Why U.S.' crusade on human rights won't work
Zou Yue

Editor's note: Zou Yue joined CCTV in 2003, and in 2010 became the anchor of China 24, a flagship news magazine show on CCTV NEWS, the predecessor of CGTN. Since 1997, Zou has covered major events across China, including Hong Kong and Macao's return to China, China's first manned space flight, the six-party talks in Beijing, the Wenchuan Earthquake, and Shenzhou and Chang'e Space Missions to name a few.

On Wednesday, the U.S. published its 43rd human rights report, accusing 200 countries and regions of human rights violations. It claimed that China was abusing Muslim minorities. The next day China responded with a report on the human rights of the U.S. 

The Chinese report criticized the U.S. for racial discrimination, economic inequality, massive incarceration, and its refusal to close Guantanamo.

I've read online comments on both reports. Interestingly, there are people on both sides who have doubts about the seriousness of it all. I am alarmed by how divisive this could be.

When you ask someone in Nigeria, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Germany, Denmark or China: Do you care about freedom of speech, racial equality and economic inequality, and in what order? I bet they will have different answers.

I believe in the eyes of many in the developing countries, freedom from want and fear is the number one human right.

That is why the Chinese and Americans see Xinjiang differently. The Chinese want to see a stable and prosperous Xinjiang where Chinese Uygurs, Kazaks and Han people are free from religious radicalization and economic deprivation. 

I talked to a CGTN journalist who just visited a vocational training school in Kashgar. What he saw is probably not a utopia, but definitely a school for learning, a chance at a better job and a place for good.

Social justice and individual rights and freedoms are not “Western” any more than they are “Chinese”. Rather, they are socially constructed in history and realities. But I guess I can never have the ears of some Americans who refuse to listen.

The U.S. always boasts to be “the greatest hope for freedom of mankind”. But even during a pacifist Obama presidency, the Americans dropped 26,000 bombs on seven countries in just one year. 

And America wants to make the world in its image, but look at the places it has tried; in Grenada, in Guatemala, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Uncle Sam's missionary passion is morally questionable and practically impossible.

A citizen has human rights but also rights to his culture, history and community. As German philosopher Johann Fichte pointed out, every nation is entitled to its own political autonomy.

Ronald Reagan once said, a troubled and inflicted mankind looks to the U.S. as the shining city on a hill. Yes, the U.S. shines but there are lights elsewhere and there are hills all around. We are all imperfect; in order to remedy the problem, we must be humble.

Human rights is not mathematics; there is no universal equation. It is a conversation within a civilization and between civilizations.

Script: Zou Yue

Cover photo: Yu Peng

Video photographer: Zhao Ruixuan

Video and design: Li Yahui, Li Linxi

Copy editing: Josh McNally

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