China attacks the colonial heritage of the West. It could backfire on Beijing

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For Chinese diplomats, attack remains the best form of defense.

Faced with a growing barrage of international condemnations for its alleged violations in Xinjiang, China appears determined to strike back, calling on Western countries to recognize their own complicated human rights record before criticizing Beijing.

China on Tuesday urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct a “full and impartial investigation” into Canada’s treatment of its indigenous peoples after the remains of hundreds of children were found in anonymous graves at two former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

“It is not enough to simply apologize, and Canada must take concrete steps to correct its mistakes,” said Jiang Duan, Minister of the Chinese Mission to the UN in Geneva.

His comments were accompanied by a concerted campaign in Chinese state media, including provocative remarks. comments on social media from Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of nationalist tabloid Global Times, who over the weekend posted a cartoon of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sitting on a pile of skulls. The caption read: “We stole your land, we killed your men, we buried your child. Let’s reconcile.

Beijing’s calls for a UN investigation come as Ottawa has joined 44 countries in urging China to allow independent observers full and unhindered access to Xinjiang – a heavily watched and watched region in the western part of the country – to investigate allegations of widespread abuse, including the imprisonment of up to 1 million Muslim minority citizens in a vast system of detention centers.

And Canada is not the first Western country to be targeted by Beijing in this way. Over the past six months, China has repeatedly attacked Australia’s mistreatment of its indigenous population and has highlighted allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Canada and Australia are far from flawless when it comes to human rights, especially when it comes to the treatment of their indigenous peoples. By speaking publicly about these injustices, the Chinese government believes it is exposing Western human rights hypocrisy. Experts, however, say Beijing is also at risk of exposing its own.

After all, the only way we know about many of the abuses highlighted by Chinese authorities is through transparent – and often ongoing – public debates and investigations in those countries.

By comparison, Chinese officials don’t even want to recognize the potential for alleged abuse in China, let alone the historic crimes committed by the Communist Party throughout the 20th century.

Responding to repeated calls from China for an investigation into the treatment of Indigenous women and children in Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked why Beijing has yet to take responsibility for its own abuses. “Where is the openness that Canada has always shown and the responsibility that Canada has assumed for the terrible mistakes of the past? Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa on June 22.

By calling for a more in-depth examination of human rights violations, at the precise moment when it drags the negotiations during a visit to Xinjiang by independent observers, former Canadian Ambassador to Beijing Guy Saint-Jacques said Canada and Australia should bluff China.

“If China asks the United Nations to investigate the situation in Canada, then I would say that it should agree to conduct an investigation to examine the situation in Xinjiang as well,” he said.

But Natasha Kassam, a former Australian diplomat in China and director of the public opinion and foreign policy program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, said the Chinese government’s tactics were not necessarily aimed exclusively at the West.

Kassam said that while citizens of the United States, Canada and Australia might dismiss China’s criticisms of their human rights record, it might resonate with audiences in the developing world. who could one day choose between the United States and China.

“The Australian and American military have very complicated histories, for example in the Middle East, in a way that most people would not see as having had China,” she said. “As a diversionary tactic, I think it’s pretty effective.”

Wang Haibin / Sipa Asia / Zuma Press

Seaweed blooms on the coast of Qingdao, China on June 18.

Turning the tide green: Blooming algae have invaded the coast of Qingdao, in China’s Shandong province. The problem occurs every summer, often suffocating the marine ecosystem, deoxygenating the water and damaging the health of species – but authorities say it’s particularly serious this year, with algae covering an area nine times the size of the sea. last year.

Shares of popular rideshare app Didi plunged nearly 20% on Tuesday in New York City as the fallout continued on the company’s problems in China – including news that Chinese regulators are throwing a hammer on them. companies listed abroad.

The company’s stock closed down 19.6% on Tuesday at $ 12.49, well below its closing price of $ 15.53 on Friday. He made his debut in the United States last week.

Tuesday was the first trading day in the United States since Chinese regulators banned Didi from app stores nationwide over the weekend. U.S. markets were closed Monday for the July 4 holiday.

China’s Cyberspace Administration banned downloading of the Didi Chuxing app on Sunday after it said it posed a cybersecurity risk for customers and the platform was found to be “in serious breach of the law. by illegally collecting and using personal information ”.

The country’s government also announced on Tuesday that it would increase regulation of listed companies abroad. This means that he intends to severely punish illegal activities in securities, including fraudulent issuance of shares, embezzlement and market manipulation. He said securities fraud was significant in foreign markets.

All the bad news for Didi clearly rocked investors. As recently as last week, Didi was the subject of the largest initial public offering by a Chinese company in the United States since Alibaba debuted in 2014, raising some $ 4.4 billion.

But only two days later, China launched an investigation into Didi and suspended registration of new users on the app.

Didi, who has 377 million active users in China alone, said it was complying with regulators’ demands.

The company said users who have already downloaded the app would not be affected, but also warned that it expects a potential impact on revenue in China.

By Michelle Toh

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