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China: "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012"
April 29, 2013 10:04 AM   Subscribe

"The Human Rights Record of the U.S. in 2012 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the U.S. to people across the world by simply laying down some facts." Chinadaily.com, among others, has the full text of the report published by The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China. Last year's report on MeFi.
posted by dreinn (49 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Chinese, a great bunch of lads.
posted by Damienmce at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


*crossing fingers* I got a good feelin' about this, guys!
posted by tittergrrl at 10:11 AM on April 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


II.

On Civil and Political Rights

The recent years have seen closer surveillance of American citizens by the U.S. government. In the country, abuse of suspects and jail inmates is common occurrence, and equal suffrage enjoyable by citizens continues to be undermined.

The U.S. government continues to step up surveillance of ordinary Americans, restricting and reducing the free sphere of the American society to a considerable extent, and seriously violating the freedom of citizens. The U.S. congress approved a bill in 2012 that authorizes the government to conduct warrantless wiretapping and electronic communications monitoring, a move that violates people's rights to privacy. According to a report carried on May 4, 2012 by the CNET website, the FBI general counsel' s office has drafted a proposed law requiring that social-networking websites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly (news.cnet.com, May 4, 2012). Documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union on September 27, 2012, reveal that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring American's electronic communications. Between 2009 and 2011, the Justice Department' s combined number of original orders for "pen registers" and "trap and trace devices" used to spy on phones increased by 60 percent, from 23,535 in 2009 to 37,616 in 2011.
This is coming from the country that prohibits the use of 2-factor VPN authentication, with the threat of jail time? Oh, do proceed...
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:12 AM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


What's Mandarin for "tu quoque"?
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:18 AM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't understand the animosity people feel towards the Chinese government over these reports. Nobody, and no government, is perfect. But having an outside view point out your faults is SUPER useful. The fact that it's so easy to do (even by a country that you might view as getting a worse human rights grade) should be troubling not eye-roll inducing.
posted by Phredward at 10:19 AM on April 29, 2013 [34 favorites]


This is true propaganda, of the unsubtle kind you see less and less (as opposed to more sophisticated versions). A nice mix of random real problems that we discuss on MeFi, made-up things, and stuff like this:

In the U.S., elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens. Political contributions had, to a great extent, influenced the electoral procedures and policy direction. During the 2012 presidential election, the voter turnout was only 57.5

There was serious sex, racial and religious discrimination in the U.S. Indigenous people suffered serious racial discrimination and their poverty rate doubled the national average. A movie produced by a U.S. director and aired online was deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, sparking protests by the Muslims worldwide.

posted by blahblahblah at 10:22 AM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bruce Schnieier: Twenty five countries are using the FinSpy surveillance software package (also called FinFisher) to spy on their own citizens:
The list of countries with servers running FinSpy is now Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Britain, Brunei, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Vietnam.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:22 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone in the West even care what the Chinese state media thinks about any topic whatsoever? At least Russian state media can be interesting from time to time.

The US, Japan, The Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia and Brunei won't really think twice about this, nor should they.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:22 AM on April 29, 2013


I see that China's efforts to produce homegrown trolling technology has been a rousing success.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:24 AM on April 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


So this would be China doing the standard "we're not so different, you and I" supervillain monologue, then?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:25 AM on April 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


You know you're reading a piece of propaganda when it uses the kitchen sink approach to enumerating problems. Guantanamo is undoubtedly a black mark on America's human rights record, surely, but mass shootings are not perpetrated by the government. They're not human rights abuses. I would also argue that, say, increased health problem rates among minorities are not human rights abuses in the same way that, say, drug sentencing that unfairly targets crack users is.

I don't understand the animosity people feel towards the Chinese government over these reports. Nobody, and no government, is perfect. But having an outside view point out your faults is SUPER useful.

Except none of it is really China's point of view, it mostly cites US news sources or blogs. Which is pretty funny on some level, because it's basically China's government saying that the trustworthy sources of information are US news outlets. Which we know isn't true, of course (did you watch CNN during the Boston manhunt?), but at least they're not state-run.
posted by axiom at 10:26 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't matter whether it's the pot or the kettle pointing fingers if all they're talking about is their color.
posted by Revvy at 10:27 AM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the animosity people feel towards the Chinese government over these reports. Nobody, and no government, is perfect. But having an outside view point out your faults is SUPER useful. The fact that it's so easy to do (even by a country that you might view as getting a worse human rights grade) should be troubling not eye-roll inducing.


