Full of ignorance of and bias against China, some people from the US and other Western countries have recently made groundless accusations against and disseminated many fallacies about China’s human rights conditions concerning Hong Kong, COVID-19, and Xinjiang.
Even a small discrepancy will lead to a great error. Malicious lies will, still worse, result in huge misconception and misunderstanding.
In this connection, we have compiled What’s False and What’s True on China-related Human Rights Matters, with the purpose of setting the record straight with facts.
Falsehoods find no market among the fair-minded, as we are confident that people will tell right from wrong!
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will undermine the human rights and basic freedoms of Hong Kong residents, and violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
◆The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, which the residents of the Region enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.
◆The legislation only targets four types of offences, namely, secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. It is designed to deter and sanction a small minority in Hong Kong who are involved in offences seriously jeopardizing national security. It aims to protect the great majority of law-abiding Hong Kong residents, and safeguard their safety and lawful rights and freedoms.
◆It is spelt out in the constitutions of over 100 countries that the exercise of basic rights and freedoms shall not endanger national security. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights makes it clear that freedoms of religious belief, expression and peaceful assembly, the right to public trial and other rights may be subject to restrictions that are necessary to protect national security, public order and so on. There are similar provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong may include vaguely defined offences, and be abused by China’s national security authorities to oppress the people.
◆The legislation only targets four types of offences that seriously jeopardize national security, much less than the dozens of crimes involving national security listed in countries such as the US and the UK. The legislation sets clear limits on related law enforcement activities. It requires that all law enforcement efforts be conducted in strict accordance with legal provisions and statutory mandates and procedures, without prejudice to the lawful rights and interests of any individual or organization. It also provides that the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall perform its mandate in strict compliance with the law and be subject to supervision in accordance with the law. The staff of the Office shall abide by the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as national laws.
◆Countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia have all established rigorous legal frameworks for safeguarding national security, which shows no mercy in combating offences endangering national security.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will make it difficult for foreign businesses in Hong Kong to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of the UN.
◆The legislation only targets four types of offences, namely, secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. Clearly, these offences are not what law-abiding businesses and residents in Hong Kong would ever engage in. Law-abiding trans-national businesses all want to see a Hong Kong back to stability and order. The implementation of this Law will help them better fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights.
False: The Hong Kong police have gotten away with the excessive use of force (such as using chemicals against protesters, committing sexual harassment and assault on female protesters at police stations, and harassing medical workers).
◆During the turbulence over the amendment bill, the Hong Kong police dealt with hundreds of violent incidents in accordance with the law and police guidelines for months. Yet the radical protesters kept upgrading their equipment, from stones and iron bars to steel-ball slingshots, knife-attached umbrellas and dangerous chemicals. Even so, the police all along demonstrated the maximum level of calm, rationality, and restraint, and refrained from the first use of force. They only used force correspondingly to stop violent attacks or other illegal acts threatening the life and safety of other people on site, which is totally in line with international practice. They acted in a restrained, civil and highly professional manner even when their own lives and safety were threatened by dangerous weapons and violent and illegal activities. In fact, not a single protester in Hong Kong had died because of the law enforcement activity of the police. Yet over 590 police officers had been injured on duty by the end of May.
◆In sharp contrast to the restrained and professional performance of duty by the Hong Kong police, there are many reports about the US police killing people with violence and guns in the course of law enforcement. The year 2019 alone saw 1,004 such cases. By mid-June, at least 13 people had lost their lives in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, in addition to hundreds of injuries and over 13.5 thousand arrests. For example, Linda Tirado, a 37-year-old freelance writer and journalist, has been left permanently blind in one eye after being shot with rubber bullets by the police during her coverage of protests in Minneapolis.
False: The Chinese government has suppressed the protests and the promotion of democracy in Hong Kong.
◆What has happened since the return of Hong Kong proves that the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration enjoyed by Hong Kong residents in accordance with the law have been fully protected.
◆Since the turbulence over the amendment bill in June last year, some radical protesters have deliberately stirred up violent incidents. Their actions have gone far beyond the scope of peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression, and turned into extremist, violent and illegal acts. Such violent acts have blatantly violated laws, posed serious threats to the safety of Hong Kong citizens and openly challenged the sovereignty and dignity of the State. The malicious nature of their acts has been laid bare by clear facts and solid evidence.
◆Peaceful and reasonable expression of demand is a basic requirement and an intrinsic part of a culturally advanced society based on the rule of law. Having said that, rights must be exercised within the framework of the rule of law, and no demand should be expressed by illegal means, let alone resorting to violence. The rule of law is the core value of Hong Kong and the cornerstone for its long-term stability and prosperity. Ensuring observance of laws and prosecution of lawbreakers is a manifestation of the spirit of the rule of law. Only by taking zero tolerance toward violence and rioters, can Hong Kong’s law and order be protected and the rule of law upheld. Supporting and conniving at violence and rioters represents a flagrant infringement of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong violates China’s commitments and obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
◆The legal basis for the Chinese government to govern Hong Kong is the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is not relevant in this regard. As China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all provisions concerning the UK under the Joint Declaration had been fulfilled. The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or “right of supervision” over Hong Kong after its return.
◆The basic policies regarding Hong Kong stated by China in the Joint Declaration are not commitments to the UK, but China’s declaration of its policies, which have since been fully embodied in the Basic Law enacted by the National People’s Congress (NPC). These policies have not changed; they will continue to be upheld by China.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong has been unilaterally imposed on Hong Kong by the Central Government of China.
◆National security legislation has always been a matter concerning the sovereignty of the State and within the purview of the Central Authorities. The Central Government of China assumes the primary and ultimate responsibility for safeguarding national security. As the highest organ of State power in China, the NPC has established and improved, at the State level, the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. This is vital for plugging the legal loopholes relating to national security in Hong Kong and effectively protecting national security. It is also a fundamental measure for ensuring the steady and sustained implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems.
