Late last month, the European Union, United States, Britain and Canada each announced sanctions against China over alleged human right abuses in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, claiming an unproven repression of the Uyghur ethnic group. Also in a report of human rights published by the United States, it accused China of carrying out “genocide” against the Uyghur ethnic group.
The Orchestrated and well-coordinated West’s attacks on China, coming soon after the country declared “complete victory” over extreme or absolute poverty, that saw nearly 100 million lifted out of the scourge of poverty in the past eight years is not accidental. It is undeniable that poverty is the most vicious assault on human dignity and thereby, the greatest perpetrator of human right abuses. Poverty basically robs its victims of constructive thinking, deprives them rational judgments and choices. To live in poverty, illiteracy and ill-health is to be robbed of human essence and to leave in a state of nature, which the English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes described as bestial, brutish and short.
China just broke through the millennia scourge of poverty that has not only previously hobbled its people but trapped a sizeable portion of humanity, 10 years ahead of the UN hypothetical deadline for reduction of global poverty in 2030. To relieve more than 700 million people of the scourge of poverty in a generation is no mean feat and so far, no country has accomplished that, therefore China is clearly a pacesetter whose example is worthy of serious interrogation.
At a time that United Nations has praised China for not only setting the pace in the fight against and defeat of poverty, but has made important contributions to the global efforts towards reduction of poverty, why is the West up in propaganda arms against China, using Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang as the underbelly for the coordinated slander despite that these territories are core components of China’s sovereign territorial integrity and as such, its internal affairs.
The ethnic Uyghur nationality who is mainly Muslims is among other ethnic groups in the autonomous Xinjiang region. The status of autonomous regions is China’s practice and recognition that in any province where there are preponderance of ethnic minority groups, they should be considerable degree of autonomy that allows the ethnic minorities to play pivotal roles in managing their own affairs and inclusive governance process that preserves ethnic identity through the conservation and preservation of their unique features including language, customs, religion and even a national priority to support their accelerated development. In fact as a convention, richer provinces provide and make generous contributions to speed up the economic and wellbeing of lesser endowed provinces, especially the autonomous regions where ethnic minority groups are preponderant. Against the backdrop of this practice, the Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang has grown faster in population rate, than other ethnic groups, including the Han which has the lowest population growth rate within the same period.
With China’s “complete victory” over absolute poverty, which among other things saw the relocation of nearly 20 million people, mostly of minority ethnic groups from inhospitable mountainous areas to modern homes, with tailored skills and other facilities to support their new life in post-poverty rural revitalization scheme, China has shattered one of mankind’s enduring myth that poverty is a fate or a destiny. Through a targeted poverty relief approach, designed and followed meticulously as in doing embroidery, President Xi Jinping also, the General Secretary of the Communist Party at China (CPC) led the battle in the final assault against poverty fulfilling the solemn pledge of the party to achieve a moderately prosperous society in all respects, for all the Chinese people before the party marks one hundred years of its founding. It is well known and open fact that China has provision for universal health insurance scheme covering more than 95% of its entire population, including rural residents and all ethnic national minority groups.
The context of the Western liberal democracies in which it have developed, expanded and even matured is the decisive growth in prosperity and affluence of middle class. For China, which has the largest middle class in the world at over 400 million, only continuous expansion of prosperity among its people can guarantee, consolidate and continuously improve its Consultative Socialist democracy. No government who wish to repress and intimidate its own citizens would implement universal literacy, promote and guarantee universal health-care access and assiduously work for a widely shared prosperity, through eliminating extreme material deprivations.
If China has therefore, brought unprecedented prosperity to its people of all ethnic national groups why is the West fixated on the imaginary repression and abuse of the rights of ethnic minorities.
It is a well-known fact that modern China was founded against the will of the West for whom the old China was a lucrative colonial outpost for expropriation, exportation and domination. Even China’s homegrown reforms and opening up was widely believed in the West to be destined to a dead end at which point China is expected to reconcile itself to western model of development as the only way to go. This however did not happen.
In recent years, China’s major power diplomacy has contributed immensely to the realignment of balance of forces in the international system in favor of inclusive international governance or multilateralism with international law and the United Nations System as the fulcrum of contemporary international life. With China’s stunning development and bold imprints on the international arena, the example of China: self-made, confident, bold, unyielding to neither threats nor flattery; is one that the West cannot tolerate from among other developing countries from the South.
Since, China is long past the threat of regime change as even the most callous and implacable hawk of the Western political elite cannot contemplate a regime change in Beijing as Beijing will be unmoved, unshaken and unperturbed by any plot of regime change, the west has cowardly chosen the option of slander to blemish China’s giant strides in its all-round development and advancement, and to tarnish its example which is the real reason why the West spreads falsehood against China.
China has never claimed to have attained an Eldorado but always restate its strivings at improving the quality of lives of its people and making contributions to the cause of improving the lots of mankind. As clearly stated in white paper recently released by the China’s State Council; the country “will prosper only when the world prospers, and vice versa. The country has always closely linked its future with that of the rest of the world. While committed to eradicating its own poverty, China has actively participated in international cooperation on poverty alleviation, acted as an advocate, facilitator of and contributor to the international cause of poverty alleviation, and worked with other countries to build a global community of shared future that is free from poverty and pursues common prosperity.”
As a practical contribution to upscale global intercourse and cooperation, Beijing initiated the Belt and Road framework of international cooperation, a massive scheme of global infrastructure connectivity and seamless investment flows within and across countries to generate the compelling material and institutional infrastructure, necessary for the construction of a community of shared future for humanity.
The new wave of Sino phobia that is sweeping the western political establishment has no prospect to achieve anything concrete, or tangible as it would neither ruffle Beijing nor dilute the broad international excitement and admiration for the rise of major power that has neither encroached an inch of any one’s soil nor instigated regime-change violence anywhere to install a puppet regime to control and grab any one’s resources.
The trend of the contemporary international system is cooperation as dangerous pockets of non-traditional threats to our common humanity like COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, terrorism and others have emerge, and requiring broad partnership and international solidarity to tackle.
Onunaiju is Research Director, Center for China Studies, Abuja