I was hoping to get INB4 "The fallability of the source doesn't make this report something to be ignored..." but I failed.

The fact of the matter is the source IS the concern here. Google it. You'll see Amnesty International reports, and dozens of other sourced evaluations of the United States' human rights record. And it will all be fairly accurate.

You know why?

Because the United States' government, for all of its faults, puts out fairly accurate information. The fact it gets caught in the spin cycle of the media washing machine from hell is a different topic, but you'll note a lot of reports directly cite the US's own reports for their data. For China, independent reports have to cite secondary resources because of the remarkable corruption and misinformation put out by China's propaganda machine. True, the US has propaganda, and there are some human rights concerns, but only a small percentage derives directly from government policies. The majority is cultural and socioeconomic.

I welcome any report from many different sources to give us a better, objective look at ourselves. The reason I scoff at this one is because behind it isn't a general concern for Americans, like other reports. It's a deflective motion to try and convince the sheltered citizens behind the great firewall that the little information that trickles through meets a second line of defense in each of their minds.

TL;DR - A cursory glance is about what this deserves, unless it is the first time you've read a report of it's kind. If such is the case, please do not use this as your primary source.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:27 AM on April 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


The Chinese would do well to steal some propaganda technology from North Korea. Without the hyperbole, anti-western screeds just don't sing.
posted by three blind mice at 10:30 AM on April 29, 2013


Perhaps the choice to cite western sources was made because it was written for a western audience that reflexively dismisses any information that doesn't come fom its own media machine?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:32 AM on April 29, 2013


I don't understand the animosity people feel towards the Chinese government over these reports. Nobody, and no government, is perfect. But having an outside view point out your faults is SUPER useful. The fact that it's so easy to do (even by a country that you might view as getting a worse human rights grade) should be troubling not eye-roll inducing.

Because these reports are designed specifically to mock and lower the impact of the US State Department's human rights report on China

Because they are cynical efforts to cover up human rights abuses by saying "everyone does it"

Because they are random scrapings of the web listing Bad Things, rather than a serious effort to investigate human rights in the US. Everything here comes from the US media, it isn't like there is a real new contribution.

Because it is blatant propaganda aimed at Chinese citizens, and not improving American policy.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:32 AM on April 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


What's Mandarin for "tu quoque"?

Dunno, but I would definitely take a nickel for all the "how can China criticize us when they..." comments in some of those links. And in this thread.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:38 AM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't understand the animosity people feel towards the Chinese government over these reports. Nobody, and no government, is perfect. But having an outside view point out your faults is SUPER useful. The fact that it's so easy to do (even by a country that you might view as getting a worse human rights grade) should be troubling not eye-roll inducing.

That's because the primary purpose of the report is to hide Chinese human rights violations.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:48 AM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Doktor Zed: "What's Mandarin for 'tu quoque'?"

以五十步笑百步 Yǐ wǔshí bù xiào bǎi bù gets pretty close.

But still, I think this report is a good reminder that a) the US isn't spotless with regard to human rights and b) the US too often comes across as saying it is the world's moral exemplar.
posted by jiawen at 10:50 AM on April 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


From my understanding, the Chinese government effectively recognized the concept of human rights as A Thing Which Can Exist in 1978, three years behind the Soviet Union.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:58 AM on April 29, 2013


Last year's report on MeFi.

I thought, for a moment, that last year the Chinese government had released a human rights report on MetaFilter. That will teach the mods to silence all those dissidents!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:02 AM on April 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Lots of other people have pointed out that this "report" is propaganda.

It's definitely true that the US isn't spotless and isn't the world's moral exemplar.

But reports like this one aren't useful for anything to anybody except the Chinese government.

For reports that ARE good, useful reminders that the US isn't spotless, there are sources with a less dictatorship-serving agenda: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ACLU, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Federation for Human Rights.
posted by Sleeper at 11:05 AM on April 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


So this would be China doing the standard "we're not so different, you and I" supervillain monologue, then?

Not even that. This is just a volley of formulaic retaliation for American criticisms of China. This is the propaganda equivalent of a kindergarten argument: "I'm stupid? You're stupid!"

