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East Asia

China’s BRI: A Brutal Record of Injustices

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Authors: Amit Kumar and Katrina Sietina*

China is dancing to Xi Jinping’s rhythm of becoming a global powerhouse. It is determined to attain its goal, no matter what it takes. Xi’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) has been under the spotlight for various reasons, with human rights issues being the most neglected. But all that glitz and glam is not gold; at the heart of this colossal undertaking comes a significant amount of human cost. The bright side of BRI is infrastructural development and job creation, and the ugly side is a debt trap and grave human rights violations, which treat local people involved in this project as contemporary slaves. It is in stark contradiction to Confucianism’s idea of moderation and five virtues in approach.

The western understanding and adaption of human rights ideals differ from China. In the case of China, Alistair MacIntyre claims that socially established norms impact human rights rhetoric. In contrast to Locke, China’s human rights emphasise people’s socioeconomic advantages above civil-political rights. Confucianism and the rights of collective people above individuals have shaped the Chinese understanding of human rights.  Nevertheless, China is a signatory to the UDHR and played an essential role in writing it.  That is, China’s founding fathers acknowledge that certain aspects of human rights transcend societies and apply to all people.

The glory days of the Tributary System and the Century of Humiliation have left an indelible impact on the Chinese mental psyche, and their history is soaked in it. Chinese human rights violations against native employees are rising in nations that have embraced the BRI project. It is seen to be far worse than what Europeans did during colonial times. From Capital punishment within the Great Walls, internet censorship, concentration camps in  Xinjiang to Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Inner Mongolia, Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia, the list goes on and on. The desire for dominance, on the other hand, takes precedence over all else. As a result, China looks to have no respect for fundamental human rights, and since they have suffered for a century, China appears to be taking delight in guilt abroad.

Within China’s Great Walls

The COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, which killed over 4,600 people (underestimated figure) and allowed citizens no freedom of expression, exemplifies China’s blatant human rights violations in recent years. While the National Security Law resulted in political arrests and public upheaval across Hong Kong, it also stifled free speech via intimidation, harassment, and arrests. To protect assets and investments under BRI in the Xinjiang region, the CCP’s covert human rights violations of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Mongolia and limited access to the territories have exacerbated human rights abuses. Chinese security authorities have allegedly contacted religious and ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang for information on relatives who live overseas. Many have been requested to spy on community members who speak out against human rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang. The practice of torturing relatives can be traced back to Chinese emperors.

The government has put down protests across the country and worldwide that appear to undermine the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dominance. The National Security Law’s violation of human rights in Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region and Xinjiang Concentration camps were the highlights of China’s human rights abuses in 2020. The arrests of opposition members, activists, and students and assault on pro-democracy demonstrations revealed a more profound knowledge of human rights limited to hegemonic power accumulation in the world.

Africa & Latin America

China is concealing terrible human rights crimes in Africa via financial aid and promises of economic prosperity. Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Kenya are among the African nations that have joined the belt and road programme. China is expanding military outposts in South Africa, increasing the number of Chinese mining firms burdening countries with debt, and increasing corruption in the area through infrastructure projects. In the context of the BRI, this has resulted in the government and the people being at odds.

According to a recent study by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, China’s 102 enterprises operating in Africa have 679 claims of human rights violations, and this number is growing exponentially. Racism in the workplace against Kenyans is yet another example of human rights violations in Kenya. Along with the Chinese debt, Chinese authorities’ claims of discrimination and maltreatment of local Africans have contributed to the pressure. China’s BRI has resulted in the most documented human rights breaches of high degree in Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zimbabwe. Violations of racial discrimination, prejudice, a severe lack of worker rights, suboptimal salaries, ill-treatment, countless incidents of physical brutality in Sierra Leone and Zambia, and the list goes on. It has done more harm than good to African and Latin American societies and the social fabric. There is a genuine worry that China will etch a decade or two of humiliation into their history.

