At the U.N. this morning, evidence of the Party’s brutal conduct was put on full display during a side event hosted by the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and human-rights groups.
Chinese diplomats over the past week had railed against the event — and unsuccessfully asked other countries not to attend — but, sure enough, this morning the video feed for the panel was the first thing displayed on the U.N.’s livestream platform. “We will keep standing up and speaking out until China’s government stops its crimes against humanity and the genocide of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., during opening remarks for the discussion that followed.
Participants focused on the Party’s abuses and skewered the refusal of U.N. officials such as Secretary-General António Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to decisively condemn Beijing. Jewher Ilham, a Uyghur advocate and daughter of Ilham Tohti, an intellectual detained by the Xinjiang authorities, spoke movingly on the personal toll of Beijing’s abuses: “Families have been separated, hearts have been torn, children and wives are screaming and crying for the missing or the loss of their fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, cousins, and mothers.”
There was an additional, implicit takeaway from the event: Wherever China goes in the world now, condemnation of its genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang must follow — even at the U.N., where top officials have yet to strongly condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples.
This month was supposed to be a productive one for the Party’s advances at international organizations, as China assumed the presidency of the U.N. Security Council for May. Beijing seems to view this routine responsibility as its latest opportunity to shape international discourse in its favor, as the Chinese Communist Party turns 100 this year and as it celebrates the People’s Republic’s displacement of Taipei at the U.N. 50 years ago. During a press conference last week, Zhang Jun, China’s U.N. ambassador, described all of the ways in which he says the party-state has contributed to global humanitarian goals.
The U.S. and its allies don’t see it fit to leave that laughable narrative unchallenged, and have made clear that they will confront the Party over its atrocities by highlighting what such an order renovated by Beijing would actually mean: acceptance of wanton brutality on the international stage.
To be sure, the Biden administration did have a worrying stumble recently, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined a Security Council meeting convened by China’s U.N. ambassador last week to discuss multilateralism as Beijing defines it. Not only should Blinken not have blessed the gathering with his presence, instead of explicitly condemning the Party’s conduct, he panned former President Trump’s foreign policy, saying that the U.S. has not always upheld its international commitments.
His statement amounted to unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic battles that take place at Turtle Bay. The Chinese party-state, of course, never traffics in that sort of conciliatory rhetoric.
Ahead of the side event this morning, Chinese governmental social-media accounts continued to whitewash Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang. China’s mission to the U.N. even sent a lower-ranking diplomat to voice the Party’s position during the Uyghur panel: “So-called genocides are lies of the century. China has nothing to hide.” And, in a statement after the event, “What gives these countries the right to judge the human rights situation in Xinjiang?”
These lies will only grow louder and more effective with the Party’s rising global clout, unfortunately; already dozens of countries have endorsed them at the U.N. All the more reason for opponents of genocide to redouble their efforts to prove that the Party should be treated as an international pariah for its crimes.