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China on human rights abuses in US: ‘Different countries honor rights in different ways’

Published time: February 28, 2014 17:05
U.S. Army Military Police escort a detainee to his cell during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray in Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in this file photograph taken January 11, 2002 and released January 18, 2002. (Reuters)

The reality is that human rights are being followed in different ways, or are not implemented in certain ways, according to different circumstances and priorities of nation states, including in America, Andrew Leung, an expert on China, told RT.

China has recently released a damning report on the state of human rights in the US. It singles out the use of drones and prisoners’ rights among the spots blemishing America’s record.

RT: China's report comes a day after Washington did the same thing. Is this some sort of diplomatic vengeance?

Andrew Leung: The US has been issuing reports on human rights conditions around the world for a very long time. I think that China is beginning to feel that human rights, while a universal value, are in fact honored by different governments according to their own national priorities and circumstances. So even in America human rights of personal privacy, for example, of freedom, may be subordinated to reasons of national security. The case of Snowden, for example, is well known. And of course personal freedom and privacy are also subjected to national strategies as in a case of a so-called extradition measures in Guantanamo Bay where human rights apparently does not count. So different countries honor human rights in a different fashion.

Now as far as China is concerned, like in many developing countries human rights are not [well developed] , of course, China is not a paragon of human rights. But there are many areas where the countries are [deficient] for sure, especially freedom of speech behind of any restrictions or repressions to be seen in the context of China’s own internal political circumstances, including the need to maintain also stability. But the right to a higher standard of living is also a human right and there China has been doing very well. It has lifted over 500 million people out of poverty in just about three or four decades. Never have so many people been lifted out of poverty in such a short time.

I think that the American report also criticizes human rights in Hong Kong, but of course Hong Kong has been held up as a place where the rule of law and personal freedoms are highly regarded. I think the finger is pointing to the method of election of the chief executive promised by Beijing and in fact enshrined in Hong Kong’s basic law, Hong Kong’s constitution. The election to take place by 2017 but then the method of election of course has to comply with the requirements under the basic law and not just copy any Western model. And this is where the debate is all about. I think that human rights must be seen in a context of the circumstances and particular laws or constitutions of different countries and different places.

RT: Are these reports changing the status quo, or are they just stating the obvious with no intention of really making a difference?

AL: I think that these reports impact to the perceptions of different countries. For example, these reports were issued not only on China but on countries in Africa, on the developing world and America is trying to use this to project certain values as universal, but in fact as I was saying the realities that human rights are being followed in different ways or are not implemented in certain ways according to different circumstances and priorities including in America.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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