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The US Pot describes the Chinese Kettle, and the Kettle replies in kind
April 11, 2011 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Recently, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton released the 35th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, covering the legal status of human rights in more than 190 countries and territories around the world. This year, Clinton had tough words for China, amid crackdowns on dissent. In response, China provides a profile of the US, pointing out actions related to Wikileaks, civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prisoner abuse scandals related to counterterrorism initiatives.

China presented a similar profiles for 2009 (previously), 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 (in 3 parts: part 1, part 2, part 3), 2001, 2000, 1999...

The US index of reports, back through 1999.

History: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 by a vote of 48 in favor, 0 against, with 8 abstentions (Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine and The USSR [the five Eastern Bloc states],Yugoslavia, South Africa and Saudi Arabia).
posted by filthy light thief (48 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
What we need is a human rights arms race.

"We're going to give all of our political prisoners civil trials."
"Yeah, well, we're going to enact single-payer healthcare."
"Oh, yeah? We're going to establish a guaranteed minimum income, and raise tax rates on the wealthy!"
"Bring it on!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:50 PM on April 11, 2011 [71 favorites]


Those "190 countries and territories" are missing one conspicuous entry: the United States. I think our government could use a little introspection now and then.
posted by theodolite at 12:52 PM on April 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's as though two convicts start talking to one another and one of them says to the other "How dare you point out my murder conviction, you're in here for beating you wife."
posted by inthe80s at 12:53 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vote Wife Beater 2012
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:55 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think it's deeper and weider than that. The claim implicit in China's adopting tit-for-tat as a response strategy is that it is impossible to run a large country without committing human rights violations.
posted by avianism at 12:55 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on earth has a rate that is higher (10 Facts About Crime in the United States that Will Blow Your Mind, Beforitsnews.com)."

what
posted by rusty at 12:57 PM on April 11, 2011


"It took a year of painstaking research and endless draft revisions, but the reports on Egypt and Tunisia are finally finished!"
posted by theodolite at 12:59 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem. We're both culpable - doesn't make China any less culpable.
posted by muddgirl at 1:10 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


How do you say pot.kettle.black in Mandarin? Cuz basically that's what China's response is.
posted by spicynuts at 1:15 PM on April 11, 2011


For all the many abuses in the US, there is often some little lawyer or citizen who spends a lot of energy looking into what he or she thinks a mistake, a miscarriage of justice, an evil perpetrated against a citizen (or there is 60 minutes)...and often a wrong is righted. In China, two wongs don't make a white. Or at least the govt says Nothing or Case Closed. Or no case. Or simply shut up or you're next.
posted by Postroad at 1:19 PM on April 11, 2011


Ad hominem. We're both culpable - doesn't make China any less culpable.

No, it doesn't, but the problem with being the world's moral tut-tutter is that we set up a higher standard that we consistently fail to live up to while chiding others for not doing so. No one respects the polemics of an adulterous preacher.

Or, to put it another way: we're both culpable, and it's worth having our own culpability pointed out also.
posted by Errant at 1:20 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is typical for countries like China. Their argument: You're not perfect, so we're basically equivalent. Quite the logical leap, like comparing apples and holocausts.
posted by Edgewise at 1:21 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't think China's trying to say that they are less culpable by issuing their report. I think what they're doing is calling into question the idea that the US has some kind of moral high ground upon which to stand and criticize every other country in the world without any self-examination at all.

Whether it's necessarily China's place to issue such a report on the US is equally debatable, but I'm glad someone is putting together something on the one country that is left out of the US report.
posted by hippybear at 1:21 PM on April 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


美国人民生活处在水深火烈之中!
posted by Abiezer at 1:25 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


hippybear, that's precisely what China is trying to say. This is nothing more than a tu quoque response, and that the USA's report is thus worth less and is less valid (or invalid).
posted by 1adam12 at 1:29 PM on April 11, 2011


Where does the "USA report is worth less" part come from, though? I don't see that leap being made, except perhaps in the minds of people here.