This is a pretty disappointing read, though, because it's so... amateur. It would merit, perhaps, a B- in a freshman journalism class. No original investigation, no original analysis, just a bunch of stuff clipped from Western news. Each paragraph begins with an exaggerated claim ("apartheid is rampant in America!"), and then flails around to support the claim with a couple of anecdotes.

It's not hard to criticize the U.S. on human rights grounds. There's no need to propagandize or exaggerate; the problems are egregious enough without that. Our prison industrial complex is a national shame. Our prosecution of the "war on terror" has inflicted huge trauma abroad and at home. Civil liberties are in a dismal state of erosion, begun by Bush and enthusiastically continued by Obama. Our political apparatus has been captured by big business interests and often acts against the best interests of citizens. The "war on drugs" is a tragic farce. Economic inequality is increasing at an alarming rate.

I hope next year they put a little more talent into it.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:14 AM on April 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is just a volley of formulaic retaliation for American criticisms of China. This is the propaganda equivalent of a kindergarten argument: "I'm stupid? You're stupid!"

Exactly. China's mistake was in letting the U.S. go first. If they had gone first we could talk about the U.S.'s pathetic attempt to deflect attention away from its worsening civil rights situation, widespread gun violence and foreign wars of choice.

This is true propaganda, of the unsubtle kind you see less and less (as opposed to more sophisticated versions). A nice mix of random real problems that we discuss on MeFi, made-up things, and stuff like this:

I definitely suggest you read the American report. To dismiss the Chinese report because it is rank propaganda but to take the American report seriously is probably an error.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:28 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies,

As many others here have said, there are numerous, numerous organizations do excellent work examining the record of the US:

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ACLU, the In Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ACLU, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International

You're just being silly and making absurd false equivalences. This counter-report is specifically and nakedly propaganda, and literally nothing more. It has no value, no original insights; it's not even an actual attempt at such. This isn't some brave example of speaking Truth to Power.

I definitely suggest you read the American report. To dismiss the Chinese report because it is rank propaganda but to take the American report seriously is probably an error.

Really? How so? Specifically how so, not in this vague "maybe YOU are the true blind sheeple here!" mode you've got going on.

People seem to fall into this weird dichotomy where either you accept this as a legitimate report or you're a jingoistic fool who refuses to believe the US has any problems. We all know and accept that the US has many, many sins to answer for. There are people and groups doing good work monitoring the US, and junk like this actually makes it all the harder because it lets people lump in actual criticism with this nonsense and dismiss it all.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:35 AM on April 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


This report is garbage. China absolutely produces this junk to distract from its own human rights record, and comparing the two countries on this point is a sad joke. You couldn't prepare a report like this on China using Chinese sources, because your sources would be in jail, as would you if you lived in China. The Chinese report on the US, meanwhile, tells us things we already know, things our own government is already saying about itself, because for all of our transparency problems we're generally not throwing reporters and political activists into black hole prisons and mental hospitals, and China does.

There are other countries and organizations whose criticism of the USA deserves to be taken seriously. Those reports are researched and written by serious people who aren't screwing around and citing internet articles like 8th graders might, and who aren't writing because they think tu quoque is a legitimate form of argument.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:47 AM on April 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Good points, Sangermaine.

Also: Does the Chinese government put out human rights reports for every country in the world, or just the US? The US government (despite its many flaws and failings) has for a long time been doing human rights reports on just about every country where human rights is a concern. That's an important difference between what China's doing here and the what the US is doing.

I wish the US had an in-house independent group like the Government Accountability Office that served as a human rights watchdog that the government would have to listen to. (Not that it would necessarily make any difference. There was that report a couple weeks ago showing that the US government has indisputably engaged in torture, but it made barely a kerfluffle.)
posted by Sleeper at 11:48 AM on April 29, 2013


Americans are the most heavily armed people in the world per capita.

We have a saying here, by some famous guy who once said "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Darned if I can remember his name, though ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:26 PM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


There was that report a couple weeks ago showing that the US government has indisputably engaged in torture, but it made barely a kerfluffle.