◆Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong SAR shall enact laws on its own to safeguard national security. Nearly 23 years after Hong Kong’s return to China, however, the relevant legislative process is still not materialized due to the sabotage and obstruction by anti-China, destabilizing elements in Hong Kong as well as hostile forces from the outside. Faced with the grave situation in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, the Central Government has both the power and the responsibility to promptly plug the loopholes and strengthen the weak links.
◆The Macao SAR passed in early 2009 its Law on Safeguarding National Security, and has conducted, in a well-ordered manner, relevant law enforcement work and study of supportive legislation for safeguarding national security. In 2018, the Macao SAR Government set up a committee for safeguarding national security to coordinate and enforce local initiatives relating to national security. It has continued to improve its legal system, institutions and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security.
◆The UK applied the Treason Act to Hong Kong with specialized enforcement agencies during its colonial rule. But now it is making groundless accusations against the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong enacted by China’s central authorities. This is pure double standards.
False: No meaningful consultation over the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong was held with the people in Hong Kong. Therefore, the legislation lacks public support.
◆The legislative process fully demonstrates the shared will of all Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots. In drafting the Law, the Central Authorities and relevant departments had solicited through various means and channels opinions and suggestions from the Chief Executive and other principal officials of the Hong Kong SAR Government, the President of the Legislative Council, representatives from the legal community of Hong Kong, members of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Committee, NPC deputies, members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), etc. In the revision and refinement of the draft, the views and suggestions from the Hong Kong SAR Government were carefully studied and accepted as much as possible, and Hong Kong’s actual conditions were fully considered. Thanks to these efforts, the legislative process was carried out in a well-conceived and democratic way and in accordance with law.
◆Relevant departments of the Central Authorities held 12 symposiums in Hong Kong, at which 120 representatives from, among others, the political, legal, business, financial, educational, scientific, cultural, religious, youth and labor sectors as well as social and local organizations in Hong Kong candidly expressed their opinions. The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR received more than 200 written opinions from 36 Hong Kong deputies to the NPC and 190 Hong Kong members of the CPPCC National Committee in a short period of time. People from all walks of life in Hong Kong were also able to express their opinions via email, letters or the official NPC website.
◆The relevant Decision of the NPC received support from representatives of all sectors in Hong Kong immediately after its release. Nearly three million people in Hong Kong have signed a petition in support of the enactment of the Law, and more than 1.28 million have signed an online petition opposing the interference by the US and other external forces.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong marks the end of One country, Two systems and deprives Hong Kong of its high degree of autonomy.
◆The NPC decision makes it clear, from the very beginning, that the State resolutely, fully and faithfully implements the policy of One Country, Two Systems under which Hong Kong people administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. This commitment was reaffirmed in Article 1 of the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. The goal of this legislation is to close the critical loophole in national security in Hong Kong, cement the foundation of One Country, and provide maximum safeguard for Hong Kong to harness the strengths of Two Systems on the basis of upholding One Country.
◆The enacted legislation will not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under the law. It will not affect the HKSAR’s independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. There will be no change to the policy of One Country, Two Systems, the capitalist system, the high degree of autonomy, or the legal system of the Hong Kong SAR.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will jeopardize Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
◆Quite the contrary, the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will contribute to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. Since the turbulence over proposed legislative amendments last June, the “Hong Kong independence” groups and violent terrorist acts have dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong’s rule of law, economy and livelihood. The city’s business environment and international image has also been severely damaged. The legislation is designed precisely to reverse that situation. It will help Hong Kong sustain a favorable business environment, consolidate and elevate its status as a financial, trade and shipping center, and bolster the confidence of foreign investors. After its adoption, the NPC decision received explicit support from many Hong Kong-based foreign-invested corporations, including HSBC, Standard Chartered, Swire and Jardines. They are all convinced that the legislation will contribute to the lasting stability of Hong Kong, and serve as the very foundation and prerequisite for all development.
◆Around the globe, be it New York or London, no international financial center will see its business environment undermined by the enforcement of a national security legislation. A recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong shows that more than 70 percent of companies don’t have plans to move capital, assets, or business operations from Hong Kong, and more than 60 percent of the respondents personally don’t consider leaving the city. No businesses will turn against opportunities and profits.
◆The Macao SAR passed its national security legislation in 2009 in accordance with Article 23 of its Basic Law. From 2009 to 2019, Macao’s GDP soared by 153 percent, its number of tourists up by 81 percent, and its overall unemployment rate down to a ten-year low.
False: China tried to cover up COVID-19, resulting in its spread across the world with over 10 million infections.
◆The Chinese government adopted the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough measures in the shortest possible time. The infections were largely kept within Wuhan with the chain of transmission effectively cut off.
◆On 9 May, researchers from Yale University and the Jinan University found in a joint study that the measures China has taken, including city lockdown, closed management of communities, quarantine and family outdoor restrictions, have significantly decreased the virus transmission rate. Thanks to these measures, the spread of the virus was effectively curbed in mid-February. China’s national and provincial public health measures may have prevented over 1.4 million infections and 56,000 deaths outside Hubei Province by 29 February. A report published by the journal Science estimated that China’s rigorous measures resulted in about 700,000 fewer infections, or 96% of cases.
◆On 25 February, the China-WHO Joint Mission consisting of 25 Chinese and international experts elaborated on the response measures taken by China and their effectiveness at a press conference in Geneva. The Mission pointed out that the usual epidemiological trajectory would be a surge in cases following an outbreak like COVID-19. China, with its robust intervention, significantly bent the curve. The Chinese people, with their resilience and sacrifice, have remarkably slowed the spread of the virus and won a precious window of opportunity for the world.
