Blinken: Xi’s Visit Suggests China Doesn’t Think Moscow Should be Held Accountable for War Crimes in Ukraine
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow this week suggests China does not think the Kremlin should face accountability for the “numerous war crimes and other atrocities” committed by Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine that was documented in a State Department report.
The State Department unveiled its 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on Monday, which cites “credible reports of summary execution, torture, rape, indiscriminate attacks, and attacks deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure by Russia’s forces in Ukraine, all of which constitute war crimes.”
The report says the crimes occurred following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
“Instead of even condemning [Russia forces], [the People’s Republic of China] would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes,” Blinken told reporters during a press conference on Monday.
The top U.S. diplomat said the United States expects that China may use Xi’s visit to reiterate calls for a cease-fire under its peace proposal.
“The fundamental element of any plan for ending the war in Ukraine and producing adjusted durable peace must be upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in accordance with the United Nations’ Charter,” Blinken urged.
White House official John Kirby, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, said Monday, “Any cease-fire that does not address the removal of Russian forces from Ukraine would effectively ratify Russia’s illegal conquest.”
The State Department’s annual human rights report also underscored cases of forced deportation of civilians and children from Ukraine to Russia.
The report comes after the International Criminal Court issued warrants for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a Russian children’s rights official for their roles in alleged war crimes relating to the illegal transfers and deportations of children from occupied Ukrainian territories to Russia.
Moscow said the arrest warrants are outrageous and has dismissed the prospect of Putin going to trial. Russia does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction.
U.S. President Joe Biden and senior officials from his administration have accused Russia of committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine. In February, the State Department determined that members of the Russian forces and other Russian officials had committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
The report also highlighted concerns about continuing human rights abuses in Iran, China, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma,) Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria and other authoritarian nations.
The State Department report gave a grim outlook on the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban relentlessly discriminates against and represses women and girls, so far issuing 80 decrees and that restrict women’s freedom of movement and the right to education and work,” said Blinken on Monday.
In December, the Taliban ordered international and national nongovernmental organizations to suspend Afghan female staff from the workplace.
On Iran, Blinken said this year’s report documents in detail the Iranian regime’s violent crackdown and its continued denial of the Iranian people’s universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police last September for an alleged dress code violation triggered peaceful protests across Iran.
“In the wake of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, authorities have killed hundreds of peaceful protesters, including dozens of children, and arbitrarily detained thousands,” said Blinken on Monday.
While the Iranian government launched an investigation after the death of Amini, it focused on the acts of the protesters whom the government called “rioters” with no indication it would investigate the conduct of security forces, said the State Department report.
On China, Blinken said, ”Genocide and crimes against humanity” continued to occur against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang).
These crimes include the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, coerced abortions, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and persecution including forced labor and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement, according to the human rights report.
The report added some activists and organizations accused the Beijing government of forcibly harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, including religious and spiritual adherents such as Falun Gong practitioners and Muslim detainees in Xinjiang.
“Organ harvesting has been a part of the human rights report, it has been reported on there,” said Erin Barclay, State Department acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. “We will continue to focus on that as an issue across the broad spectrum of human rights and trafficking issues.”
On Myanmar, the report said the military regime continues to use violence to brutalize civilians and consolidate its control, killing more than 2,900 people and detaining more than 17,000 since a military coup in February 2021.
The new report documents the status of respect for human rights and worker rights in 198 countries and territories. The State Department has issued its annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices for more than 40 years.