The Chinese violation of human rights does not end with individuals; in Latin America, human rights abuses are often coupled with environmental violations. In 2018, 20 human rights organisations pointed to human rights violations in Latin America as a pattern of basic human rights offences in China and Chinese corporations’ lack of responsibility. Three complaints were filed by Latin American civil society organisations alleging other human rights abuses connected to Chinese infrastructure projects. All mining, hydroelectric, and infrastructure projects in the indigenous areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and other nations violated human rights in the region.

The Middle East & South East Asia

China’s human rights violations have spread throughout the globe, with concentration camps used to imprison and torture the Uyghur ethnic and religious minorities. Wu Huan, who had left China and arrived in Dubai, was apprehended by airport officials and taken to Chinese-run prison facilities in Dubai, where he was tortured. Abudujilili Supi was arrested in Dubai earlier this year and deported to China with other Uyghurs. The Chinese government is laying the groundwork in the Middle East with a $36 billion investment in the UAE, demonstrating its hegemonic might and repression of minorities.

China has grown in power over the last eight years, but this growth has been accompanied by pressuring nations to mask its human rights crimes. China’s bullying extends to private institutions, such as the NBA, whose broadcasting deals were halted when one team’s manager tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters. The financial trap that China has created and the economic implications for Australia and anyone who speak out against its human rights violations demonstrate China’s bullying conduct. China has shown apathy and turned blind about human rights by neglecting to condemn human rights violations in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Syria, Iran, and other countries.

Despite serious human rights offences in Kabul, China’s backing for the Taliban demonstrates China’s poor human rights knowledge and lack of regional leadership characteristics. Despite human rights atrocities in Kabul, China is willing to legitimise the Taliban to conceal its torture in Xinjiang. China has a narrow worldview and a skewed notion of human rights that serves only China’s economic interests while exploiting people all over the globe.

Conclusion

China’s concept of human rights does not meddle in domestic politics and its foreign policy, and it believes in suppressing internal and global critics of its human rights violations. China has criticised and rejected the Western view of human rights as a propaganda tool for gaining hegemonic control through discourse dominance. However, in the twenty-first century, China’s knowledge and impact on human rights discourse is Confucianist propaganda aimed at promoting China’s interest in the world and establishing hegemony.

China’s teachings and interpretations of human rights are meaningless in a country that denies its citizens and human rights organisations fundamental freedoms of speech throughout the globe. Silencing and defamation do not mask China’s human rights crimes; instead, they reflect an aspiring superpower’s fear of the world. China’s concept of human rights, which it symbolises across the globe, is built on false promises of the common good. It also does not follow Confucianism, which is the core of China’s Human Rights concept. There is a significant contrast between what China says and what China does.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity.” Because of China’s ambiguous concept of human rights, the country’s rising global dominance is concerning. China’s Confucianism propaganda, which violates human rights in mainland China and spreads worldwide, must be condemned. Under its assertive foreign policy, Xi’s actions in the past few years show that he wants to yoke the world under its arrogant global ambition. An ambition that infringes the fundamental rights of many and is devoid of moral, ethical, and human values.

*Katrina Sietina is the Co-founder of Next Generation Embassy and Interns at UN Office for WFWPI as a Human Rights Trainee in Geneva. She Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences focussing on European Studies.

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East Asia

U.S.- China Strategic Competition in The East Asia

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East Asia has been the most dynamic region where development has been internationally recognized. The regional politics of the region has developed a paradox that has flamed up the economic environment of the region. The trends have shown the increased intensifying security issues along with the strategic completion that has spread the security and economic tensions across the East Asian Region. In a global circle, China is known as the revisionist state. The historical manners suggest the reclaim of East Asia by the Chinese. This claim has intensified the relations between the US and China in East Asian Region.  The main challenge for China is to shift the US intervention from the East Asian region for the balanced equation at the strategic level. This might provoke the US and its allies in East Asia such as Japan that will help the US to jeopardize the Chinese rule from the region. The challenge for the US and its allies in the East Asian Region is more complicated because of the economic stability of China at the International Level. This might be a proxy war for both the superpowers in the East Asian region where the conflict may rise compromising the strategic stability of the region. The strategic location of the US lies in the actual form of ability and project power over great sustainable intervals. The strategic behavior increases the policies and shapes the allies.

