Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
China publishes a human rights record of the USA (chinadaily.com.cn)
120 points by bad_alloc on May 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments

Maybe we should think of this more as a supplement to the existing US published on on hundreds of other countries while omitting themselves.

Of course it's a bit hypocritical but a) that's sort of the point, where does the US get off writing these reports either all considered and b) so what? Why are we saying it is hypocritical? It mostly reads as a collection of facts and statistics. We are annoyed because in this collection they read a bit like a condemnation from someone we also view guilty of most of these... transgressions? However the underlying data shouldn't be dismissed just because we don't like the publisher, that's terribly unscientific. And if we insist upon this, where is the uproar when the US publishes its reports?

Ignore the hypocrisy, it's a BS smoke screen to try and dismiss the facts and stats. And yes, they don't paint the greatest picture. But maybe that should be looked into instead of just being ignored because we don't like it. Hypocrisy of the publisher has nothing to do with the validity and accuracy of the message.

The hypocrisy argument can go round and round without accomplishing anything more than saying no one can talk about anything. It is unproductive so let's abandon it and actually talk about what some of this article is shedding some light on. Are we happy about that? If not, what can we take away from it and what can we do?

Not to defend China on human rights here, but to those accusing China of hypocrisy: China does this to point out the hypocrisy of the US - who is too happy to accuse others of human rights abuses while running turning a blind eye to its own problems (for some modern examples, see the latest NDAA or the patriot act). The economist actually had blog about this just recently: http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2012/05/americas-exa...

I don't think anyone in Chinese government expects the world to take them seriously on human rights. They're just trying to deflect criticism.

actually, as a patriotic american who cares about human rights - I appreciate such reports. For anyone else who feels the same, here's a perhaps more reliable, effective source: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/americas/usa

>Not to defend China on human rights here, but to those accusing China of hypocrisy: China does this to point out the hypocrisy of the US - who is too happy to accuse others of human rights abuses while running turning a blind eye to its own problems.

There are, I think, relatively few people who would claim the US has a perfect record on human rights, but I don't think it's fair to say that we turn a blind eye to them. These things do get debated, even if we ultimately decide to go with the less liberal option.

Saying that we ought to get our house completely in order before pointing out human rights violation in other countries is wronger than wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wronger_than_wrong

Hypocrisy is an outcome of propaganda. Western views on morality demand justification for actions which others would be punished severely for. Yet, behind history, the "good guys" are just as ruthless and brutal as the "bad guys."

I've heard the meme, but it surely doesn't justify any more of this crap...

Can you explain why you think this is crap? Don't you think it's important that attnion is brought to every human rights violation everywhere?

I hope you say crap meaning human rights violations justified because the other does too.

If you mean crap as in pointing out the inconvenient truth to invite dialog, then all i have to say is fuck yeah America!

On a related note, there has been a growing anti-foreigner sentiment in China in the past few weeks following a widely mediatised sexual assault on a Chinese girl by a British man. Just last week, me and a friend were drinking calmly at a bar when suddenly, two Chinese men smashed bottles of beer on our head. We were the only foreigners in the place and we have no idea what could have motivated this act apart from our presence there. I strongly hope this was an isolated incident and had little to do with the recent anti-foreigner propaganda. Some references:



There is a serious lack of comparison to any other countries in this report. Just spouting statistics like "The violent victimization rate was 15 victimizations per 1,000 residents" is worse than useless.

That said, they raise many good points and we should be ashamed of our incarceration rate and out-of-control "national security" apparatus in particular. Of course they are in no position to scold us on most of these points, but that doesn't make their criticisms necessarily wrong.

I don't think that was their intention. I believe their goal was something along the lines of, "You can point out our flaws all you want, but you've got problems too." type of thing. Although, I think it was primarily just a propaganda piece for local citizens. None of this is to say that fingers shouldn't be pointed. Everyone has flaws, it's a question of whether those flaws are being addressed and worked on. I think I know which country of the two is making a genuine effort...

My impression, from living here all my life, is that very little is being actively done by our government to improve human rights in the US, and very much time, effort and money is being spent on reducing human rights. Three example areas are the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, and the War on Intellectual Property Consumers.

