Human Rights Watch report blasts China as its chief barred from Hong Kong
(Reuters) - U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a scathing review of the Chinese government, calling on the international community to push back against "the most brutal and pervasive oppression China has seen in decades" in its 2020 annual report.
The global head of HRW, Kenneth Roth, was denied entry to Hong Kong on Sunday where he was expected to launch the report that covers the global human rights situation but features China prominently.
The report strongly condemns Beijing's treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region and warns that China's growing political influence and efforts to censor people abroad pose an "existential threat to the international human rights system."
"If not challenged, Beijing's actions portend a dystopian future in which no one is beyond the reach of Chinese censors, and an international human rights system so weakened that it no longer serves as a check on government repression," said Roth in the report.
China last month announced sanctions on HRW and other U.S. NGOs as a countermeasure to the U.S. Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which supports anti-government protests in Hong Kong and threatens China with sanctions for human rights abuses.
Beijing says the NGOs are encouraging violent crime linked to anti-government protests in Hong Kong that have plagued the city for over six months.
Chinese state media has also broadly blamed fake news and Western interference for landslide victories against pro-Beijing election candidates in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The HRW report, which was released in new York on Tuesday, said Hong Kong police have used "excessive force" and have "increasingly restricted freedom of assembly" in the financial hub. It criticised Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam for refusing to launch an independent investigation into police abuses.
Beijing has previously criticised HRW over its investigations on surveillance technology and re-education camps in Xinjiang.
The U.N. estimates roughly one million Uighurs have been previously detained in Xinjiang.
Beijing denies any mistreatment of Uighurs or others in Xinjiang, saying it is providing vocational training to help stamp out Islamist extremism and separatism and to teach new skills.
China has always been sensitive to rights allegations, but in the past year it has become increasingly forceful in rebuking criticisms, which have periodically threatened to derail trade negotiations with the United States.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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