One prevalent belief in the United States about China’s long-term policy goals in Asia is that Beijing aspires to be the regional hegemon and wants to restore a Sino-centric order in the region.

First, Beijing favors unipolar ties at both the global and regional levels and believes that with ongoing economic growth, this trend will continue intra-regional political consultation in Asia, influence on regional affairs is going to be more diversified and more evenly distributed. Secondly, although China expects some relative increase in its influence in Asia, it understands that thanks to the boundaries of its hard power and particularly its soft power, China can never achieve a grip cherish its role within the ancient past or to the U.S. role within the region at the present.

Beijing’s perspective:

From Beijing’s perspective, the US is an East Asia power, although not an Asian power, and its political, economic, and security interests within the region are deep-rooted, as are its commitments to regional stability and prosperity. Beijing has always welcomed a constructive U.S. role in regional affairs. At the identical time, however, Beijing also feels uneasy with certain aspects of U.S. policy. As a superpower, The US has been too dominant and intrusive in managing regional affairs. It fails to pay due regard to the voices of other regional players and sometimes gets too involved within the internal affairs of other states, lacking an understanding of their culture, history, and values.

The US and European aspects towards the South China Sea and East Asia should involve long-term perspectives of engaging ASEAN states. Such impacts will create room for the US to tackle China in the East Asian region. The development of any comprehensive strategic security policy is the need of the hour that assures one’s interest in the region. Both the states perceive a threat from each other and try to further advance their capabilities for the sake of safety and security. The US is not in a position to deal with the other power far away from its homeland, sustaining its military and protecting allies. Aggressive behavior in strategic competition can lead to unwanted results. The US would have to accept the strategic realities of China to normalize the relations. China on the other hand should rethink its policies in East Asia and Indo Pacific. However, as yet, deterrence has played its part by keeping states from a large-scale action. States running in the race of acquiring arms conventionally due to uprising strategic competitions are worsening any likely condition of conflict.

Key points for US:

In terms of identifying specific actions for a U.S. strategy for competing strategically with China in East Asia, a key element would be to possess a transparent understanding of which actions are intended to support which U.S. goals, and to take care of an alignment of actions with policy goals. Cost-imposing actions are actions intended to impose political/reputational, institutional, economic, or other costs on China for conducting certain activities within the East Asian Region, with the aim of persuading China to prevent or reverse those activities. Such cost-imposing actions need not be limited to the East Asian Region only. 

Conclusion:

The development of any comprehensive strategic security policy is the need of the hour that should involve joint military maritime exercises. The US and China have set their limits in coordinating military to military joint cooperation due to their desired interests and competition. Both the states perceive a threat from each other and try to further advance their capabilities for the sake of safety and security.  

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East Asia

Summit for Democracy Attempts to Turn Multicolor Modern World into Black and White Divisions

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One of the most important takeaways from the recent sixth plenary session of 19th CPC Central Committee is that Beijing flatly rejects Westernization as the path to modernize the Chinese society and the national economy. Instead, as it was underscored in the plenary Communiqué, the country will continue to stick to “socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” The leadership will preserve and further develop the system that served the people so well over last more than 70 years.

This statement did not come as a surprise to numerous China watchers all over the world. In fact, the critical choice between socialism and Western-type liberalism was not made in November of 2021, but decades ago.

One can argue that the outcomes of the sixth plenary session are yet another manifestation of a more general global trend: The world has been and will continue to be very diverse in terms of political systems, social models and economic patterns of individual nation states. Moreover, the odds are that this diversity will increase further literally in front of our eyes. Instead of the “end of history,” we will observe more intense multifaceted competition between different types of social development.

One way to react to this emerging reality is to accept it as a positive trend that enhances the overall stability of the global social system. The more diverse and complex the system is, the more resistant it is to various shocks and disturbances. To make a rough analogy with biology, a natural forest, which is a very diverse and complex ecosystem, is much more resistant to whims of the weather and natural disasters than a man-cultivated monocultural field. Accepting the trend, we should focus on how to manage competition within the increasingly diverse and complex world so that this competition will ultimately benefit all of us.

