China: Is it time to hold the US accountable?

Written by Sara Sorcher, CNN

It’s fitting that China is accused of genocide for its actions against the Uyghur minority within its borders. The Peoples’ Republic’s human rights record has long been among the worst in the world, and that conduct mirrors a similar standard of cruelty in their treatment of the Uyghurs.

This is the country that arrested 200 journalists just for covering protests against the construction of an expressway. It is the country with an estimated 17,000 re-education centers, where detainees are “brainwashed” into renouncing Uyghur faith and adopting the Chinese majority religion. It is the country where three people in a police car tortured a Uyghur man to death, a crime that has never been punished, just investigated.

Watch: Chinese journalist explains why she fled her home country

And the world looks on.

Politicians have called for China to be censured by the United Nations as a state that engages in genocide, although they have stopped short of using that term. The United States has directly criticized China on a few occasions, but the US still consumes the most of China’s goods and invests the most of China’s foreign exchange reserves in US debt.

The world seems to acquiesce because, well, there isn’t much else to criticize. But what if the United States should be ashamed? What if the citizens of this country actually, on some level, look at these human rights violations and speak out? The political reality in the US is what it is, but what about the moral reality?

Watch: Unravelling human rights in China

In his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Liu Xiaobo famously said, “We are worried about what others think of us. We believe that we have little credibility in our own country and that the US cares little about our fate.” That is exactly what the Chinese Government and its United Nations allies are right now thinking: that the US seems more concerned about pushing America out of the Middle East and the Pacific than they do about keeping the United States out of the region — or any region that would truly upset China.

It is tempting to believe that Chinese dissidents and Uyghurs can help change that equation, but we have seen — in the past and again in recent months — that Uyghurs and dissidents haven’t had much success despite widespread human rights problems within their own country. Instead, China continues to get all kinds of free trade benefits from the United States and the international community, and the United States keeps delivering billions in new defense contracts to China every year.

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