The Chinese government is not fond of criticism. Sometimes they lock the critics up (see: Ai Weiwei). They can't do that with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though. Thus, apparently in response to a Clinton's speech and the U.S. State Department's 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the Chinese government has released its own report: a catalog of the human rights abuses of the United States, accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy.
It's a fascinating document, one touching on cases both famous and obscure. Those tuned in to American public discourse will recognize a lot of media topics in there: the Giffords shooting, gun rights, TSA full-body scanners, campaign finance, WikiLeaks, unemployment, the Wal-Mart gender equity suit, and--yes, believe it or not--sexting; the Chinese government lists sexting as an example of the U.S.'s inability to look after the rights of its children.
The sources are almost as varied as the topics. As The Guardian's Tania Branigan subtly points out, there's a rather large gap between data from the U.S. Census and "10 Facts About Crime in the United States That Will Blow Your Mind, Beforitsnews.com," also cited. Other, more common sources include China Press, The New York Times, and many other news publications (for those who care, new media is represented too, with a nod to The Huffington Post).
In any event, we went through the ten pages posted in English on the government-run Xinghua news service to pull out the interesting stuff. Here's the rundown of China's accusations against the U.S., as broken down in the "report":
"I. On Life, Property and Personal Security"
This is the section where "10 Facts About Crime in the United States that Will Blow Your Mind" makes its appearance, cited in claiming that the U.S. has "the world's highest incident of violent crimes." The section covers, with great disapproval, the country's gun laws, its high shooting statistics in Chicago, and the high-profile Giffords shooting. The upshot? The U.S. has a problem with violence, and "its people's lives, properties and personal security are not duly protected."
"II. On Civil and Political Rights"
The report alleges that, in the U.S., "violation of citizens' civil and political rights by the government is severe." Examples include Department of Homeland Security electronic surveillance, visa denials (which isn't quite "citizens'" rights, if we're being picky, but it's clear what they're driving at), and TSA full-body scans and pat-downs. Here's another startling statement: "Abuse of violence and torturing suspects to get confession is serious in the U. S. law enforcement." Believe it or not, they're not talking about Guantanamo, but rather about the NYPD paying "about 964 million U.S. dollars to resolve claims against its officers over the past decade." This section also questions whether the U.S. can call itself the "land of freedom" with so many people in its prisons, and uses recent exonerations through DNA evidence as a sign that "wrongful conviction" is a serious problem in the country.
"The U.S. regards itself as 'the beacon of democracy,'" reads another paragraph. "However, its democracy is largely based on money." This leads to a discussion of campaign finance. Here, the report also addresses the particularly thorny issue of Internet freedoms:
While advocating Internet freedom, the U.S. in fact imposes fairly strict restriction on cyberspace. On June 24, 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which will give the federal government "absolute power" to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency. Handing government the power to control the Internet will only be the first step towards a greatly restricted Internet system, whereby individual IDs and government permission would be required to operate a website (Prison Planet.com, June 25, 2010). The United States applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted "Internet freedom" in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory.
"III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights"
There are some fascinating assumptions about economic rights in here, if you care to unpack them; it would be great stuff for a college political philosophy class. The report treats high unemployment, poverty, and homelessness as proof that Americans' "economic, social and cultural rights protection is going from bad to worse." There's also a long section on inadequate health insurance, though mostly citing numbers pre-health care reform. Absolutely no mention is made of the recent health care law.
"IV. On Racial Discrimination"
"Racial discrimination, deep-seated in the United States, has permeated every aspect of social life," the section opens. Evidence cited includes the few non-white appointments of Mayor Bloomberg, lagging numbers for minorities in terms of high school graduation, hate crimes, and "immigrants' rights and interests" being "not guaranteed."
"V. On the Rights of Women and Children"
Here the Wal-Mart suit and pay equity is discussed, as well as women earning only "21 percent of doctorate degrees in computer science, around one-third of the doctorates in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences, chemistry, and math." The report also uses rape and domestic abuse statistics (no comparisons--just ones from the United States) to argue that "the situation regarding the rights of women and children in the United States is bothering."
The report concludes with this bizarre nugget of information, perhaps a nod to concerned parents everywhere:
According to a survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of American teens have sent or posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves. (www.co.jefferson.co.us, March 23, 2010). At least 500 profit-oriented nude chat websites were set up by teens in the United States, involving tens of thousands of pornographic pictures.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.