I see it less as discrediting and more as completing.
posted by hippybear at 1:32 PM on April 11, 2011


Don't start none, won't be none Hillary.
posted by dirtylittlecity at 1:33 PM on April 11, 2011


Or, to put it another way: we're both culpable, and it's worth having our own culpability pointed out also.

Well sure, but if China cares about human rights, why don't they make it a condition for, say, buying up US debt? The only time they bring it up is when we do, because they don't actually give a fuck. Which is sort of Clinton's point in the first place.

Where does the "USA report is worth less" part come from, though? I don't see that leap being made, except perhaps in the minds of people here.

I see it less as discrediting and more as completing.


It's absolutely meant to discredit our report, or at least to imply that a robust global economy requires breaking a few million eggs. Again, if China actually cared about US human rights violations they wouldn't use it as a bargaining tool. Just as if we actually cared about Chinese human rights violations, we wouldn't use it as a bargaining tool.
posted by muddgirl at 1:47 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the 5th link ...

The United States exercised lax control on the already rampant gun ownership. Reuters reported on November 10, 2010 that the United States ranks first in the world in terms of the number of privately-owned guns. Some 90 million people own an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, which has a population of about 300 million. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 28, 2010 that the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms that can not be violated by state and local governments, thus extending the Americans' rights to own a gun for self-defense purposes to the entire country (The Washington Post, June 29, 2010).

Dear China--

For your consideration, here in the US we have a popular little saying by some world famous guy and it goes like this: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Sincerely,

--The US
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:48 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States.

This suggests something more like 1 in 28.
posted by electroboy at 1:51 PM on April 11, 2011


Well sure, but if China cares about human rights, why don't they make it a condition for, say, buying up US debt? The only time they bring it up is when we do, because they don't actually give a fuck. Which is sort of Clinton's point in the first place.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the evidence is fairly clear that China doesn't give a fuck, and I think Clinton's/the US's point is valid. I just think China's point is also valid, which is to say, the US's record in this area is pretty bad and getting worse. I don't think China especially cares that the US is becoming more egregious, but I do, so I'm glad when these sorts of things enter the official record. To your second point, I'm not sure the US really cares all that much either, but I'm still glad when they point out other people's shit.
posted by Errant at 1:57 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder when we decided that our moral high ground was worth less than our ability to infringe on human rights.

I was going to say Bush, but I think it happened before that.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2011


I recently read A Crime So Monstrous about slavery in the modern era. The State Department has a "Trafficking in Persons" department. One responsibility it has is to "grade" countries on their efforts on reducing slavery ad human trafficking. Tier 2 is for countries that mostly have made trafficking illegal but don't necessarily do a very good job of stopping it from occurring. The author quotes the former head of TIP as saying that if it were at all politically possible, he would have put the US in Tier 2. There are many countries that should be in Tier 3 (which triggers automatic sanctions) or Tier 2 (which supposedly is more diplomatic pressure) but for political reasons are not placed there (or the country is given a sanction waver). This includes diverse countries such as the Netherlands, India and obviously China.
posted by R343L at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States.

This suggests something more like 1 in 28.


Depends on how you define crime. Have you seen grocery prices lately?
posted by hippybear at 2:09 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I am the one to point this out, considering the repetition of this was the bane of my introduction to Mefi all those years ago.

One big distinction is that it is possible to discuss the contemporary human rights record of the US in the US, however the reciprocal cannot be said of China. Admittedly it is not as mainstream an activity as one might like, but by the same token one doesn't gain dissident stats just by bringing it up in conversation.
posted by asok at 2:09 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dear China--

For your consideration, here in the US we have a popular little saying by some world famous guy and it goes like this: "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Sincerely,

--The US


Wouldn't that be more like the Pol Pot calling the kettle black?
posted by luminol at 2:11 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear China,

We could care less how many guns the United States have.

Sincerely,
Tibet

cc: Falun Gong
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:14 PM on April 11, 2011


One up style trash talking on an International level will very likely create new jobs.
posted by straight_razor at 2:17 PM on April 11, 2011


Wouldn't that be more like the Pol Pot calling the kettle black?