The other way to deal with this reality would be to start fighting against social, political and economic diversity by trying to advance one single model over all others. This is exactly what the Joe Biden administration is committed to doing by launching an ideological crusade against China, Russia and other nations that dare to deviate from the fundamentals of the Western development model. To make its case, the White House has announced a virtual Summit for Democracy to be hosted by the US on December 9–10 with the goal “to renew democracy at home and confront autocracies abroad.”

This vision reduces the multi-color palette of the modern world to a minimalist black and white graphics of a global fight between “democracies” and “autocracies.” It divides the international system into “us” and “them,” into “good” and “bad,” into “legitimate” and “illegitimate.” Such a reductionist system, if constructed, cannot be stable and shock-resistant by definition: Any major international crisis or a regional conflict could spark high risks of implosion.

It goes without saying that the nations of the world should firmly oppose corruption, abuses of power by state authorities and gross violations of human rights. If the goal of the Summit for Democracy were to confront these evils on a global scale, there would be no need to make the event exclusive by inviting mostly US friends and allies. If the goal is to advertise the US political, social and economic model, Washington should probably delay the summit and put its house in order first. If the goal is to isolate Beijing and Moscow in the world of politics, this is not likely to work well for the US.

Nations of the world have a right and even a duty to experiment with their political and social development paths. This experimenting contributes to the overall social experience of the humankind. Only history is in a position to judge what models turn out to be efficient, productive and fair and what models will find their place at the dump of human delusions. And history has a lot of means at its disposal to punish leaders, who believe that they possess a “one size fits all” model, which could successfully replace the existing diversity with an imposed universalism.

From our partner RIAC

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East Asia

The Chinese diplomatic force in the IAEA to confront Western leadership

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At the level of international relations, through China’s presence in all the relevant international organizations, and its membership in all of the United Nations organizations, specifically in the International Atomic Energy Agency “IAEA”, China aims to play the role of the (international balancer),  in light of its quest to maintain a certain level of competition with the United States of America politically and economically, this is in line with its desires to constantly play the role of the pole calling for (multipolarity and multilateral international pluralism through the Chinese political speeches of Chinese President “Xi Jinping”), in order to oppose American hegemony over the world and Washington’s policies to maintain its position as a single pole in the international community. China’s increase in its foreign investments, in order to enhance its economic hegemony over the world through its political and diplomatic tools with countries that have equal economic power with it in a number of (trade, scientific and technological issues, in addition to military and intelligence tools, as a reference for China’s new foreign political center).

  We note that the patterns of Chinese foreign policy is (the pattern of dependence, which is based on the high level of foreign participation in all current global issues), to restrict the attempts of the United States of America to pass its decisions internationally, and therefore China is trying to enter the membership of all international organizations so that China’s foreign policies remain more comprehensive, broader and more effective in the global change, and to change all directions of these issues and control them in the United States, and this is one of its new political tools that serve its global expansion through the (Chinese Belt and Road Initiative).

   In the same context, China focuses its external and competitive strength on its presence in effective international organizations, and rapprochement with the European Union, especially (France, Germany), despite not denying their relations with Washington, because of their strong influence in the global economy.  In addition to China’s reliance on the plan of foreign and foreign investments in countries that influence American influence through the Belt and Road projects, as well as China’s resort to the import policy of many resources necessary to develop its economic capabilities from certain European countries to open influential relations with them, leading to (the Chinese strategy to obtain  political support through the policies of alliances, consulates, representations, and its membership of international organizations), with the aim of influencing countries’ policies economically to pass important international decisions regarding the US challenge to China, such as: (the Iranian nuclear file, North Korea, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, etc.), to increase with this  The level of external penetration of China economically and politically).

    China is mainly aiming to increase its membership in international organizations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to (create a new balance of power and get rid of unipolarity restrictions through the medium powers and small states that the international system prevails with real pluralism, instead of the current state of American unipolarity).

   In my personal opinion, the countries of the Middle East may find in the rise of China and Russia, and perhaps other international powers to re-compete the United States,  as a (real opportunity to advance the effects of the pluralism of the international system at the regional level, and this would create more space for movement and opposition or bargaining and flexibility of movement for all to confront the policies of American hegemony, according to Chinese planning with Russia), and this also works to alleviate those restrictions and American dictates, and perhaps the sanctions and pressures it imposes on opponents of its approach internationally.

