Beijing Tries to Flip the Script on Oppression

News Analysis How has Beijing responded to U.S. pronouncements that it stands with its athletes and their freedom of speech? Expectedly, it answered according to a time-tested two-part strategy from the authoritarian handbook: totally deny all allegations and instead assert that all of those under regime control love the government and are living in perfect harmony; and deflect attention to the United States, and claim that it is Washington that is the truly oppressive and tyrannical government. “Here is my advice to the United States: Do not go further down the wrong path. It will not only make your own people suffer, but also create more trouble for other countries and the whole world.” This was the response of Zhang Jun, China’s representative to the United Nations (U.N.), to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield. During a Feb. 6 conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Thomas-Greenfield had reaffirmed the stance of the Biden administration in supporting the safety of U.S. athletes. This included the right for athletes to speak out against human rights abuses happening in China, specifically in regard to the Uyghur ethnic group. Thomas-Greenfield made additional comments about the growing need to fight for democratic values in the world. She pointed to the Feb. 4 meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin as reinforcing international resolve to support democracy and condemn authoritarianism. Beijing met these remarks with anger, claiming that the “groundless, politically biased words” contributed to “poisoning China-U.S. relations.” According to state-run news outlet Xinhua, the United States has simply tried to deflect from the great success of the Beijing Winter Olympics. While the international community had stood behind China, the United States attempts to discredit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “won no support and met with complete failure,” according to Xinhua. Falun Gong practitioners take part in a candlelight vigil remembering victims of the 22-year-long persecution in China at the Washington Monument, in Washington, on July 16, 2021. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) The article goes on to explain that U.S. accusations of the widespread state-sanctioned crackdown on minority ethnic and religious groups have been debunked. “People of all ethnic groups are enjoying a peaceful, harmonious and happy life.” Quickly morphing into an open diatribe against the United States for the sin of questioning Beijing’s internal governance, the piece then incorporates an attack on Washington’s support for Taiwan’s independence before turning its guns on U.S. history. “The systematic ethnic cleansing and massacre of the Native Americans throughout U.S. history is the real genocide and crime against humanity.” Zhang then accused the United States of committing war crimes across the Middle East. The article also takes a shot at the United States’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the country’s deaths are almost 200 times the number of recorded deaths in China despite having a much smaller population. Even assuming that CCP reporting of COVID deaths is not skewed to present China in the best possible light, no mention is made of the fact that the scientific consensus is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was manufactured in a Chinese lab and released on to the world likely due to CCP negligence. Beijing rather continues to maintain that the virus came from outside of China and any accusation to the contrary is just another example of Western racism. The whataboutism on display in these statements is textbook behavior by communist regimes when confronted with an inconvenient truth: claim that everyone is actually living in perfect harmony and that it is the United States that is the true human rights transgressor. The difference between the United States and communist China is that, unlike in a truly repressive society, the United States is able to take account of its past and bear responsibility for the historical grievances of groups such as Native Americans. The government that emerged from the American founding was predicated on the fact that human nature is constant and that there is no system that can socially engineer perfect citizens. Better to provide its people with the greatest latitude of liberty possible to figure out the good life for themselves. The ideology at the root of CCP policy is, on the contrary, based on the social constructivist view that human nature is malleable. If the government can create the correct surrounding circumstances, then it can ensure that its citizens live in a perfect social system. Buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, believed to be a reeducation camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, on June 2, 2019. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images) When there are groups who refuse to renounce the

Beijing Tries to Flip the Script on Oppression

News Analysis

How has Beijing responded to U.S. pronouncements that it stands with its athletes and their freedom of speech?

Expectedly, it answered according to a time-tested two-part strategy from the authoritarian handbook: totally deny all allegations and instead assert that all of those under regime control love the government and are living in perfect harmony; and deflect attention to the United States, and claim that it is Washington that is the truly oppressive and tyrannical government.

