MONROVIA – It has been reliably gathered that China, through a Chinese embassy spokesperson, recently declared that it is disappointed with Liberia, over the tiny West African nation’s involvement in a collective condemnation coming from 43 countries regarding human rights abuses being committed in Xinjiang allegedly by the Chinese government.
In late October this year, Liberia was among a broad group of 43 countries at the United Nations that in a declaration, strongly condemned the Chinese government of being complicit in widespread human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, China.
Following negotiations led by the French delegation, French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière delivered the joint statement at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee.
The Cross-Regional Joint Statement on the Human Rights Situation in Xinjiang, a copy of which this writer has seen, cites credible-based reports which indicate the existence of a large network of “political re-education” camps where signatories to the declaration stated that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained.
The October joint declaration’s signatories including Liberia, noted that they have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations, including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children being carried out by China, adding that they are particularly concerned about the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
They accused the Chinese government of imposing severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the freedoms of movement, association and expression as well as on Uyghur culture, indicating that widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and members of other minorities.
Countries that signed the statement are: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Eswatini, Finland, France, and Germany.
Others are: Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, and New Zealand.
The rest are: Northern Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Howbeit, a spokesperson of the Chinese embassy near Monrovia has termed Liberia’s action to have signed the October statement as the country’s co-sponsorship of certain Western countries’ joint statement on Xinjiang at the UN General Assembly.
The Chinese embassy spokesperson recalled that on October 21, at the ongoing 76th Third Committee Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), some Western countries made a so-called “joint statement” on China’s human rights situation, using the Xinjiang issue to carry out unwarranted allegations against China.
“China is shocked and disappointed that Liberia, a good friend and brother of China, is among those countries that have supported this “joint statement”, and it is in fact the only African country which has diplomatic relations with China that has done so,” the spokesperson stressed.
The Chinese embassy spokesperson emphasized that Xinjiang-related issues are China’s internal affairs that broke no interference by external forces stating, “A few Western countries fabricated lies based on false information and continued to attack and discredit China on Xinjiang-related issues, interfering in China’s internal affairs under the guise of human rights so as to contain China’s development. China firmly opposes this.”
The spokesperson was quick to reveal that justice always prevails, adding that also on October 21, 62 developing and friendly countries, including many African countries, made a joint statement at the Third Committee by reiterating that issues related to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet are internal affairs of China, and opposing politically motivated, unreasonable accusations against China based on false information, and interference in China’s internal affairs, using human rights as an excuse.
In addition, the spokesperson stated that unlike Liberia and the 42 other nations that signed the joint statement against China, around 30 countries have supported China through individual speeches or joint letters.
“This fully demonstrates that it is unpopular to politicize human rights issues. We trust more and more countries will choose to stand on the side of justice,” the Chinese embassy spokesperson said.
The spokesperson expressed the hope that Liberia will look at the bigger picture and not be deceived by those he said have ulterior motives.
He also wants Liberia to stand on the side of what he called correctness, justice with concrete actions.
“We sincerely hope that Liberia can keep her eyes open, discern the truth, not be deceived by those with ulterior motives, and stand on the side of correctness and justice with concrete actions,” he said.
It is not clear what this would mean for Liberia/China relations, as the latter has threatened retaliation against countries that make public their views concerning Chinese government violations.
But the unprecedented cross-regional coalition endorsing the global statement of condemnation is further proof that countries including Liberia are ignoring Beijing’s threats of retaliation against those that publicly raise concerns about Chinese government violations.
Crucially, this declaration is the first with signatories from all five regional groups at the UN, which include Liberia, Eswatini, and Turkey, which all joined for the first time since mostly Western countries began issuing periodic joint statements several years ago.
Relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Liberia have been broken and reestablished several times since February 17, 1977, when diplomatic relations between the PRC and Liberia were first formed.
On October 10, 1989, it can be recalled, in response to Liberia’s recognition of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the PRC severed ties with Liberia.
Currently, both countries have a seemingly burgeoning relationship, with Liberia benefitting from several PRC government projects in recent years.