The “human rights organisation” Human Rights Watch (HRW) has presented its annual “World Report”. China, in particular, is described there in shrill tones as the greatest international threat to human rights. The report is cited in many media – although the shortcomings and partialities of HRW have long been known: HRW uses a mixture of real information and distortion, the organization always takes a clear Western-economic-liberal point of view.
Although the reports also criticise Western countries, they are considerably more hesitant than, for example, Russia, Syria or Venezuela. And the well-known principle also applies to the HRW report: if different offences are put on a par by equalisation, then this is beneficial for the worse off.
“China undermines human rights worldwide”
The principle used by HRW is now known and largely exposed. That it is still important to point out these hardly concealed manipulations with the vehicle of “human rights” is shown by the numerous headlines that the “World Report” still triggers. The FAZ, citing the report, says: “China undermines human rights worldwide.” The Tagesspiegel quotes the HRW formulation of a” nightmarish control system " in China. The “Deutsche Welle” sees a “super show for Human Rights”. And Die Zeit cites the report in the sense that China operates “the most aggressive surveillance system” in the world.
As with the HRW Report itself, exceptions also confirm the rule in the media reports: the reports also cite criticisms of other countries – but in the overall impression this largely disappears behind the almost all headlines aimed at China. This distorting view, which places China in a special role, is also reflected in the introductory text by HRW CEO Kenneth Roth:
On foreign policy, it (the Chinese government) is using its economic influence to silence critics and advance the most intense attack on the global system of human rights that the world has seen since its inception in the mid-20th century.
Foreign policy in comparison – no “whataboutism”
China should not be unduly protected here: there are very critical manifestations in Chinese politics, including the system for electronic monitoring of the “well-being” of its own citizens, as well as restrictions on the internet or freedom of expression and possible deficits in the legal system. But anyone who says that China undermines human rights more than any other nation in the world must, for serious Information, compare China’s actions at least with those of the United States – that is, the nation whose army commits the most serious crimes in the world. Current examples of Criminal US foreign policy-in this case regarding Iran / Iraq, where these countries are only individual examples among many “US victims”.
And anyone who castigates China’s use of “economic influence” could, in the same breath, target the economic policies of EU countries or the EU against inferior States. A comparison of the foreign policy of China and the USA , for example, is not a “Whataboutism”, but an indispensable Information for the appropriate classification of foreign policy crimes. A special condemnation of China’s foreign policy in comparison with all other nations is untenable and to assert it therefore fulfils the facts of Manipulation by concealment. The HRW report has thereby disqualified itself for an objective assessment of the world situation. To quote the report without criticism is therefore dubious and distorting.
Western nations are also criticized
The criticism of the HRW report is not intended to say that China would potentially and in the future renounce human rights violations abroad, a development in this direction may be indicated by the Chinese rise in power – but currently, as I said, the most destructive foreign policy actor would be the first to name the USA. HRW chief Roth would like to channel this obvious imbalance of the report by the following unsustainable phrases:
Certainly other governments also commit serious human rights violations. But no one will let their political muscles play with such force and determination as the Chinese leadership when it comes to weakening international human rights norms and institutions that could hold them accountable.
This can only sound like a mockery to informed critics of US foreign policy. On the other hand, it should be emphasized that criticism of parts of US policy is also formulated in the country report in question-but the thorough domestic political settlement in the HRW Report also presumably stems from the conflict between different power groups within the USA. This does not invalidate the HRW criticism of Donald Trump’s policy-but it should be clear that the power group that criticizes Trump here is by no means only pursuing noble motives. In addition, the US crimes described in the country report usually do not make it into the headlines of the articles of German media on the current HRW Report.
In the HRW report, Germany and the EU are also shown to have deficits in the respective chapters. However, this criticism disappears – for example, in the reporting in the German media, and also in the accompanying commentary by HRW chief Roth – to a large extent and inappropriate behind the bogeyman of China. On the other hand, Germany, the USA and the EU have different criteria of criticism than China, which distorts the overall result.
HRW as an “independent voice” for a media strategy
The HRW country reports on Venezuela, Bolivia or Iran are particularly tendentious. This is in line with expectations, as large parts of the destructive actions of US foreign policy are currently allegedly concentrated in these three countries. These reports make it particularly clear that HRW has long since left the position of objective rapporteur on human rights. It is interesting that Russia as a global villain has been partially replaced by China, but this does not make the current HRW report on Russia any more serious.
HRW describes itself as an “independent non-governmental organisation supported by private individuals and foundations worldwide”, the in-house information on the financing can be found at this Link. To conclude, please refer to some rather general statements regarding the HRW report of 2019, which are still valid today:
In addition, Germany, for example, is exclusively the subject of domestic policy, while other countries are also scourged for their foreign policy, for example Russia because of Syria and Ukraine. This is also advantageous for the liberal Block. Because it is a characteristic feature of Western politics: many of the really serious crimes are transferred abroad – via geopolitical wars and forced trade agreements. So what does it look like in those countries, how do Western weapons, western geopolitics and Western trade agreements work there? This aspect is not adequately addressed by HRW.
Human Rights Watch is becoming part of a media strategy that needs ‘external’ and supposedly ‘independent’ voices and assessments in order to sell itself better. Other examples of these constructs are more or less unambiguously the Reporters Without Borders, the Syrian office for human rights or Amnesty International.