◆On 23 January, when Wuhan went into lockdown, the US counted only one confirmed case. On 2 February, when the US shut down its border to China, its official case count was merely eleven. According to news reports, statistics from countries including Canada, France, Russia, Australia, Singapore and Japan indicate that most of the cases in their countries did not come from China.
◆As Governor Cuomo of the State of New York pointed out, research by the Northeast University of the US shows that the first strain of the novel coronavirus entered his state not from China. As reported by the New York Times, many US experts have confirmed that Asia was not the main source of the outbreak in New York. Canada’s provincial data also suggest that the country’s early coronavirus cases came from American travelers.
◆On 21 May, Dr. Pavan K. Bhatraju from the the Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington published a paper on the New England Journal of Medicine involving 24 severe cases in nine medical facilities in Seattle between 24 February and 9 March. None of the patients had recently traveled to China, the ROK, Italy or Iran, or had known exposure to a returning traveler. The source of infection in those cases was unidentifiable.
◆A report released on 8 June by Oxford, Edinburgh University and Cog-UK, an academic research organization, detected at least 1,356 independent transmission lineages based on more than 20,000 genome sequencing in the UK. Only 0.08% of the transmissions could be traced to China, an impact almost negligible. The report found that the contribution of China and other Asian countries to the number of importations in the UK was “very small”.
◆A recent NYT article “Why Is the United States Exporting Coronavirus?” pointed out that the US, with the largest number of coronavirus cases in the world, is continuing to deport thousands of illegal immigrants, many infected with the coronavirus. In late April, the government of Guatemala reported that nearly a fifth of the country’s coronavirus cases were linked to deportees from the US. For instance, 71 of the 76 deportees on one flight tested positive.
False: The Wuhan lockdown measures violated citizens’ right to personal liberty
◆Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, was the first to report novel coronavirus cases. At the most critical moment against the virus, Wuhan enforced temporary travel restrictions in accordance with the law, which mainly include suspension of public transportation, such as city buses, subway services, ferries and coaches, and temporary closing of transport links, including airports, train stations and expressways. These important measures strictly contained the infections at the source, cut off the chain of transmission, and effectively forestalled massive spread of the disease. These measures helped reduce case exportation to other parts of China and the rest of the world, playing a positive role in the containment of COVID-19.
◆For a mega-city like Wuhan with more than 11 million people, restrictions on inbound and outbound travel pose an enormous challenge. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government took a string of measures to minimize the impact. Essential travel and much-needed key supplies were ensured, with priority given to people’s daily necessities. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang traveled to Wuhan during the city’s battle against COVID-19. They visited local communities for first-hand information on the life of the residents, stressing that people’s essential needs must be ensured.
◆Thanks to the timely, most comprehensive, rigorous, and thorough containment measures taken by the Chinese government, the chain of transmission was effectively cut off. What China did was widely recognized by the science community. In an interview on 25 January, Dr. Gauden Galea, the WHO Representative in China, said that Wuhan’s lockdown measures would effectively curb the spread of the virus, and the temporary sacrifice would be a strong contribution to global public health security.
◆Recognizing the right to life as the most fundamental human right, the Chinese government is committed to putting people and life first. To protect people’s life and health, China put its socio-economic activities on hold, decisively adopted measures such as quarantine and followed WHO’s professional recommendations. Guided by science, China stopped the virus in its tracks and committed itself to saving lives at all costs. From a 108-year-old man to a 30-hour-old newborn baby, every patient was treated with no effort spared. To date, more than 3,000 senior patients aged 80 or above, including seven centenarians, have recovered after treatment in Hubei. In fact, some critically-ill elderly patients were brought back to life from the verge of death. There was a case of a 70-year-old patient who might not have survived COVID-19 had it not been for the many weeks of intensive treatment and care from about a dozen health workers. The expenses of the treatment, nearly 1.5 million yuan, were fully covered by the government.
◆In contrast, the US government has ignored science, played down the threat of the virus, and even resorted to blame shifting. This resulted in massive domestic outbreaks that cost the lives and health of many Americans, plunged the economy into recession and led to social turbulence. It was a typical example of putting political self-interests first. By 30 June, the US reported over 2.68 million confirmed cases and nearly 130,000 deaths, or 387 deaths per million. They are 30, 27, and 129 times the numbers in China. According to USCDC Director Robert Redfield, the number of coronavirus infections in the US could be 10 times higher than the confirmed case count. In other words, the number of infections in the US may have exceeded 20 million.
◆Vulnerable groups in the US are struggling to survive under COVID-19. The NYT website on 11 May reported that at least 28,100 residents and staff at nursing homes and other old-age care facilities across the US had died of the coronavirus, accounting for a third of the death toll in the US. According to USCDC statistics, as of 13 May, 22.4 percent of the country’s COVID-19 fatalities were African Americans, much higher than their 12.5 percent share in the US population. Hispanic Americans also suffered higher infection and fatality rates. Data from the city of New York in early April recorded 34 percent of COVID-19 deaths as Latinos.
◆In comparison to other countries’ COVID-19 response, China’s control measures have proven to be most effective at saving lives. As reported by the NYT website on 20 May, a study from the Columbia University suggests the delay in imposing travel restrictions claimed at least 36,000 American lives. Had the US government acted one week earlier, 36,000 lives could have been saved. Had the restrictions been introduced two weeks earlier, 83 percent of the deaths could have been avoided.
False: During COVID-19, the Chinese government cracked down on journalists and medical workers as they exercised their right to freedom of speech on the Internet, resulting in lack of information transparency.
