OP-Ed for Portfolio – VoxPopuli

Action Needs to Be Taken Against China’s
Human Rights Abuses

The world should take more action against the tyrannical Chinese regime because it is arguably the world’s worst human rights abuser. The People’s Republic of China has consistently shown throughout its seventy-year existence that it has little regard for even the most basic democratic values. Action needs to be taken soon in order to prevent the savage crackdown of dissidents within China. If nothing is done to hold the Chinese accountable for the atrocities they have committed so far, the fragile flame of democracy and freedom may start to fade worldwide.

It’s not hard to find examples of China’s human rights abuses. There are far too many to list in a single essay. For example, many of the rights we enjoy as Americans such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press do not exist in China. Protests are often handled with military force. China’s long history of violently repressing protests began during the Tiananmen Square protests where peaceful demonstrators were gunned down by soldiers and ran over with tanks in a massacre that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people. Another example, would be the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Although the Chinese have not sent in the military to quell these protests yet, violence from the authorities is an extremely common occurrence at these protests. The freedom fighters in Hong Kong face swarms of rubber bullets and are gassed with tear gas daily. Additionally, China’s treatment of minority groups such as the Uighur Muslims and the Falun Gong is atrocious and at worst could be classed as a form of genocide. These groups are rounded up into concentration camps where they face forced sterilizations and have their organs harvested.

While it is true that there are countries that are just as bad, if not worse than China regarding human rights, these countries do not match China’s global influence and size. These two aspects make China much more dangerous than other countries. Arguably, China is the 2nd most powerful country behind the US, one of the two superpowers. If we take no action, China’s influence will only grow potentially placing them as the most influential country on Earth. China has already let its territorial ambitions be known in the South China Sea and in Hong Kong. Additionally, China’s sway has been increasing due to the Belt and Road initiative. Under this initiative China invests large sums of money into foreign infrastructure projects. China gains large amounts of economic and political influence in the countries it gives money to, especially if the country cannot pay China back. Leaders of these indebted countries will find themselves having to follow orders from their almighty benefactor. Imagine a world dominated by the Chinese, the consequences for human rights would be catastrophic.

So far, the world’s democracies have largely turned a blind eye to China’s savage treatment of its own citizens. The reason for this is that the West’s economy is largely dependent on China’s manufacturing capabilities and expansive consumer market. This is due to a multitude of factors including cheap labor and China’s lax safety/environmental regulations. Many companies and countries don’t speak out against China in fear of losing access to the lucrative Chinese market. The placing of profits over morals is a common thread among companies who do business with China. The recent debacle with the NBA where China coerced the NBA to fire a GM who showed support for Hong Kong protesters in a tweet is one of the many examples of this phenomenon in action.

Although it may seem as if we are powerless against the evil Chinese empire, there are actions that can be taken. We need to hit China where it counts, in its bank account. This would require both the cooperation of the government and businesses in order to be successful but, American companies pulling out of China and the placing of economic sanctions on China would knock the Chinese to their knees, giving us the leverage needed to finally make progress on human rights in China. There are plenty of other countries that offer cheap manufacturing and have better human rights records than China, such as Mexico. We don’t need to rely on China anymore.

To conclude, action must be taken soon against China. We cannot stand on the sidelines being a bystander to China’s heinous human rights abuses forever. China’s malevolent influence will only grow stronger as time passes. From both a humanitarian and political perspective it makes sense to counter China’s human rights abuses. China may be Goliath, but we are David. At the end of the day, it is the ethical duty of the worlds democracies to ensure the flame of human rights is not stamped out.

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4 Responses to OP-Ed for Portfolio – VoxPopuli

  1. davidbdale says:

    A beautifully nuanced piece of writing that balances our outrage at China’s abuses with our desire to keep them engaged with the international community (and benefit from essential trade agreements with them). A study in our moral hypocrisy. Well done.


  2. davidbdale says:

    I rarely offer specific grammatical advice on works still in draft, Vox, but your essay is so nearly complete I feel justified in suggesting that you comb it for nits.

    The argument is strong and capably argued throughout. You’ve made obvious and welcome improvements since our last go-round, and the suggestions I will make below are far narrower and more specific than fundamental. This is the home stretch.

    P1. You leave no doubt that China abuses human rights. But once you make that claim, there’s little to gain by repeating it twice. Your first, second, and third sentences use the same phrase “human rights.” Wouldn’t it be more persuasive to illustrate the point a bit? The first time, they abuse human rights. The second time, they have little regard for (the rule of law?) (the fundamentals of democracy?) (the will of the Chinese people?). The third time we need to take action to (prevent the brutal repression of dissidents?) (pressure the Chinese for regime change?) (reverse the encroachments of the surveillance state?). I’m sure you see what I mean, Vox. Every sentence can make a fresh and specific claim, even without statistics or citations.

    P2. Tiananmen Square is SO long ago it might be considered an anomaly by casual China observers, Vox. When you cite it in the Present Tense, as “are handled . . . as seen in 1989,” you send an unclear message. You might want to cite it as “the first step on a long road” that China is still traveling, and transition to the violent repressions of the Hong Kong uprising as the latest in a long campaign to stamp out resistance.

    P3. If you’re going to grant the point that other countries are as bad, then why delay by attributing that point to “some may argue”? Be quick to get over objections: “While other countries may be just as bad, they don’t match China’s influence.” In your own mind, the human rights impact of China’s economic influence may be obvious, but readers might need it spelled out. What looks like benign assistance now (money for infrastructure) quickly turns to political domination when recipient countries can’t repay their debt and have to grant vast power to China in all spheres of their society. You don’t have to say HOW, but you do have to say THAT the political leaders of the debtor countries will start following orders from their big benefactor.

    P4. The NBA example doesn’t need a paragraph of its own. Pull it into Paragraph 4.

    P5. It’s one thing to suggest that the US has power over China, but when you suggest “pulling companies out of China,” you appear to be suggesting either that the government can command business to stay out of foreign markets, or that we need the cooperation of both government and business to hurt China economically. Which?

    P6. (It’s impolite to ask, but do you have anything to say about our support for chronic human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia and Israel?)

    No need to ask for further feedback, Vox. You’re ready for your Portfolio now. Still, I’d love to see the above questions addressed.


  3. davidbdale says:

    Some grammar, punctuation, usage concerns:
    —it has little regard for even the most basic of its citizen’s rights.
    —There is far too many to list in a single essay.
    —demonstrators were gunned down and ran over by tanks
    —A more recent example, would be the pro-democracy demonstrations
    —Some may argue that there are countries that are just as bad, if not worse than China
    —China is arguably the 2nd most powerful country behind the US
    —If we take no action China’s influence will only grow potentially placing it
    —China gains large amounts of economic and political influence in the countries they give money to
    —Imagine a world dominated by China, the consequences for human rights would be catastrophic.
    —China’s savage treatment of their own citizens.
    —countries don’t speak out against China in fear of losing access
    —We need to hit China where it counts, in their bank account.
    —it is the ethical duty of the worlds democracies to ensure the flame of human rights is not stamped out.

    There’s a error in every little snippet. Many are repetitions of the confusion over whether China is singular (considered an entity) or plural (considered as a lot of Chinese people).


  4. voxpopuli75 says:

    Would it be possible to get feedback on how to improve my argument, and if my existing argument effectively supports my thesis? thanks in advance.


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