The government can't really do that much to improve human rights, but they can do a lot to curtail them. The funny thing is that, while there are a lot of problems I'll get into later, the US is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to your rights against the local policeman. You have every legal right to say nothing to them other than maybe presenting your identification, you have every legal right to deny them a search unless they have a warrant, and once you're in custody, you have every legal right to shut your mouth and say nothing, and they aren't even allowed to beat you up. Any evidence that is gathered in violation of a person's civil rights is thrown out in court. Add in the freedom to express any political viewpoint whatsoever without worrying about violating some vague "hate crimes" laws and the constitutional right to own firearms, and we're at a point that most European countries would say is outright excessive in terms of personal freedom.

As I mentioned though, I don't want to whitewash the US record. Police abuses do happen far too often, the TSA is an obnoxious joke, and asset forfeiture is a very problematic principle. The FBI, CIA, and NSA can in theory do nasty things to you, but they can do nasty things to you whether or not you're American. Plus, once you've gone through the due process, the prisons are pretty fucking awful and you have to stay there for an excessive period of time. And we have a death penalty. And the drug laws are a joke.

"The government can't really do that much to improve human rights, but they can do a lot to curtail them."

I agree with this general idea, but there is one very effective thing the govt can do to improve human rights, and that is to not curtail them.

Rolling back human rights reduction would be an unexpected bonus, but I'd be happy if they just stopped painting us into a smaller corner.

All valid points. Perhaps I need to read/watch alternative media sources. I mostly don't hear about those issues for the most part. Any recommendations for factual/somewhat unbiased information?

I don't have any specific recommendations. Almost all sources of information are biased. You can use that as a feature, to see the perspective that the source is trying to influence you with, or you can at least be aware of it. Basically, treat every source of information critically.

I come to my current perspective from years of watching.


Perhaps you're right. I feel like China has regressed quite a bit in that capacity though. I try and stay up to date on American politics and from what I can tell, there are some 'good intention' efforts towards fixing some of these issues.

Unfortunately, a lot of them seem misguided; in my opinion.

Should we maybe be ashamed of our crime rate, that causes certain individual who commit said crimes to be incarcerated?

The stuff about arresting protesters was really ironic.

While I - as a Canadian - am not a HUGE fan of America(nothing personal, just spoiled in the great North), I find it more than a little hypocritical for China to be pointing the finger at anyone for these types of things. Which isn't to say that fingers shouldn't be pointed. But maybe countries should start pointing them at themselves first? Look inwards and fix your own problems.

But that's the exact point they want to make regarding the U.S. pointing the finger at everyone else without first trying to fix itself.

Agreed. I'm not disputing that. I don't think America is actively trying to not 'fix itself'. I often wonder if some of its efforts are misguided, but I do believe there is a genuine effort. This is just China's way of saying, "You've got problems too, fix your house before pointing fingers."

The NDAA has just passed a couple of months ago, Guantanamo still exists...

The US is actively and obviously violating human rights. I don't see how one could possibly get the idea that there even is the wish to seriously mitigate those violations let alone a genuine effort to do anything about it, quite the opposite actually.

Bush managed to give the US a reputation in Europe that is almost on par with Russia and China. Why do you think that is?

I agree with your point about not pointing fingers. I do think that this article has value - in the sense that it fosters a frank dialogue about the human-rights records of our own governments.

As a dual US/CA citizen currently living in Canada, I think that both nations have made some troubling human-rights violations in recent months with the Occupy protests and G20 summit. While the Chinese article has its flaws, it does make some valid points about hypocrisy in our governments. One thing that especially bothers me is the treatment of the indigenous peoples of North America (Native Americans, aboriginal tribes, whatever term you like). Can we really take the moral "high ground" when bashing China about the Tibet issue? Granted, the Canadian government has made some baby steps towards reconciliation with indigenous tribes in the country, but there's a lot of room for improvement (I am not as up-to-date about the current state of affairs in the US).

