China calls its rights record best in history as UN rights chief adds to growing criticisms

The United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

(, Feb27’21) – The United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said Feb 26 that China was restricting basic civil and political freedoms in the name of national security and Covid-19 measures, adding to a wave of criticism of the country’s rights record, reported Reuters. Expressing defiance and rejecting the criticisms, China has called those criticisms unwarranted, with its Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin claiming his country’s human rights situation was at its best in history, reported China’s official Feb 27.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Bachelet has said, “Activists, lawyers and human rights defenders – as well as some foreign nationals – face arbitrary criminal charges, detention or unfair trials.”

She has said more than 600 people in Hong Kong were being investigated for taking part in protests, some under the new national security law imposed by mainland China. 

Referring to reports about “arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, sexual violence and forced labour” in Xinjiang, she has called for a thorough and independent assessment of the situation.

Wang has expressed angry defiance at the barrage of criticisms his government had come under both at the Council and elsewhere in recent times. “We firmly oppose the practice of several countries and institutions to make and spread lies in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong to smear China in negligence of the truth,” the official quoted him as saying at a daily press briefing. He has accused Britain, EU, Germany, the United States and Canada of having recently abused the UNHRC platform to launch what he has called “groundless accusations” on China.

Wang has said that China regarded the rights to subsistence and development as primary and basic human rights, claiming “remarkable progress” in this regard.

“China’s human rights situation is at its historical best, a fact that is recognized by all those without bias,” Wang has maintained.

Rejecting reports about genocide om Xinjiang, another Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, had earlier said Feb 23 that China would welcome the UN human rights chief to visit the region.

China made similar statements for previous UN human rights chiefs too, without result.

Louise Arbour was the last UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit China, in Sep 2005, noted Reuters Feb 27.


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