Human rights issue is a universal problem for all nations. However, in today’s world, human rights is highly politicized in the geopolitical arena and is often used as a demonizing tool. The UNHRC is sometimes used a political football by all sides
19 March 2021 | CCCA (Image: Ashley Ross)
In geopolitics, the human rights issue was popularized during Cold War 1 when the West criticized USSR on the Gulag, a system of forced labour camps established under Stalin’s long reign. The lack of soviet media broadcast facilities in English meant that the world gave recognition to US allegations.
In the current Cold War 2, the prevalence of using the human rights cards for geopolitics have risen sharply and the new target is China with the West alleging human rights violations in China, and in particularly Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong.
In Australia, we are aligned with the US playing the human rights card.
With increasing sophistication in English TV cable broadcast and other medias, the nonWestern press was able to refute these allegations and at the same time, accuse the West of human right violations and pointing at their hypocrisy.
The human rights card is a double-edged sword and illustrated well in the John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations article by Prof Colin Mackerras (17 March 2021) Australia has more to lose in a human right ‘face off’ with China
“China is stepping up human rights accusations against Australia following numerous condemnations Australia has made on the same grounds. Before intensifying criticisms of China’s human rights, Australia should recognize that this can be a double-edged sword.
An interesting fact pointed out by a reader Godfree Roberts:
“Anyone who reads the 30 Articles enumerated in the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights will recognize, immediately, that China’s human rights record is far, far better than the USA’s or the EU’s.
Of the 30 Articles in the Declaration, China leads the US 26-2, with two draws.
Though China leads the US, it does not criticize other countries’ behaviours or judge their domestic policies. Yet China has ratified the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights while the US has refused to do so.” Rebuttal to Australian allegation can also be found in:
The Guardian (13 March 2021) reported “More than 30 countries condemn Australia at UN over high rates of child incarceration. An opinion piece in the South China Morning Post (15 December 2020) from prominent human rights lawyer Greg Barns SC, says, “Australia is in no position to criticise China on human rights abuses Australian governments have inflicted mental and physical harm on asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians, supported Israel in its treatment of Palestinians and lagged in the fight against climate change.”
South East Asian mainstream media is generally not restrained in criticizing recent Australian government statements. It will be seen that Australia will continue to lose a great deal of relationship capital. Muscling up to China may be great local news in Australia. But it will be seen as inappropriate and foolish to bystanders in ASEAN and East Asian region. They are shaking their heads over the perceived inexperience of our government to handle it.
We believe the fun and games in bashing the Panda bear has gone past being funny and that includes labelling people with pro-China views as being Panda lovers and should be considered disloyal to Australia. This act also demoralizes the 1.2 million Chinese Australians and throws a spanner in the works for a cohesive and harmonious multicultural Australia.
Australia jumped on the band wagon using the human rights card and her collateral damage was $40 billion in lost export revenue and counting. Can we afford to lose anymore? We are feeding US with our tax money spending $250 billion plus to buy weapons from US and other business tax concession for big US Corporation investments. Are we hoping Uncle Sam will come to our rescue economically or just paying lip services?
Human rights is an important universal issue and should be discussed intelligently including a new universal agreed definition derived by the consensus of all nations, not just what the superpowers of the West dictate?
Constructive diplomacy and pragmatism will bring peace and prosperity whilst controversial allegations can only bring disastrous distrust, conflicts, and wars for all of us no matter which side you are on.
This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.