China shocked by US abuses against Iraqi prisoners

Wouldn’t you know it? The Chinese government, that paragon of respect for human rights, universal brotherhood and the rule of law, is shocked (shocked, I tell you) by the current US scandal over the Abu Ghraib prison abuses. They can barely contain their outrage.

CHINA today expressed shock at the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers and told Washington it must abide by international conventions.

“We are shocked by the fact that Iraqi prisoners have been ill-treated and condemn this kind of acts which go against international conventions,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Complete investigations should be carried out into this affair and the suspects should be punished according to law.”

China, at loggerheads with Washington over its own human rights record, said it was imperative that the Bush administration abide by international laws and respect human rights.

“The US government should scrupulously abide by the international conventions such as the Geneva Convention and guarantee the basic human rights of the Iraqi prisoners,” said the foreign ministry.

I’m touched by the CCP’s new-found concern for basic human rights, and I’m also made a bit nauseous by their unrestrained hubris. China, lecturing others about human rights??

On the other hand, there is a sad message here, one that’s really depressing: We will have a hard time for years to come claiming the moral high ground again when it comes to human rights. China may be is one of the worst offenders when it comes to actual human rights, but due to the catastrophe of the past few weeks America can no longer criticize them without raising charges of hypocrisy. The ammunition we have given to our enemies and our critics is absolutely staggering. It makes me sick.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

Asia by blog

It’s time to see what’s what amongst Asian blogs. Richard and Crooked Timber show the kind of idiocy that passes for political discussion in Hong Kong. Another good reason the Liberals are destined for oblivion if universal sufferage ever arrives in HK…

May 10, 2004 @ 10:41 pm | Comment

I agree with you, Richard. The abuse scandal will serve as a set back to fight for human rights around the world. For those living under totalitarian regimes, this will deliver a terrible message: U.S. government is no better than their governmnet , and thus democracy is no better than dictatorship. So why should they put themselves at risk to fight for a delusive concept? My only hope is that the U.S. can find a way to recover from this damage and rebuild the world’s confidence in the power of democracy.

May 10, 2004 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

This from the people with the execution vans?

May 11, 2004 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Don’t know if you saw the CNN live shot of Tony Blair and Wen Jiabao, but a couple of reporters asked Blair about the Red Cross report that stated it was common practice to abuse prisoners. Well, one of those reporters turned to Wen and asked him what he thought of the human rights abuses.

Wen, very primly, I thought, started off by saying, and I paraphrase, “You asked two questions, one about human rights. I will answer that one first. China has worked for a long time to ensure the conditions for more democratic political reform. ”

I honestly didn’t hear the rest because my gf shouted, “What the fuck is he talking about!!!” And I had to turn around and ask her to be quieter while I figured just exactly that.

It was brilliant.

May 11, 2004 @ 6:36 am | Comment

The worldwide reaction to this has a strong whiff of Casablanca, when the chief offers his indignant explanation—”I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!”, as he is handed his winnings.

And then we go to reactions from Peking Duck, and the Chinese government, who are both Shocked, Shocked to find that conditions in Iraqi prisons are similar to those in Arizona.

May 11, 2004 @ 7:26 am | Comment

Boo, I know all about the prisons in the US. There is one difference: In Iraq, the abuse was perpetrated against many innocent bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time, with no hope of appeal or advice of counsel. It was done at a moment when nothing was more crucial than winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. It was done by the people who went there as liberators. So yes, I and even the highest members of the military establishment and die-hard conservatives like George Will and Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks are shocked. The whole Western world is shocked, and deservedly so. This was not supposed to happen and didn’t have to happen. It has destroyed our reputation and made the Iraqi war untenable.

May 11, 2004 @ 7:51 am | Comment

“It has destroyed our reputation and made the Iraqi war untenable.”

Do you see the handoff of power to an interim government at the end of June canceled over this? I don’t. If there is a handover, and if in 10 years Iraq is a functioning democracy, this incident, while certainly a PR disaster in the short term, will make no difference in the long run.

May 11, 2004 @ 9:04 am | Comment

We have no choice but to do the handover on June 30. It may be only for show, however, as we’ll still be ruling the country from the US embassy under the beloved Negroponte. That’s a given. Whether in 10 years Iraqi will or won’t be a functioning democracy I can’t say. But the bill of goods we were sold called for it to happen much, much earlier and much, much more easily. Those goals have been abandoned as pipe dreams, what with reality and and stuff like that butting in. What I do believe is that based on our initital objectives and promises, we have lost the war in every way — public relations-wise and on a more practical level. Iraq is now a mess the likes of which we”d never imagined — and that was the consensus even before the Abu Ghraib scandal emerged. I see absolutely zero evidence that Iraq is now on the way toward the democracy the neo-cons envisioned, and lots of evidence that indicates it’s an impossible dream.

May 11, 2004 @ 9:31 am | Comment

How dare China criticize the US? The US criticizes China all the time for things that (we now know for sure) she engages in herself. Let’s try to lose the moral soap box here. While I enjoy your site, I’d say that you should really stop huffing down your nose at the Chinese government. They, at least, are working for the welfare of their people. How concerned are you, really, about the welfare of China?

May 29, 2004 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Working for the welfare of the people? Puh-lease. The Chinese people would be so much betrter off in every way if the CCP got out of their fucking way and let them make their own choices. I’ve lived in the US and in China, and as much as I despise Bush, I can safely say we are way more free in the US than are the citizens of China.

May 29, 2004 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

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