As remembrances of the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre continue, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from experts outlining the worldwide threat of human rights violations that the Chinese regime is imposing within China and abroad.
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) explained that although the Tiananmen Square massacre had happened in the open for the world to see, there are still serious human rights abuses happening in China hidden from public view.
“In June 1989 the photo of a lone Chinese citizen standing down a column of People’s Liberation Army tanks in Tiananmen Square was the snapshot seen around the world of the Chinese peoples’ suffering. The Chinese government’s modes of repression today are perhaps more difficult to capture in a single image but are nevertheless omnipresent, pernicious and increasingly brazen. Every day is Tiananmen Square but you don’t see the pictures and you don’t see the way that they are treated because it’s done surreptitiously,” said Risch.
Human Rights organizations and democratic governments around the world continue to document extreme persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs, Tibetans and Christians.
The committee also heard from Xiao Qiang, founder of China Digital Times who detailed how China’s surveillance and new technologies are aiding China’s rights abuses.
“The digitalization of the Chinese society is turning China into a surveillance state. Facial recognition, voice recognition, DNA collection, 200 million surveillance cameras everywhere. Social Credit System. A new generation of digital technology, including artificial intelligence and big data analysis, is empowering the state to control, to monitor, to manipulate China’s vast population in scalable fashion,” Xiao said.
Christopher Walker, vice president of the National Endowment for Democracy cautioned that the Chinese regime is exporting its suppressive activities outside of China and that the international community must be diligent.
“Beijing has internationalized its authoritarianism in ways that affects us all. This important anniversary of the brutal crackdown of Tiananmen Square, we’re obliged to reflect on the China that has emerged over the past three decades and on how the country’s leadership is pursuing its ambitions beyond its country’s borders. A critical aspect of China’s development is the massive resources the authorities have invested in modern technologies. Such investments over the years have been central to the repression in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region which is functioning now as a technology animated police state,” said Walker.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch stated the necessity to discourage and hold accountable foreign businesses and entities that are aiding the Chinese communist regime in the persecution and suppression of its own people.
“To combat the Chinese government’s expanding use of surveillance technology and the commission of human rights violations, we urge the United States to impose appropriate export control mechanisms including by adding companies to existing export control lists and imposing targeted sanctions under the global Magnitsky Act. We also encourage consideration of end user bans—U.S. companies and universities working in the sector should be encouraged to adopt due diligence policies to ensure that they are not engaged in or enabling serious human rights violations,” she said.