The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized China in their annual report for the "most intrusive public surveillance system the world has ever known". The report, which was presented in New York, states: "The Chinese Communist Party, fearing that the granting of political freedom could jeopardize its power, has set up an Orwellian high-tech surveillance state and a sophisticated Internet censorship system to publicly criticize monitor and suppress. " At the same time, the Beijing leadership used its growing economic influence abroad to undermine the global human rights defense system.
"Beijing has long suppressed criticism in its own country. Now the Chinese government is trying to extend this censorship to the rest of the world," HRW chief Kenneth Roth wrote in the report. If China is not prevented from doing so, there is a "dystopian future" in which nobody is beyond the "reach of Chinese censors". In addition, Roth warned that the international human rights system could be weakened to such an extent that repression by national governments would no longer be possible. According to the HRW report, this is already evident in the United Nations bodies.
In its northwestern province of Xinjiang, inhabited by around 13 million Muslims, China has set up a "nightmare-like system" for controlling the minority. HRW believes that up to a million people are being held in re-education camps in Xinjiang, most of them Uighurs. They are ethnically related to the Turks and feel oppressed by the ruling Han Chinese. The government in Peking accuses Uyghur groups of separatism and terrorism.
"The aim is to create a society free of dissent"
Many people in China wanted to live free, said Roth in new York, "However, President Xi Jinping's government is responsible for the most brutal and profound oppression that China has experienced in decades." The authorities have smashed civil society groups, silenced independent journalists and severely restricted online communication. HRW also criticizes the fact that Beijing is using ever more sophisticated technologies for oppression and is thereby massively interfering with people's privacy. DNA samples would be collected under duress and large data analysis and artificial intelligence would be used. "The aim is to create a society free of dissent," said the human rights activist.
HRW also accuses China of a systematic attack on the international enforcement of human rights. The great power used its influence at the United Nations to prevent measures to persecute perpetrators around the world. The government in Beijing fears precedents. That is why China, under head of state Xi Jinping, is trying, among other things, to block measures against Syrian and Russian airstrikes against Syrian civilians or because of the violence by the army in Myanmar against the Rohingya minority. Against this background, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has not yet publicly called on the Chinese government to suppress the Muslim Uyghur minority in the province Xinjiang to end.
HRW appealed to the democratic states to work together against Beijing's strategy. For example, they are supposed to provide alternatives to Chinese loans and freeze the assets of Chinese government officials who took part in the suppression of the Uighurs.
HRW chief Roth originally wanted to present the annual report in Hong Kong, but was refused entry at the airport in the Chinese special administrative region. The government in Beijing had defended the move as its sovereign right. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch supported "anti-Chinese actions and troublemakers in Hong Kong," it said. Roth said the entry ban vividly illustrated the problem with China. HRW had to move to New York to present its report, which contains chapters on dozens of countries worldwide.