◆All countries have strict regulations on the confirmation and information release of infectious diseases. This is an international common practice. In China, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases stipulates rigorous reviewing procedures and requirements concerning the reporting, verification and information release of infectious diseases.
◆Open and transparent information is key to tackling epidemics. China’s National Health Commission collects and releases, on a daily basis, data of confirmed cases of all provinces to ensure that the data is accurate and reliable. Any cover-up or under-reporting is strictly held accountable. At the same time, the Chinese government exercises law-based management over the Internet, including social media. Heated debates among different views are easily found online in China. The Chinese government welcomes oversight by the public and media, while at the same time opposes illegal acts of starting and spreading rumor, creating panic or disrupting public order.
◆In China, no one gets punished or penalized simply because of making remarks. China’s criminal law clearly stipulates what actions constitute crimes. Violating the criminal law is a prerequisite of conviction. A handful of people, out of their hidden agenda, purport to have been convicted for speaking out in China. Their claim has no factual basis.
◆The Chinese government has all along conducted its COVID-19 response in an open and transparent manner, and has made widely recognized achievements. China is a country under the rule of law. Whether during the fight against the virus or in other times, China’s public security authorities handle cases and illegal activities in strict accordance with law.
False: China detained Dr. Li Wenliang and other whistle-blowers.
◆Li Wenliang was an ophthalmologist. He was not a whistle-blower and was not detained. Dr. Zhang Jixian, a respiratory doctor, was the first to report COVID-19 cases, and was awarded for this contribution.
◆On the afternoon of 30 December 2019 (three days after Dr. Zhang Jixian reported cases of unknown infection and one day before Wuhan released the relevant information), Dr. Li Wenliang sent a message to his alumni WeChat group. He claimed that there were “seven confirmed SARS cases”, and asked the group not to spread the information. However, leaked screenshots of the conversation spread quickly on the Internet and caused panic.
On 3 January 2020, Wuhan’s local police authorities asked Dr. Li to a police station for inquiry, and issued him a letter of reprimand as a means of persuasion.
In mid-January, Dr. Li started to show symptoms of infection. And on 31 January, he was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
On 7 February, Dr. Li passed away after all rescue measures were exhausted. On the same day, the National Health Commission publicly expressed condolences over his death. The National Supervisory Commission decided to send an inspection group to Wuhan to investigate issues related to Dr. Li.
On 19 March, the inspection group released its findings and held a press briefing. Wuhan’s Public Security Bureau announced the decision on the matter, pointing to the misapplication of relevant legal provisions in Dr. Li’s case, and revoked the reprimand letter.
◆On 5 March, Dr. Li Wenliang was named a “national model healthcare worker in fighting COVID-19”. On 2 April, he was honored as a martyr. On 28 April, he was awarded the 24th “May Fourth Medal”.
◆Dr. Li Wenliang was a good doctor and a member of the CPC. Labeling Dr. Li Wenliang as an “anti-establishment hero” or “awakener” is highly disrespectful to Dr. Li and his family. It is pure political manipulation without decency. On 30 May, responding to the bills introduced by US lawmakers to rename the street outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. “Li Wenliang Plaza”, Dr. Li’s wife Fu Xuejie issued a statement on Weibo that said, “Wenliang was a CPC member. He loved his country deeply. Should he know about this, he would never allow anyone to hurt his motherland in his name.”
False: China has taken advantage of COVID-19 to conduct large-scale surveillance with big data, violating its citizens’ privacy.
◆COVID-19 struck during China’s Spring Festival, the annual travel peak on a scale rarely seen elsewhere in the world in this country with 1.4 billion people. This created unprecedented challenges for disease control. China has harnessed big data, artificial intelligence, 5G and other technologies, and devised a smart technology app called “health code” for virus containment. This app helped avert the risk of infection, and facilitated transportation and reopening of the economy. The “health code” app has been used in other countries as well, and tens of thousands of users downloaded it on the first day of its overseas launch. We have also noted that quite a number of countries have drawn on China’s experience and practice in this regard in their COVID-19 response.
◆The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting citizens’ privacy and has been working to improve relevant laws and regulations. Clear stipulations on the collection, use and protection of personal information are set out in China’s General Provisions of the Civil Law, the Cybersecurity Law, the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Strengthening Internet Information Protection and other laws and regulations.
◆China has long been deeply concerned about the large-scale electronic surveillance and personal data collection worldwide and violations against national sovereignty and human rights, especially the right to privacy, conducted by certain countries. China advocates that the United Nations take concrete measures to stop the certain countries from making such moves. Illegal or arbitrary surveillance over communications and collection of personal data not only violate people’s privacy, but also affect their right to exercise freedoms of expression, association and assembly and right to know. Because of the highly globalized nature of communication technologies represented by the Internet, large-scale electronic surveillance not only infringes upon the human rights of a country’s own citizens, but also flagrantly violates the human rights of people in other countries, seriously undermines the sovereignty of other countries, and goes against the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs.
◆The USA Patriot Act introduced after the September 11 incident requires that Internet companies provide user information on a regular basis. According to information exposed under the PRISM program, Americans have no privacy in their phone calls, correspondence, documents and voice mails, which are all under the surveillance of intelligence agencies. Phone calls by the leaders of US’s once-close allies have long been wiretapped by the US as well. As it turns out, it is the US that has carried out the largest-scale cyber surveillance and cyber theft worldwide. This country is the world’s largest “empire of hackers”. In this regard, the United Nations adopted a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age proposed by European countries.
◆Cybersecurity threats and risks are increasing by the day, with privacy infringements and other cybercrimes occurring from time to time. China places importance on strengthening data security management and personal information protection through legislative and technological means. Relevant laws such as the Cybersecurity Law have clear stipulations on the collection, use and storage of personal information and the protection of data security. China cracks down on data theft, privacy infringement and other related illegal and criminal activities in accordance with law. China is committed to enhancing dialogue and cooperation with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and trust to jointly address cybersecurity threats and challenges and build a cyberspace community with a shared future.
