GUEST COLUMNIST By Joseph H.P. Golwa
One of the greatest deficits in communication and development the world continues to experience is the place and role of “Rumour-mill industry”. Rumours and propaganda have inflamed passions, escalated tensions and violent conflicts throughout human history. Even as recent as with the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, propaganda or disinformation about the virus and against China have thrived.This, coming particularly from some western media and states,is worrisome and misleading.
Xinjiang region with very significant population of ethnic minorities in China is currently in the eyes of the storm, regarding alleged’ human rights abuses. Its recent spark spread by an Uyghur woman, Tursunay Ziyawudun whose claims of systemic sexual abuses on her and others in vocational educational centers in Xinjiang made sensational news. These spurious allegations, China has considered to be fake and unsubstantiated. We raise some few posers from this: The unprecedented global changes, including disease pandemics, violent conflicts, terrorism, rise in crime wave have increased the complexity of human rights issues. Thus,on the question of human rights assessment, who is to cast the first stone, especially also at a glass house? Will that not be a show of righteous indignation, and a case of the proverbial attempt to “remove a speck in someone’s eyes while having a plank in your own eyes? Like the Chinese, I believe that since human rights are universal, its essence and philosophy should always have a people-centered approach so as to uphold both its universality and particularity. This means whose perspective human rights are viewed and analyzed within the context of a given country matter. Such a perspective must abide by principles of the UN charter, carried out on the basis of equality and mutual respect. This is the only way to inspire collective efforts in promoting the sound development of the international human rights cause.
What then are the Xinjiang related issues warranting prompt response and denial by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi at the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in February 2021? They are, that some media and governments have accused China of human rights violations in areas such as genocide; existence of detention centers and forced labour against ethnic minorities in the region. The perpetrators, of this disinformation are black mailing China’s handling of the Uyghur minority tribe in the region. Wang Yi’s refutal are based on concrete facts, and anyone who claims to respect their values must respect the facts. For instance, China’s people-centered vision of human right is very apt, authoritative and in tune with current national realities of China and the international community. If it were not so, China’s role would not have been so acknowledged as to have been elected as member of the UN human rights council for the term 2021-2023. The people centered vision of human rights which China advocates concerns the right to subsistence and development as the primary basic human rights. This stance is important and necessary step as it focuses on promoting the comprehensive and coordinated development of economic, social, health, cultural rights as well as civil political rights. It is therefore not surprising that when China made history by end of year 2020 in eradicating absolute poverty, Xinjiang, Tibet, Ningde and other areas with ethnic minorities equally benefited. There was never segregation or discrimination against any ethnic minorities, including with regards to its response to Covid-19 and policy of targeted poverty eradication programme. To any neutral analyst therefore, these incontrovertible facts belie the propagandists and anti-China voices who are alleging human rights violations against China. Further evidence attesting to Chinas positive role in promoting human rights for all its citizens is how Xinjiang’s aggregate economy has grown over 200 times within the past 60years; its per capita GDP rising by nearly 40times; life expectancy of Xinjiang growing from 30 to 72 years. Infact, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang which is being rumored to be facing possible ‘extinction via genocide’ is witnessing significant population growth, at the rate of 25% from 10.7 million in 2010 to 12.72 million in 2018 alone. This rate is said to be higher than 22.4% of all ethnic minorities and much higher than that of Han population which is 2%. Certainly, a people facing genocide cannot be experiencing this phenomenal growth.
Given these facts about full enjoyment of their rights and development, no propaganda about China violating right of Xinjiang minorities can stand the test of time and history. Even with regards to China’s war on terror, it has been very careful to implement its strategies within the principles and spirit of the UN global terrorism strategy. The outcome is that Xinjiang region is now very secure with no violent terrorist case for more than four years in a row.China’s deliberate policy concerning the unity of the highly valued minorities has existed since the founding of China over 70 years ago. Mao Zedong in the 1960sarticulated this integration philosophy when he stated,“……the unity of our various ethnic groups, these are the basic guarantees for the sure triumph of our cause.’’China believes that it is in the leadership promoting the common prosperity of the minorities that it would be best valued and strengthened. This is for the obvious reasons that the minority and regional groupings was very crucial to stocking revolutionary fires in the regions, as well as helping in the preservation and expansion of China’s forces during the most difficult years of their history. The unique cultural tradition of ethnic minorities indeed form an ethical and moral wealth that has been built up over the past generations, as driving force for development. Treating Xinjiang region and other minorities on the basis of equity, justice as a right has therefore always been an obligation, a duty of historical significance for the leadership of China to always uphold. This perhaps explains why Chinastands out as a model in best practices in managing ethnic diversities in the world, worthy of emulation.
Why then the campaign of columny, about China’s human rights achievements? It is because the accusers wrongly see China from their own prism and narrow perspective for political manipulation under the cover of human rights. They have long believed, though falsely,that they have the monopoly for addressing human rights issues. Yet, human rights are universal and cannot be the monopoly of a select few to use it to police others. Secondly,China’s human rights achievements and records at home and abroad has always stood as a mirror reflecting and challenging their consciences as to their human right atrocities.
Xinjiang is a classical example of a rural people transformed through inclusivity and demonstration of good governance expressed in state ability to effectively manage, its diversities, to debunk international conspiracy and blackmail. Xinjiang represents success through commitment and willingness of a government, leadership and resilient people who will not be deterred from achieving their set vision. This shows how the power of focused inclusive governance can lead to great achievements in the midst of black mail. It is also therefore not surprising that with this commitment and resilience, over 1.3 billion Chinese people are always working hard to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, to build a human community with a shared future. Chinese will not easily forget the role of Edgar Snow, a non-communist US journalist of the Yan’an days who introduced the Communist Party of China to the world. He did this in the most truthful, unbiased and professional way and succeeded in forging and enhancing understanding between the Chinese and American peoples at that time. In this century when multilateralism is desirous as basis for conduct of international relations, a better understanding of each other on a mutual bases is very important. This can best be done not only by journalists,but also individuals, states and institutions, deliberately acknowledging good governance and positive achievement recorded by each other. The world needs truthful, objective and fair stories about each other that can stand the scrutiny of history, not black mail and rumours. China’s feats, good governance model and human rights achievements need to be better understood by the world, just as China also needs to continuously have a better understanding of the rest of the world.
May we all be an Edgar Snow of our times so as to collectively promote and protect human rights, good governance for a better shared future of mankind.
Professor Joseph H.P. Golwa is the
Former Director General Institute
For Peace and Conflict Resolution, and a Senior Fellow, Center for ChinaStudies, (CCS) Abuja.