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21 Aug, 2017

Chinese Commentary: US is not a human rights paradise, nor the world’s moral leader

By Shi Feiran (People’s Daily Online)

Beijing, 17 Aug 2017 – The U.S. Department of State issued its report on International Religious Freedom for 2016, once again using human rights as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of China, tarnish its international image, and promote U.S. strategic interests.

In response to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China fully respects and protects freedom of religion and belief in accordance with the law. China slammed the report for maliciously criticizing China’s religious freedom situation in disregard of the facts, and urged the U.S. side to mind its own business and stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of religion.

File Photo: People celebrate Lesser Bairam in SW China’s Kunming.

As in any country, there is always room for improvement, but freedom of religious belief is a basic right enjoyed by all Chinese citizens. China protects normal religious activities, but no country allows illegal or harmful activities to be carried out in the name of religion. As a sovereign country, China has every right to guard against what it sees as foreign infiltration through religion and to take appropriate measures to stop extremists from spreading their poisonous ideologies in the country.

As a major country with great influence, the U.S. has an important role to play in advancing the protection of human rights and religious freedom around the world. But the U.S. should also realize that America is not a human rights paradise, nor the world’s moral leader. It thus has no right to use human rights or religious freedom as an excuse to undermine the authority of other countries for its own strategic purposes.

In fact, the U.S. itself is awash in terrible human rights abuses—not only against its own citizens, but the citizens of other countries. For example, hate toward Muslims is growing. According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), reported hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. rose dramatically in 2016. “Islamophobic bias continues its trend toward increasing violence,” the report found. In 2016, CAIR recorded a 57 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents over 2015, accompanied by a 44 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same period. From 2014 to 2016, anti-Muslim bias incidents jumped 65 percent and hate crimes targeting Muslims surged 584 percent.

The U.S. government continues to treat Muslims as terrorists-in-waiting, spying on Muslim Americans because of their religious belief and practices, and stealthily trying to ban Muslims from entering the country. The U.S. government has also killed a large number of innocent civilians in Muslim countries in its controversial targeted killing program, and the CIA’s brutal interrogation program is the very definition of torture. In a report last year, the International Criminal Court said the U.S. may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Taken together, it is wildly hypocritical for the U.S. to point the finger at China and in the same breath claim the world’s moral high ground, when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

But it is not just hate toward Muslims that is on the rise. As the recent deadly racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, have shown, hate and terror are on the rise in America, and such problems are expected to increase. In its eagerness to claim the moral high ground, the U.S. government has ignored the facts of its own situation, showing its bias against China. Rather than place America on top of all other nations as the world’s moral authority and undermine other countries’ efforts and hard-won achievements, the U.S. government should focus more on making America “great again,” and less on making other countries more like America.