False: The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang are “concentration camps” detaining over one million Uyghurs.
◆The vocational education and training centers, established in accordance with law in Xinjiang, are no different in nature from the community corrections in the US, the Desistance and Disengagement Programme (DDP) in the UK, and the deradicalization centers in France. All of them are useful measures and positive explorations for preventive counter-terrorism and deradicalization, and are in line with the principles and spirit of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other counter-terrorism resolutions.
◆The education and training work in Xinjiang is guided by the spirit of the rule of law as well as international principles on counter-terrorism and deradicalization. It has solid legal basis and follows well-defined legal procedures, and is done in a way that makes no linkage to any specific region, ethnic group or religion. There is no such thing as “suppression on ethnic minorities” or “persecution of Muslims”.
◆The claim that “nearly one million Uyghurs are detained”, an outright rumor, is based on two highly dubious “studies”.
The first “study” was done by the US government-backed Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) with interviews of only eight people. The CHRD applied the estimated ratio shown in this absurdly small sample to the whole of Xinjiang, drawing a crude conclusion that one million people were detained in the “re-education detention camps” and two million were “forced to attend day/evening re-education sessions”.
The second “study” was done by a far-right fundamentalist Christian Adrian Zenz, a.k.a. Zheng Guoen. According to The Grayzone, a US-based independent news website, Zenz is a senior fellow in China studies at the far-right Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation established by the US government in 1983, and a senior member in a research group set up with the masterminding of the US intelligence community to study Xinjiang’s vocational education and training centers. He believes he is “led by God” on a “mission” against China.
In September 2018, Zenz wrote an article published in the Central Asian Survey journal, concluding that “Xinjiang’s total re-education internment figure may be estimated at just over one million.” According to The Grayzone, Zenz based this conclusion on a single report by Istiqlal TV, a Uyghur exile media organization based in Turkey. Far from a journalistic organization, Istiqlal TV advances separatism while playing host to an assortment of extremist figures. One such character who often appears on Istiqlal TV is Abduqadir Yaqupjan, a leader of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Maybe it was because the reference he cited was too absurd even to himself, that Zenz admitted that “there is no certainty” to his estimate. But Zenz “bumped up” his estimate again in November 2019, claiming China was detaining 1.8 million people.
False: The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang carried out “political indoctrination and intimidation” over the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
◆The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang provided courses on standard spoken and written Chinese language, legal knowledge, professional skills and deradicalization, to address the inadequate language proficiency, lack of legal literacy and job skills, as well as the varying degrees of religious extremism influence among their trainees. The purpose of the centers is to tackle terrorism and religious extremism at the root, not so-called “political indoctrination and intimidation” by any means.
◆Through all-round learning, the trainees have freed themselves from the influence of terrorism and religious extremism. Their overall capacity has been improved, as evidenced by a markedly increased understanding of the law, the ability to speak and write in standard Chinese, acquisition of practical skills and the general improvement in employability. Most of them have found jobs that give them a stable income, and notably improved their families’ living standards.
False: The vocational education and training centers are poorly conditioned and lack medical facilities. The trainees are subjected to forced political indoctrination and torture, and are deprived of their rights to exercise religious customs, use local ethnic languages among others.
◆The vocational education and training centers strictly follow the basic principle of respecting and protecting human rights enshrined in China’s Constitution and other laws. The trainees’ basic rights and personal dignity are well protected, and insults or abuse against the trainees in any manner are prohibited. The centers fully guarantee the personal freedom of trainees. The centers are managed as boarding schools where trainees may go home on a regular basis and ask for leave to attend to personal matters, and enjoy the freedom of correspondence.
◆Trainees’ freedom of religious belief is fully respected and protected at the centers. Those with a religious belief can decide on their own whether to take part in legal religious activities when they are at home.
◆The centers fully respect and protect the customs of all ethnic groups and provide a rich variety of nutritious halal food free of charge.
◆The trainees’ right to use the spoken and written languages of their own ethnicity is fully protected at the centers. All regulations, curricula and canteen menus at the centers are written in both standard Chinese and local ethnic languages.
◆The centers have well-equipped facilities. Dorms are furnished with radio, television, and air conditioning or electric fans. Medical facilities are set up to provide free health counseling services and treatment for trainees. There are also venues for basketball, volleyball, table tennis and other sports, cultural venues such as reading rooms, computer rooms and cinemas, as well as venues for performances like auditoriums and open-air stages. Singing and dancing performances of different ethnic groups, sports games and other extra-curricular activities are often held to meet trainees’ learning, living and entertainment needs to the greatest extent possible.
◆Legal counseling rooms are set up in the centers to help address trainees’ law-related difficulties and questions promptly. There are psychotherapy rooms to provide psychological counseling services and care for trainees’ mental health. All trainees are covered by old-age, medical and other social insurances and free medical check-ups.
False: Detainees in the mass internment camps in Xinjiang include permanent residents of the US and Australia.
◆The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang have never received trainees who are not Chinese nationals.
