Why African Countries Support China Against the West on Human Rights


People Protest Uighur Rally Before US Mission to United Nations-February 5, 2019

African countries have not signed UN condemnation of China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Hong Kong and Tibet

African countries are not among the countries calling for China to treat the majority of Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern part of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

In fact, some African diplomats recently attended an event in Beijing, praising China’s policy in the region.

It is believed that at least one million Uighurs have been detained in the vast camp network of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. China faces charges of forced labor, forced sterilization, torture and genocide-it denies.

The Chinese government has defended detention camps, claiming they are professional “re-education centers” to combat terrorism and religious extremism.

Burkina Faso’s ambassador, Adama Compaoré, said, “Some Western forces hype about so-called Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region-related issues have actually launched a provocative attack on China behind themselves. Serving the motive. ” It was reported that he said at the event in March In the eyes of the African ambassador to China, it is called Xinjiang.

Sudan and Congo Brazzaville also attended the event, and its envoy Daniel Owassa praised “great development achievements in various areas of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in recent years” and China has taken a series of anti-terrorism measures in the region. He said he supported what he called. ..

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the rally was an example of Africa’s silence on the world’s major concerns.

“”[It] It may be a daily diplomacy, but the African government’s willingness to remain silent about the suppression of Beijing’s rights is affecting the real world. ” Carine Kaneza Nantulya, HRW’s Director of Defense for Africa, said in a statement.

“”[Africans] In many cases, they have justified their indifference to the plight of other countries and sought global solidarity with human suffering. “

Generational change?

However, Ejeviome Otobo, a non-resident fellow at the Institute for Global Governance in Brussels, said African leaders and China have a common understanding based on three key areas: human rights, economic interests and non-interference with domestic affairs. State to have.

“For 30 years, China has built a tradition of foreign ministers visiting Africa for the first time each year. This is not just a symbol.”, Source: Cliff Mboya, Source Description: China-Africa Analyst, Image: Cliff Mboya

Africa’s predominantly pro-China position is increasingly afflicting the continent with respect to the West when it comes to human rights.

Controversial Hong Kong National Security Law vote at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2020 imposes severe penalties on political objections, effectively ending territorial autonomy did. China.

A few months later, in October, no African country signed a bitter condemnation of China’s human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Hong Kong, and Tibet, backed by Western nations.

HRW has accused African leaders of prioritizing economic interests from China at the expense of other global concerns.

Nevertheless, Eric Hollander, co-founder of the China-Africa Project, said that for African policy makers, not being hostile to Beijing is “a much more important foreign policy priority.”

“What these critics don’t seem to understand is that they are poor developing countries (many of which also benefit greatly from Beijing and rely on China for most of their trade). It’s not in a position to withstand an immediate blow. It’s a result of upset China. “

China-Africa Summit Meeting held in Beijing in September 2018

China holds a summit meeting with African leaders every three years

Another major factor is the relationship decades ago that was solidified when African countries played an important role in helping China rejoin the United Nations in protests from the United States in 1970. ..

“Since then, relations have only strengthened,” Kenya-based Chinese and African analyst Cliff Muboya told the BBC.

“For 30 years, China has built a tradition of foreign ministers visiting Africa for the first time each year, which shows that they are investing in long-term relationships as well as symbolic, to Africans. It makes a big impression. “

Young Africans may not be so impressed-they have an overwhelmingly positive view of the United States and its development models, According to a recent afro barometer study..

But seniors and government leaders have different feelings, and their decision to rely on China to finance infrastructure, especially in the last two decades, has led to the vast roads, bridges, and roads that secure the continent. It’s not a digital economy paria that has transformed the landscape of the continent with railroads, ports and internet infrastructure.

Graph

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Some of these projects are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative signed by 46 African countries, says Yasushi Oto.

“Where are the Western equivalents?” He added that it would be difficult to match the scale of China’s funding.

The lack of transparency in the deals signed to fund these large-scale projects has fueled suspicion of a gloomy plan to lock the continent with loans it can’t afford, Mr. Orlando said. I say This “borrowing” theory was revealed..

And debt relief and access to the Covid-19 vaccine could be an important theme for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a high-profile triennial event in Senegal later this year.

Vaccine diplomacy

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Chinese flag has been common at continental airports, indicating the arrival of important donations such as personal protective equipment and, more recently, Chinese-made vaccines.

China’s so-called vaccine diplomacy has reached 13 African countries so far, and African countries have purchased or benefited from donations.

A man raising the Chinese flag before shipping the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines at Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe-March 2021

Zimbabwe is one of 12 countries using Chinese vaccines.

By comparison, with the exception of the global Covax initiative, there was no direct support from the United Kingdom or the United States. This is also supported by China. To date, Covax has been administered 18 million doses in 41 African countries.

Using access to the Covid-19 vaccine as a tool of influence around the world is an ongoing competition among the world’s major powers.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab in March Encouraging developing countries to wait for the “gold standard” vaccine Not from China or Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken considers this situation not racial. I recently told an African student: “We don’t ask anyone to choose between the United States and China, but ask those difficult questions, dig into the surface, demand transparency, and make informed choices. Is recommended. “

Nairobi traffic

The 17-mile four-lane driveway, the Nairobi Highway, is one of many China-funded projects in Kenya.

Western nations know they cannot compete with China in terms of lending and infrastructure. There was no retaliation against those with Chinese assistance or those who were overly partisan towards Beijing. Instead, they rely on mantras such as seeking democracy and corruption-free investment.

For this reason, it is unlikely that African countries will take Chinese leaders to The Hague in the near future regarding the treatment of Uighurs-what happened to Aung San Suu Kyi in 2019 when she was a leader in Myanmar. As you can see The Gambian former Minister of Justice has filed a proceeding against the Rohingya Muslim minority’s treatment of their country...

Abubacarr Tamado was supported by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group of 57 Muslim countries, 27 of which are African groups. The move, praised by the West, has so far resulted in the International Court of Justice ordering Myanmar to take steps to prevent genocide.

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