Statement from the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
Human Rights Day – Embassy Beijing
As Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), I am honored to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States strives to live up to our commitments under the Declaration and recognizes our solemn duty to promote respect for human rights at home and abroad. The United States is hosting the Summit for Democracy, where democracies around the world join us to defend against authoritarianism, fight corruption, and promote respect for human rights.
Since my arrival to Beijing, I have seen the PRC and its state media discuss the United States’ domestic challenges. We welcome this discussion and urge the PRC to be as open to criticism. As President Biden recently said, “leading by example means not pretending that our history has been perfect but demonstrating how strong nations speak honestly about the past and uphold the truth and strive to improve.” To have a true and vibrant democracy, one must have a governance model that safeguards open debate and freedom of expression – even when such expression is critical of one’s government, freedom of the press and the right of the people to express their political will through free and fair elections are vital to a democracy.
While I have witnessed China’s progress in many areas, I have also seen the PRC inaccurately claim, here in China, in international media, and at the United Nations that it supports human rights and democratic values. On Xinjiang, Secretary Blinken has affirmed that the PRC is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups. The United States reiterates our call for the PRC to cease committing atrocities, release those unjustly detained, and allow independent investigators unhindered access to the region. The United States calls on the PRC to allow Tibetan Buddhists to freely practice their beliefs. On Hong Kong, the United States remains deeply concerned about the dismantling of the city’s high degree of autonomy under the National Security Law and the continued deterioration of protected rights and freedoms of its residents.
More broadly, the PRC reportedly jails, tortures, and disappears Chinese citizens for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression. In an effort to obscure facts and suppress a free press, journalists face physical and digital threats and harassment. The space for civil society continues to shrink as NGOs face greater restrictions on their operations and their ability to receive support. Lawyers cannot perform basic functions to defend the rights of citizens as they face intimidation from the police, the constant risk of disbarment, and severe restrictions on their speech. Freedom of religion or belief continues to deteriorate as clergy and adherents are forced to obey ever stricter regulations and restrictions. Social media accounts of LGBTQI+ groups on college campuses are being censored, and brave women speaking out against their aggressors are defamed and silenced.
On this day celebrating Human Rights Day, I resolutely affirm that human rights know no borders and are not internal affairs. As Secretary Blinken has said, “The United States does not claim to be perfect, but we strive every day to improve, to hold ourselves accountable, to become a more perfect union. We confront our own challenges openly, transparently, for the entire world to see.” I hope the PRC will live up to its words and obligations, trust its citizens, govern transparently, and protect human rights. In doing so, the PRC would begin to align its actions with its duties to the Chinese people and the international community. Until that happens, the United States and our partners have the responsibility to promote accountability for the PRC for its human rights abuses.