Human rights violations look certain to scuttle early Biden-Xi talks

Discussions between the leaders of China and the US will have to wait amid Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan issues

Xi Jinping’s move to break the ice with US President Joe Biden’s administration will be swamped by an avalanche of criticism on human rights violations.

Earlier this week, China’s leading diplomate Yang Jiechi called for a new era of “corporation” with “red line” caveats.

In response, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a media briefing that Biden will be in no rush to engage in discussions with President Xi.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price went even further. He made it clear in a briefing to journalists that the priority for the United States was to bring “allies and partners” on board to tackle the China question.

“So, as a first step we want to make sure that we are in lockstep with those allies, in lockstep with those partners, and then … you can expect that there will be engagement in several areas with China,” he said.

Price also dismissed “Beijing’s red line” approach when it came to human rights.

“We urge Beijing to respect human rights and the rule of law,” he said on Twitter, referring to China’s attempts to disbar and harass Lu Siwei and Ren Quanniu, human rights lawyers representing the Hong Kong 12. 

So far, 10 of those Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have been jailed for trying to escape to Taiwan.

Another “red line” area involves the Xinjiang internment camps. Accusations of “rape, sexual abuse and torture” surfaced on Wednesday, according to a major BBC investigation.

The facts:

  • The comments from Biden’s administration came less than 24 hours after Yang’s speech.
  • He called for a resent in Sino-American relations during an online forum of the National Committee on US-China Relations.
  • Yang mentioned the word “cooperation” 24 times in his speech.
  • He reassured the US that China had no intention of challenging its position on the  global stage
  • At the same time, he cautioned the White House about meddling in domestic “issues,” involving Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan.
  • They constitute a “red line that must not be crossed.”

What was said: “The relationship with China is going to be multi-layered, we’ll deal with climate, we’ll deal with the economy, we’ll deal with security,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Human rights will also be at the top of the agenda. At least one million Uighur Muslims have been held in Xinjiang camps with Beijing being accused of forced “sterilization and abortion.” China has denied the claims. “My judgment remains that genocide was committed against the Uighurs and that hasn’t changed,” Blinken told a media briefing, according to a US State Department transcript.

Human rights issues: Allegations have emerged that ethnic Uighur women in the camps have been subject to “rape, sexual abuse and torture,” the BBC reported on Wednesday, according to “former detainees and a guard.” The accusations could not be independently verified by China Factor. Beijing has always strongly denied allegations of abuse in the autonomous region.

China Factor comment: These latest horror reports from Xinjiang will only increase the pressure on Washington and its allies to get tough with the ruling Communist Party of China. Economic priorities can no longer overshadow human rights violations when dealing with Xi’s regime.