U.S. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices mirror narrow understanding of human rights, hegemonic thinking

The U.S. Department of State on March 30 issued its 45th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. In the reports, the U.S. once again takes its narrow understanding of human rights as the so-called criteria to judge others, and considers all situations that vary from its criteria as “human rights violation.”

The White House employs the reports as a tool to oppress other countries that have different political systems, trying everything to tarnish the latter so as to maintain its hegemony in the world.

The U.S. claims that the reports cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.

However, what have been set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements are not only civil and political rights of individuals, but also their economic, social and cultural rights. Besides, apart from worker rights, these documents also protect the rights of special groups including ethnic minorities, women, children, persons with disabilities and seniors. In addition, massive resolutions adopted by the General Assembly of the UN and the UN Human Rights Council were about a series of individual and collective human rights, including the right to subsistence, right to development, right to peace and right to environment.

It’s weird that in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices of the U.S., only personal freedom and political rights, which are extremely highlighted under the American state system, are included. Such selection fully exposed the intention of the White House to force its political and social systems on all countries in rest of the world.

Just as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in the preface of the reports, that the U.S. is committed to placing human rights at the center of its foreign policy. When the U.S. takes such standard as a universal gauge to measure other countries that have different political systems, the human rights conditions of the latter would be described as extremely poor.

It’s not surprising that Blinken is calling white black when talking about the human rights situation of the last year in the reports.

Speaking of COVID-19, he says the pandemic impacted not only individuals’ health, but their abilities to safely enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. That is how the failure of pandemic control in the U.S. is glossed over with “democratic values and processes” used to protect citizens.

The U.S. is witnessing a tragedy of 30 million infections and over 500,000 deaths. Is this a desired result of the so-called “democratic values and processes?”

On the contrary, China and other countries have taken decisive measures to contain the spread of the virus, trying their best to protect their people’s rights to life and health. However, they are repeatedly slandered by the U.S. due to their efforts. What a shame on some of the politicians in the U.S.! Is not taking any measures and letting the virus spread a way to protect human rights?

Placing personal freedom above people’s rights to health and life is exactly one of the major reasons of how the White House turned the U.S. into one of the most plagued countries in the world. However, it is taken by the U.S. as a doctrine to judge other countries. Aren’t there enough negative examples offered by the country?

Based on such narrow and arrogant human rights criteria, the U.S. government gives positive evaluation on whoever adopts American political system and democratic processes, regardless of the results, and criticizes and oppresses those who don’t.

In the reports, there is barely any trace of the lasting protests across the U.S. triggered by the outrage over the death of George Floyd, or the violence at the U.S. Capitol following the presidential election, or the discrimination and hate crimes against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the reports give a thumb up to the turmoil in China’s Hong Kong, Belarus, Nigeria and Venezuela.

The reports are silent about how many protesters the U.S. has arrested, but pretend to be righteous and call the education and vocational training offered by China to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism in Xinjiang a crime.

The reports ignore how the U.S. has launched wars, violated sovereignty of other countries, killed civilians and abused unilateral sanctions across the world, but attack the governments of Syria, Yemen, Cuba and Venezuela, all victims of the U.S. hegemony.

Such typical politicizing of human rights and double standard are described by Blinken as “objective and comprehensive information.” How impressive it is!

The narrow understanding of human rights of the U.S. led to massive tragedies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the so-called human rights diplomacy of the country undermined world peace and brought human rights disasters to other parts of the world. It’s foreseeable that the U.S. would create much more tragic events across the world if the White House insists on going down the wrong path and keeps acting irresponsibly.

The U.S. government had better face the facts, reflect on its human rights tragedies, immediately stop forcing on other countries its narrow-minded human rights philosophy that has been proved invalid, and completely abandon its hegemony and double standard on human rights issues.

(Chang Jian is the director of the Center for Human Rights Studies, Nankai University, and a professor with the university’s Zhou Enlai School of Government.)