An avalanche of damning rhetoric and condemnation of China poured from the pages of a new report out last week. But will action follow?
by Ruth Ingram
Launching its update on China’s civil liberties’ landscape since 2016, the British Conservative Party Human Rights Commission’s investigations leave no stone unturned in rooting out a catalogue of monstrous crimes perpetrated by the CCP since its last review, “The Darkest Moment,” in 2016.
The latest revelations in “The Darkness Deepens” are grim. Its conclusions are supported by notable worthies, human rights defenders, dissidents, and exiles who are unanimous that China’s human rights record has not only “gone backwards” but has created a “virtual gulag” within its borders.
The breathtaking tally of human rights crimes detailed in the report, in which the arbitrary arrest and extra-legal detention of more than one million Uyghurs and increasing numbers of religious devotees of every persuasion, are just the horrifying tip of a creeping iceberg. Organ harvesting, mass sterilization, abduction of hundreds of thousands of Uyghur children rendered orphans by the disappearance of their parents, torture, the silencing of whistleblowers, Orwellian surveillance, televised confessions, and the muzzling of dissent, are high up in the roll call of atrocities committed under Xi Jinping, according to scores of witness accounts given over several months.
The report quotes Bitter Winter’s conclusion that in fact “all religions are persecuted in China,” and mentions the arrest of reporters sending information and picture to our magazine from China. It also mentions that the persecution of banned religious movements, such as Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God, has increased since the last Conservative Party report was published in 2016.
Moves by Beijing to muzzle dissent at world bodies designed to call out the very same atrocities it is being accused of, were a cause of “grave concern” said Baroness Hodgson, at the webinar launch of the report. “The darkness has deepened,” she reported soberly.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, former leader of Conservative Party, likened the pernicious influence of China across the globe to watching the tide rise. “It happens so slowly that you don’t begin to notice you are no longer standing on firm ground, and that actually you’re already in the water,” he said, adding, “People don’t realize, particularly in the West, that it is a criminal state.” He warned, “we’ve seen this over and over again when powerful people can no longer be challenged.”
Rahima Mahmut, a Uyghur exile and director of the World Uygur Congress in London, was disappointed by the passivity of democracies. “China has been emboldened by the inaction of the free world,” she regretted.
Benedict Rogers, co-author of the findings, cited the clampdowns against Hong Kong, Tibet, Mongolia, Uyghurs, Christians who are experiencing the worst oppression since the Cultural Revolution, members of all faiths and the Falun Gong movement as illustrative of the CCP’s growing impunity in the world.
In the report’s no-holds-barred criticism of the CCP and the atrocities it is perpetrating under its roof, the authors have called for action to bring China to account, and for a complete overhaul of the world’s relationship and dealings with the giant. Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao, who last year condemned the CCP as “an existential threat to humanity and the rules-based world order” said that since Xi Jinping took charge as Chinese president in 2012, he has “waged war on law.” He described the report as a “wake up call” for democratic nations everywhere,
The report indicates that there is still time to claw back lost ground. A raft of recommendations including establishing an international coalition of democracies for a global response to the human rights crisis is vital, it says. There should be targeted and diversified sanctions on individuals and businesses, human rights violators must be called out, and a UN rapporteur specifically to investigate human rights in China should be appointed. Exiles and dissidents should be supported in their courageous struggle and individual prisoners of conscience should not be forgotten, it stresses.
“The Darkness Deepens” is a damning indictment of a superpower that is flexing its muscles in the face of an opponent it has to fully size up. China watchers note its incremental encroachment with alarm, but many remain naive as to Beijing’s ambitions, as they close their eyes to the horrors while negotiating lucrative trade and business deals.
All eyes are on the determination later this year of a UK tribunal set up to investigate whether the CCP is guilty of genocide, and this week UK parliamentarians will vote in support or not of an amendment to the Trade Bill (not supported by the British government) which would ban trade with genocidal states. Given a ham-strung UN plagued by Russia and China’s veto powers, the amendment would also place the determination of genocide in the hands of domestic courts.
Ewelina U. Ochab, a human rights activist and commentator reflecting on the findings of the report in Forbes, welcomed them, but was cautiously wary of the hand wringing and rhetoric. “The report means nothing if the Conservative party, the party in government of the U.K., does not take the findings seriously and follow up on its recommendations or take other decisive steps. The coming days and weeks will show whether the UK’s governing party wakes up as the CCP continues to shake the world,” she warned.