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Opinion | Open Letter to UN Human Rights High Commissioner

By Philip Yeung, a university teacher



Your excellency,


I am saddened to learn that you have decided not to seek a second term as head of the Commission. Despite your denial, you have no doubt been stampeded into this decision by the venomous attacks that followed your six-day visit to Xinjiang.

Yours is an impossible task. Your fact-finding visit is doomed from the start. China's huffing critics would accept nothing short of outright condemnation. To them, it is a foregone conclusion. Visit or no visit, China is guilty as charged.

Your successor will suffer the same fate. The whole exercise is to humiliate China.

You made textbook preparations before the visit by speaking to Xinjiang critics and former detainees, followed by meetings with China's top leaders. With an open mind, you politely nudged China to review its counter-terrorism policies. This advice is the first international tacit acknowledgement that China had suffered horrendous attacks by religious fanatics.

China's actions are thus not ethnic "oppression" but unavoidable, proportionate "counter-terrorism".

China is reactive. It doesn't go around courting trouble, domestically or internationally. Nor does it sit back if hate crimes erupted.

China's critics claim to have "conducted rigorous studies" of the Xinjiang situation, and accuse it of "committing crimes against humanity."

How can these studies be "vigorous" without onsite visits and fact-checking on the ground? Anecdotal, hear-say statements by alleged victims or their relatives, and ideologically driven projections don't meet the threshold of proof.

To quote an American ad: Where is the beef?

They pull numbers from thin air—wild guestimates of populations in re-education centers range from several hundred thousand to two million. Without empirical verification, they fabricate numbers to shock the world, doubling down by pinning emotional terms like "genocide", "atrocities", "sham trials", "forced labor", systematic "forced sterilizations" of Uyghur women and even "population optimization" on China.

This is trial by "slander" in a kangaroo court of public opinion.

They let the emotive power of ugly words do the rest, expecting people to accept them at face value.

To see what damage words can do, just look at Esquel Textiles, the world's largest shirt-maker run by Harvard-educated Majorie Yang, an employer with a squeaky-clean social conscience. It was banned by the US for allegedly using "forced labor". Despite a subsequent high rating of 85+ by global audit firm ELEVATE that cleared it of being tainted by so-called "forced labor", it stays blacklisted, costing Uyghurs thousands of life-giving jobs. When it comes to China, the sheer frustration is this: you stay guilty even if proven innocent, unlike a court of law. And innocent victims of American lies and distortions be damned.

These holier-than-thou critics have left niggling questions unanswered.

First, were there street slaughters by religious fanatics in Xinjiang? After all, the West has tasted the ferocity of Islamic extremism.

This smells like China's own 911, triggering a counter-terror campaign.

The US reacted to its 911 by invading Iraq and killing a million innocent Iraqis on false pretenses. China didn't go on a killing spree. Instead, it rounded up suspects to de-radicalize them, giving them vocational training and then release them back into society—as acknowledged by its critics. Which is more humane: Quantanamo or Chinese rehab? The US killing machine or Chinese de-radicalization?

You cannot deny a sovereign state the right to act to protect its citizens against terrorists.

Second, do you understand China at all? Yes, China is communist. But its deep Confucian roots make it the most morally driven society on earth today. Everywhere you go, there are exhortations on how to treat people and the environment with respect. Even car-makers such as BYD are in on moral education, with slogans like "Build Your Dreams" blazoned on its vehicles. China is nothing if not moral.

By contrast, Britain has Boris, a leader described as a "moral vacuum", and the US has a morally bankrupt Trump, a woman's nightmare, under investigation for fraud and incitement to armed insurrection. China's moral universe is spacious and sunny.

Third, if China has genocidal intentions, why the long-standing nation-wide affirmative programs that give all ethnic minorities preferential treatment in education, housing, employment and reproductive freedom? How do you square its pro-ethnic policies with a government allegedly hell-bent on exterminating minorities?

Eager to share the largess of its economic success with its people, ethnic and religious minorities included, China is selling an inclusive society. Today's China is totally unrecognizable from its Cultural Revolution days. The world needs to unload its historical bias against a wholly reinvented China.

Fourth, is China the victim of ideological discrimination and racial bias? In some ways, China is a victim of its own success, with the West spooked by the speed and scale of its miracle.

Non-whites are not supposed to surpass Caucasians economically and technologically. Just ask poor Japan in the 1980's. Being communist makes China an easy target for America's red scare. Everything China does is suspect.

Fifth, did China act in good faith in Hong Kong? Riot leaders openly admit that for 23 years, Hong Kong people enjoyed unfettered freedom, with Beijing looking the other way when US-instigated activists brazenly called for the downfall of the communist party.

Beijing's mistake is over-honoring its pledge to give local officials living in a bubble too long a leash. When they messed things up America cunningly turned social discontent into political anger against Beijing.

When 12-year-olds took to the streets, shouting slogans they didn't understand, and university presidents cowering in fear from deranged protestors who burned a dissenter alive, I knew the decency of old Hong Kong had been sacrificed for the stupid right of one-person-one-vote for third-rate local leaders. Don't forget democracy was denied under the British.

By discrediting One Country Two Systems in Hong Kong, the US made mainland's peaceful reunification with Taiwan difficult. Then it cited Hong Kong's unrest and Beijing's subsequent intervention as a parallel case of China's "oppressive" rule in Xinjiang. Local leaders, by messing up, have sold China down the river. America is killing 3 birds with one stone.

Sixth, why not judge China domestically by its international behavior? China is the most rule-abiding international player, free of foreign wars, unlike America. The cornerstone of its foreign relations is mutual respect; it reacts only when repeatedly insulted, as with Australia's Morrison who, unprovoked, treated China as a punching bag, and then cried "economic coercion" when China retaliated. Doing business with China is simple: just show a little respect.

By restoring order in a failing local government, Beijing has been accused of an a priori case of oppression. If Hawaii became a snake pit of anarchy, the US would crack down even more forcefully. Hong Kong's police handled riots like gentlemen while America's cops are trigger-happy. A one-day riot in Washington killed 7 people. No one died from police action over 10-month street riots in my city. Why the double standards?

Here is a ticklish problem: with a total lack of trust between China and the West, how can any report on Xinjiang satisfy both sides?

Madam Bachelet, you have been handed a poisoned chalice. You have acted honorably and don't deserve this shabby treatment by China-haters.

Might is not right. America is no longer qualified to lecture the world. While they are busy warmongering, China is busy chasing its dream of shared prosperity. The future is Chinese.

After your retirement, you may wish to visit China again. This time, I promise you, without the burden of office, the noise in the zoo will die down and the monkeys will be quiet.



Philip Yeung

Hong Kong old-timer


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | 'Ukraine today, Taiwan tomorrow?' -- sleepwalking into another war

Opinion | Dennis Kwok: Too simple, always naïve

Opinion | An old nagging headache the new head of Hong Kong doesn't need


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