China’s official news agency on Jan. 21 criticized the U.S. government shutdown, claiming that it exposed “chronic flaws” in the U.S. political system.
China has often extolled its political and economic system as a potential alternative to the U.S. free-market republic, but serious human rights abuses in China are an ever-present disqualifying challenge to that proposition.
China’s unprecedented rise over the past several decades has led the Chinese people to demand a greater stake in the political process. President Xi Jinping recognizes that trend and has answered it by imposing what Maya Wang, Human Rights Watch’s Hong Kong-based researcher, calls the worst repression in China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
On Jan. 22, the day after China publicly critiqued the U.S. system, The New York Times published an article about the sudden disappearance of Hong Kong-based book publisher Gui Minhai, who holds Swedish citizenship and publishes books that criticize the leadership of China’s Communist Party.
This is not the first time that Minhai has disappeared. In 2015, he was one of five Hong Kong publishers who disappeared, only to resurface later in the People’s Republic of China in police custody.
The story of Minhai’s disappearance is not uncommon in China. In the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016” published by the State Department, “disappearance” is just one in a wide range of jarring human rights violations committed by Beijing.
The list also includes:
- Arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life, such as the mysterious deaths of political dissenters.
- Executions without due process.
- Illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities and torture.
Regarding Chinese human rights violations, The Heritage Foundation has kept a particularly close watch on China’s “two-child policy,” which was implemented in 2016 to alleviate the strains brought about by its “one-child policy.”
Studies suggest that the changes from the two-child policy are dubious, and that China’s history has already been written by the one-child policy, which promulgated an era of forced abortion, forced sterilization, forced marriage, preference for male babies, and human trafficking.
China may look to the two-child policy as a solution, but would be better served by liberalizing its economy rather than looking to population control as the key to unleashing it economic potential.
China paints itself as a progressive state, but its treatment of its ethnic minorities—as illustrated by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s 2017 annual report—suggests it is closer to an Orwellian one.
Consider the case of the Uyghur Muslims who reside in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It’s a region subjected to the implementation of “convenience police stations” for enhanced surveillance, mass “anti-terrorism” rallies to demonstrate the party’s firm control in Xinjiang, and forced DNA collections of the Uyghur population.
China may present itself as an alternative to the U.S. model, but it is one of oppression, not progress.
However much we as Americans might have bemoaned the government shutdown, which lasted all of two days, life in America went on.
The shutdown was actually the byproduct of the system of checks and balances that keeps us free. Seen in this light, a couple of days or even a couple of weeks of inconvenience pale in comparison.
Given the abuses that China’s communist government imposes on its people, ours is a system the Chinese would do well to emulate.