The quote is from Chairman Mao.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:25 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


United States: Look at all these fucking countries violating human rights!
Other Countries: Yeah but look at your own fucking violations too!
US: That's different. We actually give a fuck what other people think of us when we do those things. Plus, they're necessary. Also, war is hell.
OC: Well, what are you doing to change it?
US: We're vigorously pointing out exactly how much of a fuck other countries should be giving about what we think of them.
OC: Why the fuck should we care what you think? What makes you the world's fucking moral authority?
US: All these fucking guns and bombs do, so shut the fuck up.
posted by SpaceBass at 2:26 PM on April 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


(10 Facts About Crime in the United States that Will Blow Your Mind, Beforitsnews.com)

rusty: what

Actual link to a weird bloggy collection of True Facts! about the US (weird that there is the option for readers to click "FACT" or "FICTION" and vote on the article). The poster is The Economic Collapse Blog, a self-described attorney, blogger, Christian, writer, speaker, activist, and lover of fluffy puppies!


hippybear: Depends on how you define crime. Have you seen grocery prices lately?

Are you saying our prices are "criminally low," or that they have risen to outrageous levels? Food commodities prices may be skyrocketing, but many in the US are buffered by the fact that most of our food is processed, so there are layers between the consumer and the basic products to absorb much of the change in price.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:40 PM on April 11, 2011


Wouldn't that be more like the Pol Pot calling the kettle black?

No, While he relied on support from China while in power, he drew alot of his ideology in France and the soviet block and support from Vietnam. Sar did not need chinese military aides to teach him to become paranoid and destroy everything.
posted by clavdivs at 2:43 PM on April 11, 2011




Wouldn't that be more like the Pol Pot calling the kettle black?

The quote is from Chairman Mao.


The collective doesn't allow me to google, comrade.
posted by luminol at 2:46 PM on April 11, 2011


It's absolutely meant to discredit our report...

Yep. And it will work, to some extent. Given that China is a country where the government cares not at all about civil liberties: why shouldn't they throw out this kind of argument? We opened the door for them. Deal with it, Hillary.
posted by steambadger at 3:10 PM on April 11, 2011


Are you saying our prices are "criminally low," or that they have risen to outrageous levels?

I'm saying that 80% lean hamburger is over twice as expensive now as it was 3 years ago, beer has also more than doubled in the past 3 years, bread is about 1.5x more, potato chips are about 3x more expensive... And that's just the unit price. That doesn't even take into account the grocery shrink ray. Ice cream sold in 1.75quart or 1.5quart packages instead of half-gallons... Yogurt suddenly being in 6oz containers instead of 1cup/8oz containers, etc across the spectrum of foods.

I don't know much about the processed foods, actually. I buy meat and veggies and flour and rice and cook from scratch most nights, so I really can only speak to what I do buy or what I've observed in the stores.

Mostly it was a vaguely jokey remark.
posted by hippybear at 3:22 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, While he relied on support from China while in power, he drew alot of his ideology in France and the soviet block and support from Vietnam.

Actually, Vietnam was his mortal enemy and it was they who got rid of him, much to the fury of the United States and Britain, who supported the Khmer Rouge during the 80s as a result.
posted by moorooka at 3:30 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


yes, but not until the sino-soviet split. Sar was trained in Vietnam and recieved aid from them before he seized power. And the U.S. supported (defacto) the DK will past the eighties.
posted by clavdivs at 3:39 PM on April 11, 2011


So other countries are questioning the US policy of "Do as I say not as I do." Quelle surprise.
posted by Splunge at 4:07 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm saying that 80% lean hamburger is over twice as expensive now

One thing egregious to me is the shift to selling all produce by the pound. The $1.50 per head cauliflower is now $1.99/lb. Who ever thought that frozen vegs would be substantially -less- than raw? or even -canned-?

Another factor where I shop is the shell-game of constantly shifting prices. This week $2.50, next week $1.89 cents, week after that $3.10 ... Are they trying to confuse us? or react quickly to wildly vacillating markets? (doubt that). I've adapted by stocking up on frequent purchases when prices are low.

