On Tuesday, the UN General Assembly will elect 17 new member states to the 47-member council, whose role is to “promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
China’s bid comes at a time when evidence suggests Beijing’s record on the human rights of individuals across the country is at a particularly low ebb.
Over the past month, Sky News has seen evidence of an abortion forced upon a couple, houses forcibly demolished before owners could remove their belongings and individuals detained for expressing displeasure with their government.
Since President Xi Jinping took office in March, his government has made no secret of its widespread and concerted effort to crack down on dissent.
Activists, journalists and well-established dissidents have been rounded up and detained in record numbers.
The forced demolition of homes continues, as does the practice of forced abortions in provinces where over-zealous local officials take enforcement of the one-child policy to its extreme.
“Electing China as a world judge on human rights would be like asking the fox to guard the chickens,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.
China’s government argues vehemently that it has improved the “collective” human rights of its people by pulling so many millions out of poverty over the past three decades.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told Sky News: “In the past 30 years China has pulled more people out of poverty than anywhere else and pushed forward the largest scale urbanisation project in the world.
“So in China, millions of people’s lives are being changed for the better.”
In its official nomination papers for the Human Rights Council, China says: “The Chinese Government respects the principle of the universality of human rights and has made unremitting efforts for the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Chinese people.
“China earnestly fulfils its obligations under relevant international human rights treaties.”
Mr Neuer disputed this, saying: “This is a complete lie. The truth is that the Chinese Communist Party has Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo behind bars, denies 1.3 billion human beings their basic freedoms of assembly, speech and religion, and crushes Tibetans, Uighurs and other minorities.”
Mr Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
He was unable to travel to Oslo to collect the award because he was locked up for “subversion” of the Chinese government. Three years on, he remains in a jail in northern China.
Sky News tried to visit his wife last week. She lives on the fifth floor of an apartment block to the north west of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Mrs Liu has been under house arrest since the day her husband was awarded his Nobel prize.
We arrived at the apartment block knowing it was unlikely we would succeed in seeing her and as we opened the lobby door, three plain-clothed security men confronted us. They forcibly removed us with no explanation.
Mrs Liu has lived with guards at her door 24-hours a day for three years. Her crime is being married to a dissident.
A few miles from Mrs Liu’s locked apartment is a pile of rubble which was once home to a small community.
We had driven there after a tip-off that a forced demolition had taken place. We arrived an hour after the bulldozers had moved out.
Across the two-acre site, locals were sifting through their belongings. They had not been granted the time to move out before their houses were flattened to make way for new developments.
Standing on top of the rubble that was once her house, Liang Jian Wei said: “Yesterday we were happily living here. This morning, with no sign at all, they demolished the house.”
The mood was more one of resignation than anger.
“I’m not angry, I’m frustrated,” Jian Wei says.
“I can only accept this reality. In this society, led by the Communist Party, anything could happen.
“There’s no place I can go to tell my story, to make some sense out of it. I don’t think our country has the full rule of law.”Source: Sky News – UN Expected To Elect China To Rights Council
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