In essence, none of our governments are perfect, but finger-pointing isn't going to get us anywhere. I think that it's more important for us to look at how we can improve in the future. Having the US include itself in its human-rights report would be a great first step but I seriously doubt that it'll happen.

The US govt. doesn't include itself in its annual human rights reports either (see: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index...).

That strikes me as curious. While I'm certain there is a reasonable explanation, i.e., "This is a report on foreign governments.", it would make sense to include themselves. Why do you suppose that is?

Because the American government could not care less about those violations in other countries, and they just issue those papers as propaganda?

In fact, if you read your modern world history, America was behind tons of the worst violations in the first place, supporting the regimes that perpetrated them as long as they catered to the US interests. They have setup lots of dictatorships in Latin America for example, they had armed Bin Laden and co, they have best terms with Israel and Saudi Arabia, the had Noriega as their puppet man, they had supported Saddam Hussein (yes, that Saddam) against Iran, they had toppled the democratic government of Iran to install a dictatorship in the sixties, etc etc.

If I had the mass genocide of Native Americans, the slavery of blacks, segregation till the '60s, concentration camps for Native Americans and later Japanese, McCarthyism, 2 atomic bombs on civilians, Agent Orange, and medical experiments without their knowledge on latin populations on my hands, I would be too ashamed to publish anything about any other country's "human violations".

Don't forget that much of Iran's ire against the US is fallout from the US-backed coup overthrowing Iran's democratically-elected government in the 50s.

Canada needs its own report after mass arresting 400 protestors recently in Montreal and 700 during G20.

Agreed. I'm certainly not condoning that behaviour in any way. I'm merely speaking to the 'China v. America' debate. Just wanted to clarify that.

And thieves should just turn themselves in.


(but yes, conceptually you're right)

Realistically, they won't. But ideally, they should. Wouldn't that be a lovely world? Damn Canadians and their happy thoughts... :)

  > And thieves should just turn themselves in.
Countries are made up of many people of differing opinions. If the citizens of a country were all of a single body and mind, then there would be no such thing as a 'political dissident.'

I always find it interesting when the Chinese government does this sort of thing, because it reveals something of their mindset.

In particular, they include two quite different things in their list:

1. Human rights abuse by the government

2. Violence by criminals that the government fails to prevent

So the Chinese government is accusing the US of being neglectful towards law and order, and claiming that its of equivalent severity to inflicting human rights abuses upon them.

I wonder how much they believe that, and how much is just maintaining face?

and Amnesty International and the UN in general does not include ordinary criminals as human rights voilations.

Say what you want about America, but anti-government activists are not kept under house arrest. China does not have the moral high-ground to use this kind of ploy.

My (possibly wrong) assumption is that the primary purpose of this release is to target Chinese people, not to get the rest of the world thinking "holy shit, America sucks".

And so they don't really need the high ground for this to work, they just need to be able to control local propaganda and press..

That said, just because they don't have the moral high ground, it doesn't mean the points they raise aren't perfectly valid (n.b. I haven't actually read their release yet, so I'm not going the opposite direction and saying believe everything they said).

Nope, just random Muslims (Guantanamo)...

Us is a large net positive force in the world, but also the largest one on hypocrisy. Unless you include talking without doing anything of cause.

Bradley Manning.

I don't think Manning could be called the typical activist. His case is a rather extreme example of the kind of discipline military organizations apply to themselves.

Having said that, I'm too uncomfortable with his situation, but I would be that for every Manning there are a hundred Chinese who already got shot.

Violated laws against espionage and is being given due process. If you're going to say Bradley Manning you might as well say Julius Rosenberg or Jonathan Pollard.

Using laws against espionage to convict Manning assumes that he is a spy without any evidence. The evidence is actually quite the contrary: spies do not release information to the public, they give it to the enemy in secret.

His isolation is also overkill. There are more humane ways to make sure that he does not escape the judicial process. But this isn't about what's right; this is about finding ways to punish him without due process.

> The evidence is actually quite the contrary: spies do not release information to the public, they give it to the enemy in secret.

I trust you've read the charges against Bradley Manning and can cite where the UCMJ or the US Code sections listed say that releasing classified information to the public does not constitute espionage or is otherwise not an offense?

