China Accuses U.S. of Hypocrisy After Kelly Craft's Human Rights Remarks

China accused the United States of hypocrisy and chided its United Nations Ambassador, Kelly Craft, after she criticized Beijing's inclusion in the U.N.'s Human Rights Council and called for an overhaul of the body.

The response by China's permanent mission to the U.N. came hours after Ambassador Craft spoke of the council's need for serious reform during a speech at The Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Craft, who took over the post of permanent representative to the U.N. from Nikki Haley in September 2019, called China's October election to the Geneva body an "outrage," citing the country's "egregious examples of human rights abuses."

The @UN_HRC has included human rights violators it was designed to counter, like China, Cuba & Venezuela. This is an insult to millions subject to oppression & persecution for seeking to employ their God-given rights, & an affront to human rights defenders craving @UN support.

— Ambassador Kelly Craft (@USAmbUN) December 14, 2020

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Human Rights Council in June 2018, a decision Craft described as "principled."

"The Obama administration tried hard to reform the council from within, but unfortunately, that didn't work," she told an audience at the conservative policy think tank.

Craft said the body's core aims were being undermined by the UN's "bureaucratic inertia combined with poorly designed membership rules and regional alliances." The council needed reforms including stricter membership and improved elections, she said.

"Any further delay betrays the victims of torture in Venezuela and the more than one million religious minorities facing detention in China who have the bitter irony of watching the government who abused them sit on the Human Rights Council," the ambassador argued.

"I cannot turn away from the mistreatment of the Taiwanese, the Hong Kongers, the Tibetans, the Uighurs, the Rohingyas, and many, many more," added.

After her speech, the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations released an unsigned statement calling Craft's remarks an "unwarranted attack on China's human rights situation."

"China resolutely opposes and totally rejects" Craft's accusations, the statement by an unnamed spokesperson read.

"China's election to the Human Rights Council for five times fully demonstrates the international community's recognition of China's human right achievements and its contribution to international exchanges and cooperation on human rights," it continued.

Beijing described Craft's statement as "irrational" and "shameless," before accusing Washington of hypocrisy. The statement pointed to America's poor response to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests as examples of U.S. human rights failings.

A week before Human Rights Council elections in October, a joint statement by 39 member states called on China to allow independent observers into its northwestern region of Xinjiang, where rights groups say over a million Uighurs—Turkic Muslims—are being detained in internment camps as part of a radical counterterrorism campaign by the Chinese Communist Party.

The statement led by German Ambassador to the U.N., Christoph Heusgen, expressed "grave concerns" about Beijing's policies in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, where a sweeping national security law was introduced this summer.

However, Heusgen's statement was rebutted by joint addresses made by nearly 70 nations in support of China's rights to exercise its policies. Beijing received backing from Pakistan, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela and Russia, among others.

Chinese representative Zhang Jun's response to Heusgen included several similar points made in Monday's rejection of Ambassador Craft's remarks.

President-elect Joe Biden has signalled his intentioned to rejoin the Human Rights Council. He has nominated career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to replace Craft at the UN.

Ambassador Kelly Craft Speaks At State Department
File photo: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP via Getty Images