China blasts human rights report

BEIJING • China has blasted a report by non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) that accuses Beijing of constructing a surveillance state at home while seeking to silence critics abroad.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang yesterday said he had not read the report, but that such documents routinely "turned a blind eye on facts and confused right and wrong with no objectivity at all". Mr Geng said the Chinese people had the final say on the state of human rights in the country.

In recent years, Beijing has been accused of seeking complete control over students and other Chinese living abroad, as well as influencing media and politicians in countries such as Australia and the United States. China has allegedly locked up more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in camps.

On Tuesday, the head of HRW, Mr Kenneth Roth, accused China of carrying out "the most intense attack on the global system for enforcing human rights since that system began to emerge in the mid-20th century".

Mr Roth held a news conference at the UN Correspondents Association in New York after being denied entry to Hong Kong, where he had been scheduled to release the rights group's annual report.

To avoid a global backlash against surveillance, Internet censorship and oppression at home, Beijing is trying to undermine international institutions designed to protect human rights, Mr Roth said.

While other governments also commit serious human rights violations, "no other government flexes its political muscles with such vigour and determination to undermine the international human rights standards and institutions that could hold it to account", he added.

Mr Roth also referred to what he called severe challenges to Hong Kong's limited freedoms in the "one country, two systems" framework.

A Hong Kong government spokesman yesterday said in response that foreign organisations "should not interfere in any form" in Hong Kong's internal affairs.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline 'China blasts human rights report'. Print Edition | Subscribe