for South Asia Monitor
US President Donald Trump told the United Nations on September 22 that China must be held accountable for unleashing the coronavirus “plague” on the world and failing to contain the virus that has killed nearly one million people across the world, including 200,000 Americans.
China’s reaction was that the issue is being unduly politicized. Trump also described the World Health Organization (WHO) “being virtually controlled by China.” Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, he has been pointing to the apparent complicity of Tedros Adhanom, Director- General WHO, in shielding Beijing from the blame.
China may well get away with the blame, even if it is benefiting financially, and has gone aggressive while the world battles coronavirus. Disregarding world opinion, China has established a joint facility in Pakistan on lines of the P-4 lab in Wuhan for advanced research in biological warfare. Beijing has also been undertaking extensive research in genealogy for several decades.
Given the thinking of China’s Communist Party (CPC) and Xi Jinping, the Chinese vaccine for coronavirus could contain a Trojan Horse for the next pandemic or for poisoning/eliminating humans other than Han Chinese.
China's abuse of Uighur Muslims
China has incarcerated hundreds of thousands Uighur Muslims in so-called “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, subjecting them to physical and psychological torture. Uighur women are being forcibly sterilized or married to non-Uighurs. Hundreds of mosques have been demolished and in some cases and, it is said, toilets have been constructed at the same spot. China says these re-education camps are required for vocational training.
China has been claiming that Beijing is winding down re-education camps for Uighurs, which has been proved a lie by Australian researchers. Research indicates 40 percent more such camps than the previous estimate – a total number 380 of which 61 have been added since July 2020. Many extrajudicial detainees are being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities.
Tibet and Hong Kong
Having eliminated thousands of Tibetans since China’s annexation of Tibet in 1950-51 through killings or enforced disappearances, and systematically destroying Tibetan monasteries, culture and artifacts, China has officially enforced a program for Sinicization of Tibet. A recent study by Jamestown Foundation has found that more than 500,000 Tibetans are being incarcerated into military-style training centers that act as labor camps similar to those for Uighurs in Xinjiang. Chinese officials cite Xi’s goal of eradicating poverty by the end of 2020 but the training the program indicates these individuals will end up in low-paid jobs.
Since 2009, Chinese genocide, persecution, and suppression have forced 154 Tibetans from different walks of life in Tibet to self-immolate as a mark of peaceful protest against Chinese oppression. The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has asked UNHRC to take appropriate decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China occupied regions including Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang.
Disregarding its commitment to Britain at the time of taking over Hong Kong and its own slogan of ‘One Nation, Two Systems’, China has clamped down heavily on basic legal rights including freedom of speech of Hong Kong citizens. Dissenters and democracy supporters are being imprisoned and tortured. It is only a matter of time before they too land up in ‘re-education camps’ in Hong Kong or are transported to mainland China.
Many countries slammed China for human rights excesses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong at the UN Human Rights Council meeting on September 25. The European Union, Britain, Australia and Canada led the charge among those voicing mounting concerns. Speaking on behalf of 300 plus activist groups, John Fisher of Human Rights Watch said, "No state should be above the law, China's turn has come." Britain called on China to uphold rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, and maintain the independence of the former British colony's judiciary.
China's denials and UN helplessness
The Catch 22 is that China blatantly denies each and every accusation. The level of deceit and lying that China has attained was epitomized by Xi addressing the UN General Assembly via video on September 22, wherein he stated, “China is committed to peaceful, open, cooperative and common development. We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a Hot War with any country. We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation.” Xi said this in the backdrop of China’s surprise offensive against India in May 2020 with the standoff still continuing.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN Human Right chief, has said she has been discussing a possible visit to Xinjiang with Chinese authorities. But even if the visit does materialize, she will be taken and shown ‘chosen’ facilities where she will find little amiss, the same way China conducted journalists from 24 countries in Xinjiang during July 2019. The UN Human Rights Council meeting was a ‘rare’ event’ and may or may not get repeated depending on the pressure China applies but a repeat too will find China denying all accusations. For that matter, what has the UN done about Pakistan called the epicenter of terrorism past several years?
But if the United Nations and the world at large will limit itself to mere criticism, it will amount to boosting a rogue China with tragic consequences.
China has become a threat to humanity and deserves the imposition of severe sanctions. Subjecting the world to the coronavirus– which is speculated to be a disease that emerged from Wuhan Institute of Virology, though most experts have discounted the theory - itself requires instituting a War Crimes Tribunal to try Xi Jinping and others involved.
(The author is an Indian Army veteran. The views expressed are personal)