False: Xinjiang’s special operations against violent terrorist activities aim to suppress ethnic minorities under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
◆Xinjiang had suffered long and deep from terrorism and extremism. Statistics show that from 1990 to 2016, ethnic separatists, religious extremists and violent terrorists plotted and conducted several thousand violent terrorist cases and incidents, killing a large number of innocent civilians and several hundred police officers, and causing immeasurable property losses. These incidents inflicted untold sufferings on the people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
◆In the face of a grave and complicated counter-terrorism situation and the urgent demand from people of all ethnic groups for suppressing violence and terrorist crimes and protecting life and property safety, China’s Xinjiang region has taken a series of active measures. Responding to the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other counter-terrorism resolutions, Xinjiang has upheld the principle of not linking terrorism with any particular region, ethnic group or religion, and acted in accordance with the law to crack down on violence and terrorist activities that violate human rights, endanger public security, undermine ethnic unity and aim at separating the country. Since 2014, a total of 1,588 violent and terrorist groups have been taken out, 12,995 violent terrorists arrested and 2,052 explosive devices seized. Such operations have effectively curbed the rising trend of frequent terrorist activities and protected people’s right to life, right to health, right to development and other basic rights to the maximum extent. These measures have received full support from people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
◆Through law-based counter-terrorism, deradicalization and vocational education and training, Xinjiang has not seen a single violent terrorist case in the past three-odd years. Extremist infiltration has been effectively curbed, public security significantly improved and people’s sense of fulfillment, happiness and security markedly enhanced.
◆In October 2019, more than 60 countries spoke in support of China’s Xinjiang policy at the United Nations General Assembly. Among them, over 30 are Islamic countries. In contrast, none of the few countries criticizing China’s Xinjiang policy are Islamic countries.
◆Since late December 2018, more than 1,000 people from over 90 countries visited Xinjiang in 70-plus groups. They include UN officials, foreign envoys to China, representatives of relevant countries to Geneva, journalists and members of religious groups. After their visits, they expressed the view that Xinjiang’s counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts are in line with the purposes and principles of the UN in fighting terrorism and upholding basic human rights and that these efforts deserve to be fully recognized and emulated by others.
False: China restricts the freedom of communication and movement of Uyghurs in Xinjiang in the name of counter-terrorism and deradicalization.
◆Xinjiang has never restricted the freedom of movement of Uyghurs or people of any other ethnic group. In Xinjiang, anyone from any ethnic group, except those prohibited from leaving the country for suspected crimes, can exit and enter China freely. Several hundred thousand people from Xinjiang are now overseas.
◆Xinjiang has never restricted Uyghurs or people of other ethnic groups from contacting their overseas relatives. They can do so not only through international phone calls, but also through voice and video chats on instant messaging apps such as WeChat and QQ. They can also do business and trade with people in other countries through various communication means.
False: Xinjiang conducts large-scale surveillance on local ethnic minorities.
◆It is an international common practice to harness modern technology and big data in improving social governance. For example, there were 4.2 million surveillance cameras installed in the UK as early as 2010, the highest number in the world then. Today the country has about six million cameras, one for every ten people. In the United States, facial recognition is conducted in the top 20 airports against passengers. The city surveillance system built by New York police has devices covering every neighborhood of the city watching people and vehicles on the street and tracking and screening information on people’s mobile phones. What Xinjiang has done in this respect pales significantly in comparison with these two countries.
◆The cameras in urban and rural public places, main roads and transport hubs in Xinjiang are installed in accordance with the law for the purpose of improving social governance and forestalling and combating crimes. These measures make people feel safer and are widely supported by people of all ethnic groups. The measure does not target any specific ethnicity, not to mention that cameras by themselves identify or target no specific ethnicity. They are there to deter bad guys and protect good people.
False: Mass forced labor against ethnic minorities is taking place in Xinjiang.
◆According to a US news website the Greyzone, the forced labor stories were in fact a PR blitz orchestrated by anti-China forces from the US and Australia.
◆The stories were cooked up by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which has long been funded by the US government and American arms dealers. To serve the interests of its sponsors, the institute blatantly spread disinformation to vilify and demonize China, particularly on Xinjiang-related issues. Together with anti-China forces in the US, the ASPI made up baseless and biased stories to smear and attack Xinjiang’s counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts. The institute has no credibility whatsoever. Former Australian Ambassador to China Geoff Raby sees the ASPI as “the architect of the China threat theory in Australia”. Former Qantas Airways CEO John Menadue said the institute “lacks integrity and brings shame to Australia”.
◆Ethnic minority workers from Xinjiang are part and parcel of the country’s labor force. They have the rights to be employed, sign labor contracts, obtain labor remunerations, take rest and vacations, acquire labor safety and health protection, and enjoy social insurance and welfare as prescribed by law. They have the freedom to choose their occupation. Their personal freedom has never been restricted.
◆There are only limited job opportunities in the four southern Xinjiang prefectures (Hotan, Aksu and Kashi prefectures, and Kizilsu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture) as industrialization and urbanization there are underdeveloped. The government of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has taken measures based on the wishes of local people to help them find jobs in their hometowns, nearby cities or other areas of Xinjiang, or in the provinces and cities that have pair-up assistance programs with Xinjiang, thus ensuring peoples’ right to work to the maximum extent. Since 2018, Xinjiang has helped 151,000 surplus rural workers from poor families in the southern prefectures to find employment elsewhere. With an average annual income of over 45,000 yuan, these workers have all been lifted out of poverty.
◆China has been improving its legal system and its State Council has established an inter-agency mechanism to crack down on crimes such as human trafficking and forced labor. Such efforts have proven effective. China earnestly fulfills its international obligations and has ratified 26 international conventions on human rights. China will continue to strengthen exchanges with all parties and fight forced labor and other crimes together.
False: Xinjiang has demolished a large number of mosques
◆Xinjiang has seen sound development of the religion of Islam. The number of mosques in Xinjiang has grown from some 2,000 at the beginning of reform and opening-up in the late 1970s to 24,400 today, more than 10 times that in the United States. In Xinjiang, there is a mosque for every 530 Muslims on average.
◆Xinjiang takes the preservation and maintenance of mosques very seriously. Some cramped and dilapidated mosques, those with poor layout designs and those inconvenient for religious activities have been rebuilt, relocated or expanded in light of the needs and wishes of local Muslim communities. Such adjustments have been welcomed by religious leaders and believers.