  The strategy of competition between China and the United States has become China’s long-term strategy, which is based on (the necessity of a heavy Chinese presence in all international organizations and forums, which allows China to communicate with various global powers and balance its relations with them compared to Washington), as well as diversifying the People’s Republic of China for its relations and distribution of its power among the competing countries, which allows China to show wide options on all important issues, and the most dangerous is that this Chinese presence, which (allows Beijing to prejudice the foundations of its relationship with the United States of America and the other various powers around the world).

  China and Russia also aim to form an alliance into all international and regional organizations to change the current provocative approach of the American policies in their confrontation, especially those related to mobilization policies and American alliances against them around the world. The Chinese alliance with Russia was so clear with the (Russian Foreign Minister “Sergey Lavrov’s visit” to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, while on the other hand, both Kuwait and Qatar have received a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the CPC Central Committee “Yang Jiechi”).

    On the other hand, China is among the Security Council countries that have the largest number of (Chinese peacekeeping forces around the world), and China is at the forefront of the (most contributing countries to the international peacekeeping budget, in addition to sending naval fleets to carry out maritime guard missions according to according to the UN Security Council resolutions), and therefore China may play an important role in establishing security in many countries in the world, and this is perhaps what China plans to ensure its use, in the event of a decline in American interest in the security of many regions in the world, within the framework of (the strategy of pressure of the American expenditures, retreat and withdrawal from many places around the world and devote its concern to the American interior issues and its worsening economic crises).

  The point is worthy to be considered here, is the report issued in July 2021 by the (International Atomic Energy Agency), entitled “Nuclear reactors around the world”, in which he analyzed China’s plan to (establish the dream of nuclear sovereignty around the world by starting to build and establish about 11 reactors). There are other Chinese nuclear reactors under construction, as well as the (new Chinese planning to build other 29 nuclear reactors), while the International Atomic Energy Agency’s work report on the other hand indicated that the known total number of reactors that are actually in service, other than those planned for construction, and other reactors under construction, is up to  About 50 Chinese nuclear reactors, a step that confirms that “China is clearly shifting towards nuclear energy in the production of electricity, and depends on it directly in its industrial renaissance during the coming period, especially as it is the number one country in the world that is expanding in the establishment of nuclear plants, followed by Russia, which plans to build other 20 new nuclear reactors, while it has 38 nuclear reactors in active service”. Some leaks indicate the presence of Chinese nuclear reactors, exercises and tests in the “Doklam Desert” region on the borders of “Xinjiang” province in northwest China.

   It also notes that, from the reality of the report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency “IAEA”, its confirmation regarding (Chinese planning to become the first country in the world in the production of nuclear energy during the next ten years, in return for the decline in the share of the United States of America in nuclear reactors, which continues to the continuous decrease with the exit of new American numbers of reactors annually), as the future plan of the United States of America does not include the establishment of new reactors, which indicates that (the expansion of this type of energy tends towards China and Russia during the coming period, and these countries will have accumulated experiences, enabling them to dominate and control this new nuclear industry in various countries of the world, and this is what is actually common happening in the region).  Knowing that its uses will be mainly peaceful and to serve the interests of peoples and countries, so we may witness the coming period intensifying the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in many files around the world to study them, inspect different regions and various other areas to ensure (their peaceful uses of nuclear energy in many development projects around the world).

   Hence, we almost understand (the importance of the Chinese presence and presence and its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency in the first place), given that it actually owns 50 nuclear reactors in service, and its contribution to the production of electricity and providing energy to one and a half billion citizens, and China also has new nuclear reactors under construction, so (China seeks to be near the International Atomic Energy Agency, to embarrass, restrict and limit the American influence on the one hand against Beijing’s allies, led by Iran and then North Korea. Therefore, China has developed a strategic plan in the coming years, which is based on the intensity of the Chinese international presence and passing its foreign policies and decisions with the help of its Russian ally internationally).

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