That's because the results of that review surprised precisely nobody.
posted by axiom at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2013


because for all of our transparency problems we're generally not throwing reporters and political activists into black hole prisons and mental hospitals

Yeah, but that's mostly because we closed all the state mental hospitals in the '80s to save money. Which if you ask me is a human rights violation. As is my stepping in human feces as a consequence. Is that in this report by the way?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:36 PM on April 29, 2013


It will be in next year's, now.
posted by history_denier at 2:01 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


But having an outside view point out your faults is SUPER useful. The fact that it's so easy to do (even by a country that you might view as getting a worse human rights grade) should be troubling not eye-roll inducing.

No, it's so definitely not "SUPER useful". Are they really telling us something that we don't already know? That would be useful. I'd love to know what concrete value you feel that this report has. What changes will it spark?

No, this is pure propaganda from a party with zero credibility. I'm guessing that this is mostly aimed at the Chinese population, with a few bones thrown to allies and sundry parties who would like to be able to cite "serious" papers for ammunition against the US. Taking this report seriously strikes me as a very naive thing to do, unless you are just interested in bashing the US.

I have no doubt that much of the report is dead correct. But "useful"? How??? If anything, it would have the opposite effect that you hope. Don't believe me? Imagine what would happen to a bill meant to address inequities in our prison system if it were to cite this "report". It's easy to vaguely cite the benefit of "external points of view," but if that point of view isn't conveying anything new and comes from a bunch of hypocrites with an agenda to create a false equivalency with their own sins, I can't see the value.
posted by Edgewise at 2:03 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]



That's because the results of that review surprised precisely nobody.


So why are Americans even bothering to discuss the validity of the Chinese report, since egregious US human rights abuses have been independently confirmed? It seems like Americans have more control over American human rights abuses than they do over Chinese ones so, regardless of whether the Chinese report is spurious, Americans, who are "unsurprised" by their own government's record as torturers, should be spending their grar on US torture, right?

What, except for it's truth or falsity, is important about the Chinese report? If its allegations are true, then, regardless of their propaganda value for the Chinese government (which should be nil in terms of convincing a Chinese citizen of anything -- US human rights abuses don't reflect on China, a priori, one way or another), then they are useful information for the US public (who probably know most of the stuff anyway, from less dubious sources). Why are we (US Mefites) talking about this, and not the acknowledged human rights of the US government, over which we have (a tiny nonzero amount of) control?

Most governments, and all societies, have human rights skeletons in their closet. It is one of the worst facts about being social creatures. Handwringing about whose are worse is pretty masturbatory, and giving quarter on the subject to one's own government is, given the easy availability of evidence of abuse of people by power, a form of complicity. A supporter of the Chinese government is a supporter of black jails and political imprisonment and frequent capital punishment and mass censorship. A supporter of the US government is a supporter of extrajudicial killing and the War on Drugs and "enhanced interrogation techniques" and mass surveillance. A supporter of either government is a supporter of trade policy that imposes shitty working conditions on lots of Chinese and shitty work prospects on lots of Americans. The only competition between the Chinese and US people on this subject should be about who can take their government to task more loudly. Calling "hypocrisy" doesn't advance this goal, so it is a waste of breath.
posted by kengraham at 2:10 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


John 8:7 Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Trick question: How can we apply it here?
posted by VikingSword at 2:15 PM on April 29, 2013


Indeed it's only useful insofar as it is verifiably true, and for that you need credible sources. This report includes lots of true things, but the only way to know that is to check it against non-propaganda sources (from which it was certainly derived). It's kind of like Wikipedia that way: in the end it tends to be more or less right overall, but the only way to be sure of any given fact is to check the citations, so it's really only useful as an index.

So yes, having an outside viewpoint is useful. Just not this outside viewpoint.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on April 29, 2013



So yes, having an outside viewpoint is useful. Just not this outside viewpoint.


Right, but it's not like whether or not one believes in the existence of US human rights abuses depends on this report. If it tells us something that we are already confident of knowing, then we can ignore it and get to the business of yelling about already-verified bad stuff, right?
posted by kengraham at 2:41 PM on April 29, 2013


Are we the baddies?
posted by fullerine at 3:10 PM on April 29, 2013


The problem is that China hasn't set itself up as the moral leader of the world, it doesn't bang on about democracy to other countries while funding fascist dictatorships and keeping people interened without trial and so on, and doesn't call itself "the worlds greatest democracy" where people can live "the Chinese dream". The American dream? now that's propaganda.