“Here is my advice to the United States: Do not go further down the wrong path. It will not only make your own people suffer, but also create more trouble for other countries and the whole world.” This was the response of Zhang Jun, China’s representative to the United Nations (U.N.), to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

During a Feb. 6 conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Thomas-Greenfield had reaffirmed the stance of the Biden administration in supporting the safety of U.S. athletes. This included the right for athletes to speak out against human rights abuses happening in China, specifically in regard to the Uyghur ethnic group. Thomas-Greenfield made additional comments about the growing need to fight for democratic values in the world. She pointed to the Feb. 4 meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin as reinforcing international resolve to support democracy and condemn authoritarianism.

Beijing met these remarks with anger, claiming that the “groundless, politically biased words” contributed to “poisoning China-U.S. relations.” According to state-run news outlet Xinhua, the United States has simply tried to deflect from the great success of the Beijing Winter Olympics. While the international community had stood behind China, the United States attempts to discredit the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “won no support and met with complete failure,” according to Xinhua.

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a candlelight vigil remembering victims of the 22-year-long persecution in China at the Washington Monument, in Washington, on July 16, 2021. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The article goes on to explain that U.S. accusations of the widespread state-sanctioned crackdown on minority ethnic and religious groups have been debunked. “People of all ethnic groups are enjoying a peaceful, harmonious and happy life.” Quickly morphing into an open diatribe against the United States for the sin of questioning Beijing’s internal governance, the piece then incorporates an attack on Washington’s support for Taiwan’s independence before turning its guns on U.S. history.

“The systematic ethnic cleansing and massacre of the Native Americans throughout U.S. history is the real genocide and crime against humanity.” Zhang then accused the United States of committing war crimes across the Middle East.

The article also takes a shot at the United States’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the country’s deaths are almost 200 times the number of recorded deaths in China despite having a much smaller population. Even assuming that CCP reporting of COVID deaths is not skewed to present China in the best possible light, no mention is made of the fact that the scientific consensus is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was manufactured in a Chinese lab and released on to the world likely due to CCP negligence. Beijing rather continues to maintain that the virus came from outside of China and any accusation to the contrary is just another example of Western racism.

The whataboutism on display in these statements is textbook behavior by communist regimes when confronted with an inconvenient truth: claim that everyone is actually living in perfect harmony and that it is the United States that is the true human rights transgressor.

The difference between the United States and communist China is that, unlike in a truly repressive society, the United States is able to take account of its past and bear responsibility for the historical grievances of groups such as Native Americans. The government that emerged from the American founding was predicated on the fact that human nature is constant and that there is no system that can socially engineer perfect citizens. Better to provide its people with the greatest latitude of liberty possible to figure out the good life for themselves.

The ideology at the root of CCP policy is, on the contrary, based on the social constructivist view that human nature is malleable. If the government can create the correct surrounding circumstances, then it can ensure that its citizens live in a perfect social system.

Epoch Times Photo
Buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, believed to be a reeducation camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, on June 2, 2019. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

When there are groups who refuse to renounce their ethnic or religious identity and adopt the image of the new communist man, the regime is subsequently left with no option but to forcibly assimilate the group. This includes reeducation, prison terms, and potential liquidation. China must systematically deny that any human rights abuses occur, as acknowledging the opposite would disprove the central tenet upon which the entire façade is built: that the government can socially engineer the perfect communist end state.

China’s “zero-COVID” policy is another example in which the CCP needs to further limit its citizens’ freedom to uphold a false reality—this time, that the regime can totally insulate its citizenry from an extremely transmissible respiratory disease.

This is the root of why authoritarian regimes have always failed. The belief that there is a single correct way of seeing the world, and it simply takes an intellectual vanguard to properly relay this vision to the people, and ignores the reality that difference of opinion will always be organically present. Mandating one worldview will thus always lead to the requirement that opposing viewpoints be forcibly repressed.

This is the antithesis of the political thought of the American founding and its weariness of both majority and minority factions. Even if 99 percent of the population holds a certain view, it is the fundamental right of the 1 percent to maintain their contrary beliefs.

The right to be wrong will always be worth defending over an imposed way of thinking, regardless of how correct the latter is believed to be.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Dominick Sansone writes on international relations with a focus on comparative politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Russia-China relations. Previously a Fulbright recipient in Bulgaria, he has also lived in North Macedonia and Bologna, Italy. His writing has been published in the National Interest, RealClear Defense, and the American Conservative.