False: Graveyards of ethnic minorities are demolished in parts of Xinjiang.
◆Under the regulations of the local authorities, the government does not promote cremation for ethnic minorities observing traditional ways of interment. On the contrary, it takes concrete measures to help preserve the tradition, by designating burial ground and building dedicated cemeteries. Besides, there is no restriction on other ethnic customs followed in weddings, funerals, and name-giving ceremonies.
False: The “Pair Up and Become Family” program is designed to monitor ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
◆Since 2016, an extensive ethnic unity campaign has been conducted among government officials and people of different ethnicities in Xinjiang. Some 1.1 million officials have paired up and made friends with 1.6 million local people, treating each other like family members. They have respected and helped each other, and forged deep bonds through close interactions. The officials leveraged their expertise to help local people explore ways to shake off poverty and address difficulties in their lives, such as access to medical services, job opportunities and education. The campaign, with its real, substantial benefits to the public, has been well received by the people of all ethnic groups.
False: The local government sends Uyghur children to boarding schools and separates them from their parents.
◆The boarding school system is an effective means to improve education in China’s remote areas and ease the burden on students and their families. In Xinjiang, students of all ethnicities attend schools closest to their homes. Those living near the campus can be commuter students. For those living further away, schools provide them with free accommodation, plus free meals for those from rural families. It is up to the students and their parents to decide whether to live on or off campus.
False: The Chinese government forces sterilization, abortion and birth control on Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
◆The Chinese government protects the lawful rights and interests of all Chinese without distinction of ethnicity. Over the years, the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities have enjoyed a preferential population policy. In the four decades between 1978 and 2018, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang increased from 5.55 million to 11.68 million, accounting for 46.8% of the total population of the autonomous region.
◆To put things into perspective, let’s look at the situation in the United States. Racial and ethnic minorities in the US have long been the targets of bullying, exclusion, and widespread and systemic discrimination in the political, economic, cultural and social aspects of their lives. Take Native Americans as an example. For quite a long period of time, the US government had been enforcing a policy of genocide, segregation and assimilation against Native Americans. For nearly a century after its founding, the US was uprooting and killing American Indians in its Westward Movement. The Native American population plunged from 5 million in 1492 to 0.25 million in the early 20th century. It now accounts for a mere 2 percent of the US population. Another example, African Americans. African Americans have a COVID-19 infection rate five times that of white Americans, and a much higher mortality rate as well. This highlights the racial inequality in the US. The recent death of an African American George Floyd and the massive protests that followed once again shows that the systemic racial discrimination in the US has reached a point where racial and ethnic minorities “can’t breathe”. It calls for an urgent solution.
False: The Chinese government’s brutal crackdown on Muslims is a human rights violation not seen since World War II.
◆One of China’s five ethnic minority autonomous regions, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is home to 25 million people of different ethnic groups who live and work in harmony. Among them, ten ethnic groups, including Uyghur and Hui, consist mainly of Muslims. The Muslim population has been growing steadily, accounting for nearly 60% of the total local population.
◆Under a system of ethnic regional autonomy, China treats all ethnic groups equally and pursues prosperity and development for people of all ethnicities. It ensures that ethnic autonomous areas exercise the power to self-govern in accordance with law, and protects the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic minorities. In Xinjiang, every chairperson of the People’s Congress, the autonomous regional government, and the CPPCC regional committee is from ethnic minority groups. Ethnic minorities take 64.2% of the seats in the 13th Xinjiang People’s Congress, and 46.7% of the seats in the 13th CPPCC Regional Committee of Xinjiang.
◆Xinjiang fully implements the policy of freedom of religious belief. The freedom of religious belief of all people, regardless of their ethnicity, is fully protected in accordance with law. Believers and non-believers enjoy the same political rights and economic, social and cultural rights.
◆On 25 May, George Floyd, an African-American, was killed in Minneapolis in a brutal assault by a white police officer. His death triggered massive demonstrations and protests across the country, throwing into sharp relief the public outcry and anger over the systemic racism long in existence in the country. The UN Human Rights Council held an urgent debate and adopted a resolution voicing strong condemnation and urging concrete measures from the US to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent.
False: The Chinese government uses COVID-19 to “wipe out” Muslims.
◆Thanks to the joint efforts of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, COVID-19 has been effectively contained in the region. As of 29 June, a total of 76 confirmed cases had been reported in Xinjiang, including 73 cured cases and three deaths. With no new confirmed cases for over 130 days, Xinjiang has resumed full normalcy in economic and social activity early on and is back on track for economic and social development.
◆On 9 December 2019, Shohrat Zakir, Chairman of the Government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, announced that all the trainees at the vocational education and training centers had completed their studies. There is no risk of cluster infections at these centers.
False: In media reports or social media posts about “missing persons”, overseas Uyghurs tell stories about their “families” and “friends” in Xinjiang who have “lost contact” or “gone missing”.
◆Xinjiang has never curtailed the freedom of travel of Uyghur people or people of any other ethnic groups. Nor is there any restriction on communication with relatives abroad.
◆It has been verified by the relevant authorities that the so-called “missing persons” mentioned by overseas East Turkistan elements are either living a normal life or simply non-existent.
In an ABC News (Australia) report, Azmat Omar, a Chinese citizen living in Australia, claimed that he had lost contact with his family members in Xinjiang, including his father, stepmother, three brothers, two sisters and over 20 nephews. It later became clear that all his family members in China are living normal lives and enjoy full personal freedoms.