Then there's single/no-family-anymore tax. One pound of something is $4.59/lb, eight pounds of something is $2.79. Same exact thing. Packaging is -that- expensive? doubt it.

How to tie this in with China? Hmmm. I bet that $1-2-a pound rice would be as laughably high in China as $4.49/100 tea would be in the UK. But hey, they're cornering the market on renewable-energy production, so rice-inflation is on the way in that worksector.
posted by Twang at 5:56 PM on April 11, 2011


Can't say I'm surprised about this, especially after that retired veteran was forcefully dragged out of a speech Hillary Clinton gave on the value of freedom of speech for having silently protested the speaker. Bringing it up to eleven on the "this can't possibly be true, can it?" meter was the fact that, while being dragged from the room, he asked, "So this is America?"

It's cool and all that we're all fond of pointing out China's various human rights abuses (which I am by no means trying to suggest aren't an issue), but for every Tibet there's the genocide of nearly every native group in North America to suggest that maybe the US isn't always on the Good Guys side, either.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:37 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


How charming. The town murderer is preaching about human rights, in the very moment he's murdering. Maybe the U.S. should quit engaging in murderous wars - several at a time - just to lower the level of screaming hypocrisy. I wonder, which country has been responsible for more civilian deaths in the past decade - China or the U.S.? Or is it down to "but we kill like this, and they kill like this". Hillary should be made to read her report aloud - in Guantanamo, so the inmates can get some education about human rights.
posted by VikingSword at 11:54 PM on April 11, 2011


Nevar saw that comin'!
posted by orthogonality at 12:41 AM on April 12, 2011


Perhaps the good old tu quoque pissing contest is not the best model for engaging in debate about human rights violations.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 4:45 AM on April 12, 2011


> One big distinction is that it is possible to discuss the contemporary human rights record of the US in the US

Tell that to Bradley Manning.

You can discuss human rights at your dinner table or political science class in China. Just like in the US, it is only a problem if you effectively agitate for change. Same same, but different.

> if China cares about human rights, why don't they make it a condition for, say, buying up US debt?

Oh, I'm sure they will - once the US stops buying cheap plastic shit from the People's Republic to demonstrate its deep concern about their human rights abuses. A better question may be - if the US is so concerned about human rights abuses in China, why are they being allowed to buy US debt and wield enormous power over our economy and geopolitical policy in the first place.

Oh yeah, I know the answer. Cash is king.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 5:22 AM on April 12, 2011


hahahahaha pwned.

hilary clinton, why does she bother? wasn't she caught out lying before the election? and she stands there pontificating on china's wrongs? what was it that jewish bloke said, many years ago? take the plank out of your own eye before removing the splinter from your brothers.
posted by marienbad at 9:06 AM on April 12, 2011


3/28/11 The Secretary of State on Face the Nation:
There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer.

4/8/11 State Department Human Rights Report: Syria:
The government systematically repressed citizens' ability to change their government. The security forces committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, caused politically motivated disappearances, and tortured and physically abused prisoners and detainees with impunity. Security forces arrested and detained individuals under poor conditions without due process. Lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detention remained a serious problem. The judiciary was not independent. There were political prisoners and detainees, and during the year the government sentenced to prison several high-profile members of the human rights and civil society communities. The government violated citizens' privacy rights. The government imposed severe restrictions on civil liberties: freedoms of speech and press, including Internet and academic freedom; freedoms of assembly and of association, including severe restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and freedoms of religion and movement. An atmosphere of corruption pervaded the government. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did sexual exploitation, increasingly of Iraqi refugees, including minors. The government discriminated against minorities, particularly Kurds, and severely restricted workers' rights.
posted by Slap Factory at 2:23 PM on April 12, 2011


80/20 ground beef. 3.17 LBS. 7.92$

wheres the beef.
posted by clavdivs at 3:24 PM on April 12, 2011


It's worth pointing out that at 3% inflation, prices double about every 25 years whether there's a secret conspiracy or not.
posted by electroboy at 5:02 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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