Written By: Nicholas D. Nimley
Recently, Liberia joined forty-two countries in issuing a joint-statement condemning China on “alleged human rights violation” in the Chinese Province of Xinjiang.
Liberia was the lone member from the shores of Africa that signed this statement, a move that it saw in the effect of diplomacy as “interference” in another country’s internal matters. What is interesting to know is that every country on the globe has an internal issue it is dealing with, of which, no one is an exception when it comes to human rights.
This statement issued by the 43 countries outlined allegations of alleged human rights abuses, and forced labor; a claim China has termed as “totally groundless”, and that “hard-won stability” was bringing growing prosperity to the region.
Issue regarding Xinjiang is China’s internal matter, and other countries of the world should stay clear by respecting the international norms of “non-interference”, in order to enhance world peace and cooperation.
There’s an adage which says “Don’t bite the hand that’s feeding you”, this means that mindfulness is important in all that we do.
China is very capable of handling whatever internal issues it might have, and doesn’t need other countries to tell her how to go about handling these issues.
China has been one of Liberia’s most outstanding bilateral and multilateral partners, particularly over the last 16 years. And this has brought more tangibles to the country’s growth and development in all forms and manner.
As a very strategic partner to Liberia, China has adhered to the international norm of not getting involved into any country’s internal matters; instead they have gotten involved with what is considered as “soft-power diplomacy”, which is enhancing world peace and cooperation.
It is important that we focus our attention on issues we’re struggling to address as a country, instead of joining other countries who are stronger than us economically to castigate another sovereign nation, who has been a true definition of what a real friendship is or should be to us.
What I have learned in diplomacy is that tolerance, dialogue and constructive engagement brings better results than confrontation. Diplomacy requires thinking more, than talking more, and to give more thoughts on a prevailing issue or situation outside of one’s territorial jurisdiction.
Let’s not forget that China is a very good partner to the people of Africa; a fact that can be proven beyond reasonable doubts. China has contributed more in terms of human capacity development when compared to other countries combined.
Thousands of Africans go to China for quality education, training and seminars every year at the expense of the Chinese taxpayers. This is something that Africa, especially Liberia should be grateful about.
The action by one of our Senior diplomats in my mind was completely out of order, unacceptable, and requires mindfulness. Our diplomats need to think carefully before creating more embarrassment as evidenced by their recent actions.
Liberia is one of the countries that’s enjoying a pragmatic cooperation with China, and Liberians, especially students will be very disappointed finding out about this reckless action carried out by a senior diplomat who is very well knowledgeable on the effect of diplomacy.
Whether it is multilateral or bilateral diplomacy, China continues to provide opportunities for Liberian students, technicians, medical workers, government officials and employees and so on.
The country has also helped Liberia to address some of its infrastructure deficit, and these are some of her undertakings; the National Sports Stadium, the university of Liberia Fendell Campus, the Jackson Fiah Doe Memorial regional referral hospital, Capitol Building Annexes, the Ministerial Complex, and the China-Liberia Friendship Park and China-Liberia Agricultural Demonstration Center in Central Liberia among others.
As a country, we are challenged in all sectors, that’s why our senior diplomats need to think more in supporting the agenda of the president, than getting involved with issues that could cause hindrance to the fulfillment of the government’s agenda.
China is fully supporting the PAPD of President Weah, and for this, we must be appreciative.
However, it appears that western nations are using the issue of Xinjiang to unfairly criticize China, which is completely wrong. The Chinese government is doing better in the province and perhaps these good things have not been reported.
It beats the imagination of many that a region which is unfairly criticized is the producer of most of the world’s cotton. How can a region which is considered the worst, be more productive?
In April 2021, China organized a trip to Xinjiang for foreign media to defend its policies in the region following mounting international criticism of alleged human rights abuses.
About 10 foreign media including Associated Press (AP) and TV Tokyo were invited to the region in the country’s far west.
According to a report by AP, Xu Guixiang, deputy head of the Communist Party’s publicity department in Xinjiang, met the media group in the city of Turpan, outside a location that had been identified previously by an unnamed Australian think tank as a re-education center.
It says that TV Tokyo was the only Japanese outlet to join the media tour. Its reporter visited a textile company with 5,000 employees that was sanctioned by the United States over the alleged use of forced labour.
The company claimed that there was no forced labor, saying that sanctions had affected transactions with American and Japanese firms. In addition, TV Tokyo visited a cotton cultivation site.
“Both the government and farmers emphasized the progress of automation and emphasized that forced labour does not exist here either,” TV Tokyo’s report said.
Many people who were asked about alleged human rights abuses did not respond, but some said that “Han Chinese and ethnic minorities are one family”, TV Tokyo said.
This was not the first time Chinese authorities had invited foreign media to Xinjiang. In January 2019, a group of foreign media outlets, including Reuters and Russian state-run news agency TASS, visited camps in Xinjiang.
It can be recalled that Beijing has cited visits by NBC in 2019 and the BBC in 2020 as evidence that it does not bar foreign media from Xinjiang.
“I encourage you to see more of the region and present the image of the real Xinjiang to the world,” Le Yucheng, China’s foreign vice-minister, told AP on April 16, before the media trip.
More than 1,200 people from over 100 countries and regions, including officials from international organizations, diplomats, journalists and religious leaders, have visited Xinjiang since the end of 2018, according to official statistics.
Le told AP there was a condition that people should travel to Xinjiang as visitors, not investigators.
“We have invited Western diplomats to Xinjiang, but they are still reluctant to accept our invitation,” Le was quoted by AP as saying.
The Chinese foreign ministry said some foreign journalists in Beijing were invited to five places in Xinjiang including Urumqi, Kashgar, Aksu, Changji and Turpan from April 19 to 23.
The group visited themed exhibitions on anti-terrorism and extremism, religious sites, schools, rural communities, cotton planting sites, and local companies which have been sanctioned by the United States and the West.
The ministry said it would continue to organize similar visits to Xinjiang for delegations of journalists.
Accordingly, the cotton harvest season in Xinjiang, China’s largest cotton-producing region, will last until mid-November this year, with the output expected to reach 5.2 million tonnes. The region has contributed nearly 90 percent of China’s cotton production capacity and about 20 percent of the global cotton production.
Resistant to drought and sandstorms, cotton is an indispensable crop for the farmers’ livelihood in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang has added nearly 1,000 cotton pickers in 2021, making its total number almost 7,000, according to the data from the region’s agricultural and rural mechanization development center.
Since 2014, thousands of textile and garment enterprises have injected investment and built factories in southern Xinjiang.
By the end of 2020, Xinjiang’s production capacity in the cotton textile industry accounted for 17.6 percent of China’s total, which provides job opportunities for nearly 600,000 people.
To conclude, it is important that Liberia join other countries on the continent to stay away from another country’s internal affairs.
About The Author:
Nicholas Dweh Nimley is a Liberian Journalist, a Media Fellow of the China Public Diplomacy Association Program. He has over 14 years of practical experience as a journalist. He has worked for both development, and mainstream media institutions in Liberia. He is also a full member of the Press Union of Liberia, the Sports Writers Association of Liberia, and member of the China Africa Press Center. Currently, he’s an Outsourced Editor at China Daily Africa. You can reach at email@example.com or 00231776586433