Yearender 2020: Clampdown in Hong Kong, treatment of Uyghurs worsen China's image

ANI
·3-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

New Delhi [India], December 31 (ANI): It was a year that worsened China's global image. While COVID-19, which emerged in its city of Wuhan, was a factor, China's coercive tactics with countries in its neighbourhood and beyond, its clampdown on people in Hong Kong in breach of "one government two system promise" and "repressive policies" against Uyghurs in Xinjiang raised further concerns over its human rights record.

In a year dominated by COVID-19, China unfolded its "ruthless crackdown" on dissent and pro-democracy protesters.

Under President Xi Jinping, the one-party Chinese government faced criticism for its "sweeping" human rights violations and its ambitions for "ideological control" that are seen not limited to his own people but "to remake the world according to the CCP".

Chinese government tightened its grip over internet and social media regulation amounting to "censorship". It strengthened ideological control, particularly in education among religious and ethnic minorities while the world was adjusting itself to the "new normal".

Human Rights Watch said in its 2020 World Report that China devoted massive resources to new technologies "for social control, adding artificial intelligence, biometrics, and big data to its arsenal to monitor and shape the minds and behaviours of 1.4 billion people".

"Government censorship now extends far beyond its borders," the Human Rights Watch said.

China imposed a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong. The clampdown on dissent effectively voided China's pledge to permit Hong Kong to take care of rights promised for 50 years following the 1997 handover from British colonial rule.

"Going back on its promise of 'one country, two systems', China unleashed crackdown with an utmost vengeance by arresting leading opposition figures and the expulsion of local lawmakers prompting the entire opposition camp to resign. Under the national security law, a legal framework was found out to stop and punish subversion, terrorism, separatism/secession and any foreign interference. The law made any of these acts a crime," Human Rights Watch said.

Earlier in 2019, there was a move by China to bring an extradition bill which led to huge protests. Between three to four million people (out of around seven million population of Hong Kong) participated in the protests and extradition bill was cancelled.

Kyodo News reported that Japan provided intelligence to the US on China's forceful detainment of Muslim Uyghur minority people. It led to criticism of "crackdown" on Uyghurs.

Human Rights Watch also said that China's policies in Xinjiang, have "entailed mass arbitrary detention, surveillance, indoctrination, and the destruction of the region's cultural and religious heritage".

"Uyghurs were forced to disavow their identity and become loyal government subjects," it said.

The reports also mentioned of people being sent to prison, some getting lengthy and even death sentences.

There have been reports of children being held in state-run "child welfare" institutions and boarding schools without parental consent or access.

The Human Rights Watch report said China keeps tabs on many facets of people's lives, including their movements and electricity use, and alerts authorities when it detects irregularities.

"Even tourists to the region--including non-Chinese citizens--are required to download a phone app that secretly monitors them," it said.

The Trump administration placed a series of sanctions on Beijing for human rights violations against Uyghurs, such as visa restriction on Chinese officials, heightening bilateral tensions but a combination of growing economic means and technical capacity has led to an unprecedented regime of mass surveillance by China.

Chinese actions have also led to allegations of "bullying". There are apprehensions that if not challenged, Beijing's actions portend a dystopian future in which Chinese censors exercise a lot of control and an international human rights system gets so weakened that it no longer serves as a check on government repression. (ANI)