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China’s Own Propaganda Side Event at the UN Human Rights Council

In connection with its Universal Periodic Review, the CCP regime mobilized fake “experts” to “applaud China’s achievements in human rights protection.”

By Tenzin Younten

February 1, 2024

"Chinese Propaganda" Credits @FFHR.CZ

On January 24, a day after China’s 4th Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where delegates from 20 countries questioned China over incidences of blatant human rights violations in Tibet, Beijing held a side event to downplay the significance of the global scrutiny over its human rights record.

The side event entitled “Human Rights and Chinese Modernization” was organized by Beijing’s “China Society for Human Rights Studies” during the UN rights review sessions in Geneva. This side event, streamed online, was attended by more than 50 experts, scholars, representatives of social organizations, and media representatives—mainly from China with few representatives from foreign countries, according to the Chinese media.

Highlighting the side event held by the Chinese NGO in Geneva, China’s propaganda media “Global Times” and the “Xinhua’”news agency stated that “Global experts applaud China’s achievements in human rights protection.” A close scrutiny would reveal that Peter Hediger, a former Swiss diplomat, was the only foreign “expert,” and that the Chinese “experts” were all affiliated with Chinese government-funded institutes based in China.

“Xinhua” quoted Hediger as stating, “China’s accomplishments in safeguarding human rights are truly noteworthy, and the citizens have ample reasons to take pride in these commendable achievements.” However, it must be noted that Hediger has been an avid advocate for China often quoted in Chinese official media. Recently, during the Forum on Global Human Rights Governance held in Beijing last June, he praised China’s initiative for finding a solution to the Ukraine crisis and criticized the US and EU for ignoring China’s initiative and efforts. He asserted, “It is deplorable to ignore China’s solution to the Ukraine crisis.” Hediger’s views were quoted only in Chinese official media and ignored by independent media.

The so-called “global experts” participating in the side event included Zhu Hongli, deputy secretary general of The China Society for Human Rights Studies, Xiao Wu, an associate professor from Southwest University of Political Science and Law, and Dai Ruijun, senior fellow of the Institute of International Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Also speaking at the event were Suolang Zhuoma (Sonam Dolma), an assistant researcher at China Tibetology Research Center, and Remina Xiaokaiti of Xinjiang University, who simply regurgitated Chinese official narratives of human rights developments and prosperity in Tibet and East Turkestan. Speaking at the side event, Sonam Dolma remarked, “In the process of modernization, Tibetan traditional culture has gained new vitality and has received widespread attention and protection.”

As all the above representatives belong to China-based institutes, established and funded by the Chinese government, their statements naturally become questionable. Besides, none of these “experts” have ever reported on the deplorable human rights situation inside Tibet and the uprisings by the Tibetans in 2008 and the Uyghurs in 2009. Nor did these experts mention China holding at least one million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps that made global headlines. These “experts” also failed to notice one million Tibetan children being forcibly put into the colonial boarding schools, which made an issue of serious debate in UN sessions and global media.

Responding to the earlier three-day international forum on Tibetan studies attended by more than 300 global scholars held by the Beijing-funded Center, the spokesperson of the Dharamshala-based Tibetan Government in exile, Tenzin Lekshey, stated, “The Chinese government’s claim of protecting Tibetan culture, language, and religion is completely untrue,” and added that “Instead, they are using such platforms and seminars to amplify their false narratives to the international community,”

During the recently concluded China’s 4th Universal Periodic Review at the UN, Geneva, China was heavily scrutinized by UN member states over its blatant human rights violations against Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Hongkongers. As the International Campaign for Tibet remarked about the two-fold increased support, “We welcome the considerable rise in statements and concerns among states with regards to Chinese policies in Tibet”

During the rights review, Tibet was a focal point of the discussion as an unprecedented number of UN member states raised China’s cultural genocidal practices against Tibetans including violations of religious, and cultural rights and coercive boarding schools and relocation policies.

Beijing’s efforts to avert accountability and shut down voices raising issues related to its human rights violations against Tibetans, Uyghur, and Hongkongers remain relentless. Beijing’s regime uses all kinds of covert and overt means to subvert or undermine human rights concerns, including organizing side events with propaganda motives, thwarting or limiting civil society input, fabricating information, using influence or coercive tactics against international organizations, and mobilizing its allied countries to embellish Beijing’s human rights records.


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