Which country has murdered more innocent foreign nationals in the last 20 years?
posted by marienbad at 3:21 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are we (US Mefites) talking about this, and not the acknowledged human rights of the US government, over which we have (a tiny nonzero amount of) control?

This is the false dichotomy: MeFi has like 10 threads a day on US human rights issues (drug war, Iraq, Afghanistan, police abuses, drones, etc). On this of all sites your comment makes no sense. It's possible to both talk about those and about how silly this is.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:26 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


On this of all sites your comment makes no sense. It's possible to both talk about those and about how silly this is.

In what way does my comment "make no sense"? Of course it's possible to discuss this report on MeFi. It just doesn't really advance the cause of eliminating human rights abuse to the greatest extent a MeFi conversation about human rights abuses potentially does.

The threads about "drug war, Iraq, Afghanistan, police abuses, drones, etc" are full of apologists for that sort of behaviour (and threads about more credible sources of information about that sort of behaviour -- I refer to Wikileaks threads -- are even more full of apologists for suppressing information about that sort of behaviour), and it's a reasonable hypothesis that the same sort of crowd will (willfully and with an essentially pro-human-rights abuse agenda) conflate the lack of credibility of a particular report on the subject with the nonexistence of credible information on that subject. To this extent, discussing this report is counterproductive; it would be good, however, to have a thread about discussing Chinese human rights abuses.

The point is that there is, from a point of view that deplores human rights abuses, no point in comparing those abuses perpetrated in different places. This fact calls into question the motives of the Chinese report, certainly, but it also calls into question the purpose of discussing that report, apart from its contents.

We can have any discussion we want, of course, but some serve more of a purpose than others. Last year, this same discussion largely devolved into nationalistic nitpicky bullshit, as I recall.
posted by kengraham at 3:53 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which country has murdered more innocent foreign nationals in the last 20 years?

And which has murdered more innocent nationals in the last 20 years? Gasp! Stalemate!
posted by smoke at 4:40 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Same thing as last year. I'd rather talk about Amnesty International's report, or the actual sources the Chinese report used than the Chinese report itself. Some here have said we should talk about the content of the report instead of the source, but we've already talked about these when they came up. We can talk about them again. The only news with this report is who is aggregating it.

The same thing happened last year, as said. It's kind of hard to ignore the source, when the source is the whole reason this repackaged information is on the blue now.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which country has murdered more innocent foreign nationals in the last 20 years?

And which has murdered more innocent nationals in the last 20 years? Gasp! Stalemate!


It's like a reverse of national pride, when if you're ashamed of an organization, you are seen as humble and aware, but you don't have any personal skin in the game that real shame or embarrassment would entail. Win/win for the poster, and it allows casting anyone who disagrees as both an apologist and being less aware.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:48 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


wasn't mao a feminist?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:09 PM on April 29, 2013


3 Tibetans Self-Immolate To Protest China, Reports Say
posted by homunculus at 6:33 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


wasn't mao a feminist?

Only to women who didn't wear glasses.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:06 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: It's okay to criticize the US government until another country does it.
posted by thetoken at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2013


you don't have any personal skin in the game that real shame or embarrassment would entail

Yes, it is hard to balance minimizing the skin one has in the game (because "the game" entails abusing people) with maximizing the skin one has in the parts of the game that benefit people. There's some level of "skin in the game" that does make one complicit, though. If you have enough skin in the game that human rights abuses would embarrass you directly, then you are probably part of the problem. (This makes most people complicit to some extent, by being consumers and by being citizens of many states: the products of prison labor are pretty omnipresent in the US, and slavery exists all over the world, for example. It's hard to see what to do about this complicity, but genuine shame and embarrassment are warranted, and shouldn't be dismissed as some sort of MeFi dick-measuring.)

I agree, though, that "reverse national pride" is as silly as "national pride". It's reasonable to be more critical of practices in places with which one is familiar, though, than one is about practices in other parts of the world.
posted by kengraham at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well. Okay.

I'll kick my own dog, if you don't mind.

But thanks for noticing.

Now, where was I?

Oh....Look, my dog don't bite, my horse don't kick, and my truck didn't make that funny noise when I loaned it to you.

And I don't make my kids wear funny clothes.
posted by mule98J at 8:07 PM on April 29, 2013


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