Anyway, yes, innocent until proven guilty. Nonetheless, there's little dispute about the facts of the case. And there's no indication that his treatment in any way exceeds or violates the regulations around the ordinary treatment of the accused. Unless you think it's unusual for accused spies to be held in maximum security?

>I trust you've read the charges against Bradley Manning and can cite where the UCMJ or the US Code sections listed say that releasing classified information to the public does not constitute espionage or is otherwise not an offense?

Manning was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. Manning clearly isn't a spy, so he shouldn't be charged based on those laws. Non-espionage activity shouldn't be judged based on espionage laws.

The military law is constructed to be purposefully vague (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_article_(military_law)). Anyone can be charged based on anything, so appealing to the technicality that Manning's case is not explicitly excluded does not matter. Disobeying in general is already illegal.

Good god, are you living under a rock? Read up on your recent US history - people are being imprisoned overseas, American citizens are being assassinated by order of the President...

With the same logic the US human rights report should not contain anything about other countries that respect human rights better than th US. That would lead to the exclusion of most other western countries from the report.

Everyone should be allowed to point out everyone else's human rights violations. Sadly most western countries are not gonna confront the US on this because they don't want to harm relations.

>Say what you want about America, but anti-government activists are not kept under house arrest. China does not have the moral high-ground to use this kind of ploy.

Yes, they are murdered, like Malcom X and Dr. King. Or persecuted by senator McCarthy. Or jailed, like the Chicago 7 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Seven ). Or killed like Ruben Salazar ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rub%C3%A9n_Salazar ) Or shot, like in Wounded Knee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_incident ). Or, burned like in Waco, TX ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waco_siege ).

Or, things that never go out of style, they are beaten to a pulp, entrapped and jailed, etc like tons of African American and/or labour activists.

Some more unfortunate are held in overseas prisons, without due process or any kind of proof, to be proven innocent 5-6 years later, you know those prisons Obama was to close...

China Daily has lighyears of learning to do to produce better PR (propaganda) pieces, at least in English. They will never catch up with US. But they should consider doing what Russians did - hiring bunch of Englishmen to do the spin, like on Russian Television (rt.com) for example. Everyone knows that English accent make anything sound more convincing.

I'll take China's criticism of human rights in the United States as something other than the "tu quoque" fallacy


the day that China has a free and fair national election for the national leadership, covered by an uncensored independent press. In 1989,


it looked like China was close to achieving that kind of political reform, and if it had, the world today would be a much better place. Until the reformers in China finish their difficult task of overcoming a repressive regime, the press in the United States will continue to report criticisms of the United States from all comers, and the net flow of immigration with respect to almost all other countries in the world will continue to be into rather than out of the United States.

44 points?!

I get the US is not perfect, but this propaganda piece would make a lot of my friends in advertising and marketing pale.

I would downvote this if I could. I have no idea what your reference to 44 points means. Is that good? Is that bad? Why do I need to know?

The number of upvotes on the submission.

Anyway, I thought it was amusing. Sort of like the old Soviet Propaganda about how the US is a capitalistic wasteland of suffering. [0]

[0]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8OkqSvw7Mw

It was the total upvotes the article had when I wrote my comment. I found that rather surprising.

I know what the number is ffs.. I just have no context. You were surprised at the votes... Why? You just showed surprise without any explanation.

No difference. USA, China - the same tyranny.

didn't they do this last year, after the US released a report...on itself?

So is this an annual thing now?

Pot, meet kettle?

To everyone shouting "hypocrisy": the primary focus should be on on real problems in the US that need to be fixed, not on China's hypocrisy. Criticism should be taken seriously on account of its merit, not on whether the one giving it is perfect.

Think about what the policy of not taking criticism seriously when the criticizer is hypocritical would lead to. How many people do you know who are absolutely perfect and completely unhypocritical? Most would say no one, but nearly everyone is going to agree that a perfectly unhypocritical person is at least very rare. So if you won't accept criticism except from perfect people, then that's tantamount to not accepting criticism at all. And is that a good policy? No.

Something something heal thyself.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact