Sunday, April 05, 2020

The U.N. And China: Imperfect Together


Much is unknown about SARS-Co V-2, the virus which causes the disease of Covid-19, and much of that is about its origin. There is little or no doubt, however, that it did originate in mainland China, the land of President for life Xi Jingping, the ultimate surveillance state, and "re-education camps," which look strikingly similar to concentration camps (as they likely would be called in any other country). Theories abound and one

study, conducted by the South China University of Technology, concluded that the coronavirus “probably” originated in the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which is just 280 meters away from the Hunan Seafood Market. The study mentioned that bats linked to coronavirus once attacked a researcher, who had to be self-quarantined because “blood of a bat shot on his skin.” The paper was later removed from ResearchGate, a commercial social-networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers. Thus far, no scientists have confirmed or refuted the paper’s findings. 

Many of these accusations may be groundless, but nobody can deny that lab safety is a major concern in China. A safety breach at a Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention lab is believed to have caused four suspected SARS cases, including one death, in Beijing in 2004. A similar accident caused 65 lab workers of Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute to be infected with brucellosis in December 2019. In January 2020, a renowned Chinese scientist, Li Ning, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for selling experimental animals to local markets.





Combined with a routine policy of censorship and of the imprisonment of dissenters in Communist- uh, er, mainland- China, it seems a particularly unusual time for the nation to be appointed

to a United Nations Human Rights Council panel where it will play a key role in picking the world body’s human rights investigators — including global monitors on freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention — in a move that has sparked protest by international human rights activists.

“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva that closely monitors the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, and a leader in speaking out at the UN for victims in China.

“It’s absurd and immoral for the UN to allow China’s oppressive government a key role in selecting officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide,” said Neuer.

China’s appointment to the UNHRC’s influential Consultative Group, comprised of only five nations, was announced in a letter submitted to the UNHRC on Wednesday by Oman on behalf of the Asian Group, and confirmed by a notice on the website of the UN human rights office.

By joining the UNHRC panel, China will be able to influence the selection of at least 17 UN human rights mandate-holders over the next year, known as special procedures, who investigate, monitor, and publicly report on either specific country situations, or on thematic issues in all parts of the world, such as freedom of speech and religion.

China will help vet candidates for the critical UN human rights posts — serving as Chair of the interview processes for at least five of the mandates — and help decide whom to recommend for appointment. In most cases, the council president appoints the experts selected by the 5-nation panel.

The appointment of China comes despite the fact that the government in Beijing is widely considered to commit gross and systematic violations of human rights affecting its 1.3 billion people.

“It’s absurd for the UN to allow the Chinese regime, which as a matter of policy and practice arbitrarily detains human right defenders like Zhang Baocheng and Wang Binzhang, to help nominate the next two members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” said Neuer.

“Likewise, at a time when China has forcibly disappeared citizens who express dissent like the executive Ren Zhiqiang, who called Xi a ‘clown’ over coronavirus response — as well as  upwards of a 1 million Muslim Uyghur and minority group members — it is inconceivable that China would be allowed to influence the selection of the next member of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances,” Neuer added.

“And how can China be involved in choosing the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, when the regime routinely imposes draconian censorship, and seeks to shut down dissenting voices?” asked Neuer.

“Finally, as the world is suffering from the deadly coronavirus pandemic that spread like wildfire in Wuhan while China silenced doctors, journalists and other citizens who tried to sound the alarm, by what logic can the Beijing regime be involved in choosing the UN’s next global monitor on the right to health?”

“This is absurd, and China’s appointment threatens to undermine the credibility of the UN’s highest human rights body—which already counts Venezuela, Pakistan, Eritrea and Qatar among its elected members—and is liable to cast a shadow upon the United Nations as a whole.”

Mainland China is not a threat merely to Hong Kong residents, Uighurs, and others who would question the regime or merely exist under its influence. It should be understood- and treated- as one of the major threats to the world, the most dangerous country since mid-twentieth century Germany.  It was obvious before this coronavirus outbreak, is more obvious now, and the United Nations is not helping.








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