During a UN Human Rights Council session in February 2020, the World Uyghur Congress put up photos of the so-called “Uyghurs persecuted by the Chinese government” in the square with the Broken Chair in front of the Palace of Nations in Geneva. The photos have proved to be fake. Separatist groups got hold of the pictures and personal information of Uyghur officials and residents living normal lives in Xinjiang and misrepresented them to spread rumors.
False: China uses denial of passport renewal as a weapon to force overseas Uyghurs to return to China, where they face extrajudicial detention.
◆In China, a country governed by the rule of law, the citizens’ personal freedom and right to leave and enter the country are protected by law. Chinese diplomatic missions abroad protect the lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese, including ethnic minorities from Xinjiang, in accordance with laws and regulations including the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Passport Law of the People’s Republic of China. Anyone who holds the Chinese nationality, recognizes oneself as a Chinese national, and has not violated Chinese laws and regulations can apply to the Chinese embassy or consulate in the place of residence for passport renewal or re-issuance.
◆Xinjiang follows a fact- and law-based approach in managing exit and entry affairs and cracking down on crimes of violence and terrorism and activities of religious extremism. Most applications for passport renewal or re-issuance from Xinjiang natives have been received and approved by Chinese embassies or consulates. The very few who have their applications rejected are suspected of involvement in terrorist activities in violation of Chinese laws and regulations.
False: The research paper titled The Karakax List:
Dissecting the Anatomy of Beijing’s Internment Drive in Xinjiang
◆The so-called research paper was produced by Adrian Zenz, a key figure in the so-called Xinjiang’s Internment Camps Research Group set up and controlled by US intelligence agencies. The paper is based on a name list of “students sent to re-education who are family members of those who went abroad and have not returned.” The list itself was cooked up by ETIM members from inside and outside China.
◆The majority of the 311 people on the list live in Bostan Street in Moyu (Karakax) County. They live and work just like most other people do, and have never received vocational education and training. Only a very small number of those on the list have been sent to vocational education and training in accordance with the law for being influenced by religious extremism and committing minor crimes. Only 19 out of the 311 people have relatives abroad, but none of them have received the vocational education and training.
False: 30 relatives of Rebiya Kadeer have been detained without trialTrue:
◆No one from Rebiya Kadeer’s family has been implicated. All her relatives live and enjoy freedom in Xinjiang. They want her to stop spreading lies and disturbing their peace.
False: Family members of Furqat Jawdat, Arapat Arkin, Zumrat Dawut and other so-called “activists” have been “harassed, imprisoned or arbitrarily detained.”
◆Both Furqat Jawdat and Arapat Arkin are members of the World Uyghur Congress, an organization notorious for its violent, terrorist and separatist agenda. They make a living by fabricating stories and splitting their motherland. Their relatives, who are leading a normal life in Xinjiang, feel ashamed of having people like them in the family.
◆Furqat Jawdat’s mother is living a normal life in Xinjiang and has regular contact with him.
◆Arapat Arkin’s father was sentenced for taking part in violent and terrorist activities, but his mother and younger brother and sister are all living a normal life. None of them have been taken into custody. His mother has repeatedly urged him not to follow his father’s path, “Your father did harm to our society. He is being punished for his wrongdoing. He is very sorry for what he has done. So please stop telling lies and leave the World Uyghur Congress before it’s too late.”
◆Regarding the claim that “Dawut’s elderly father, who had been detained and interrogated multiple times by the local authorities in Xinjiang, recently passed away under unknown circumstances”, here is what really happened: Dawut’s father had been living with his children all these years, without ever being “interrogated” or “detained”. Suffering from a serious heart condition for many years, the octogenarian passed away in hospital in October 2019 after all medical treatment had failed. During his last days in hospital, the old man was attended by Dawut’s older brothers and other relatives who stayed by his bedside.
False: Mutallip Nurmamat died nine days after his release from an internment camp. Prominent Uyghur writer Nurmamat Tohti died in an internment camp. Sayragul Sawutbay saw people tortured in a detention camp before fleeing China. Uyghur musician and poet Abdurehim Heyit was sentenced to eight years in prison and died in the second year of imprisonment.
◆Mutallip Nurmamat never studied in a vocational education and training center. In December 2018, he died from acute alcohol poisoning, alcoholic encephalopathy, respiratory failure and acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage triggered by alcohol abuse.
◆Nurmamat Tohti never studied in a vocational education and training center. He had had coronary artery disease for over 20 years and spent most of his time receiving treatment in hospital or recuperating at home. On 31 May 2019, after suffering an acute myocardial infarction at home, he was taken to hospital but passed away despite emergency rescue efforts.
◆Sayragul Sawutbay is suspected of fraud. To flee justice, she crossed the border illegally into Kazakhstan. She never stayed in any vocational education and training center in China, and was never detained before her illegal escape. Her words about seeing people tortured cannot be true.
◆Abdurehim Heyit, arrested on suspicion of endangering national security, is in good health. On 10 February 2019, Heyit said in a published video, “I am under investigation for suspected violations of law. I am in very good health, and I have never been abused.”
False: A comic book titled What has happened to me: A testimony of a Uyghur woman recounts the experiences of Mihrigul Tursun, a Uyghur woman who allegedly escaped a vocational education and training center. She claimed to have seen the death of nine women while in custody, and that her younger brother was abused to death in a vocational education and training center.
◆Mihrigul Tursun, an ethnic Uyghur, used to live in Qiemo County of Bayingol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang. She was detained for 20 days in April 2017 by the Public Security Bureau of Qiemo County over suspicion of inciting national enmity and discrimination. In 2018, she voluntarily relinquished her Chinese citizenship and left China with an Egyptian passport. She had never been imprisoned in China, nor had she studied in any vocational education and training center.
◆Akbar Tursun, her younger brother, said publicly, “My sister Mihrigul is full of lies. She not only said I am dead, but also lied about seeing others die.”