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Global experts call for human consolidation, denouncing US's anti-China remarks amid pandemic
June 02,2020   By:GLOBAL TIMES
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Health officials carry the body of a coronavirus victim on a stretcher to container morgues in New York City on April 6. Photo: AFP
 
June 2,2020 -- The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to promote solidarity and to stop politicizing the virus, said worldwide law and human rights experts during a livestreaming conference focused on comparing human rights in China and the Western countries amid virus prevention efforts.
 
Over 40 professionals from UN Human Rights, Austria, the Netherlands, the UK, Pakistan, Nepal, and China joined together to discuss how to avoid the coronavirus crisis becoming a human rights crisis at the conference held in Institute for Human Rights Law, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan.
 
Practice makes perfect
 
Responses from governments on COVID-19 reflect distinctive values of human rights, Li Yunlong, a professor at the Institute for International Strategic Studies, Party School of the Central Committee of CPC, said during the conference. 
 
China upholds the principle of a right to life and health comes first, and taking measures to save every life at all costs, whereas other countries like the US are more concerned with the cost of saving lives and emphasizing the balance between saving lives and the economy, Li explained. EU countries such as Sweden, instead, stress the human rights community while practicing herd immunity to protect the majority at the expense of a small minority.  
 
When evaluating infection and mortality rates, China's response has been applaudable, and especially so as the country had no prior experience. In contrast, Sweden, which has relied on herd immunity in the past, had not developed true herd immunity despite losing many lives, and the number of infections and fatalities continues to increase, Li suggested.
 
"What is more worrying is that the US, which always calculates the cost of saving lives and drifts about the production resumption, is now causing serious economic and social disorder, and paying a heavy price with human lives," Li continued.
 
Human rights are not for oral debate but are tested in comparison and practice, Fu Zitang, vice president of China Society for Human Rights Studies, president of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, stressed during the conference.
 
China's well-designed grid management system and grassroots governance help to enhance human rights during pandemic prevention and control efforts if the world can review how resident and village committees, and other grassroots forces act as policy publicists, mediators, and screening coordinators, He Shiqing, a professor at the Institute for Human Rights Law, Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
 
Stop politicizing the virus
 
"Human rights have become an instrument of geopolitics, used by some in the West as a political weapon to stigmatize and demonize and to interfere in internal affairs of other countries," said Senator Mushahid Hussain, chairman of Pakistan-China Institute. 
 
"It is sad and unfortunate that some in the West, notably, the US, seem keen to weaponize the pandemic for political pursuits through 'China-bashing,' as they do on human rights."
 
Tom Zwart, Director of Cross-Cultural Human Rights Centre, Free University Amsterdam,and Professor Alexander Knoops from the University of Amsterdam, criticized the US legal complaints and mitigation against China as part of its "China-bashing" campaign, referencing Missouri court case against China and Chinese entities unlikely to succeed. 
 
Missouri lacks any standing to bring the case, which is likely to be thrown out, according to both legal professionals. 
 
Knoops argued that the outbreak of the coronavirus is different from some foreseeable accident such as nuclear explosion that a country is capable of taking preventive measures. There are unprecedented situations and force majeure in the COVID-19 pandemic, and no country should be held responsible.
 
Experts agreed that the "Yellow Peril" remarks, hate speeches, and xenophobic reactions were cultivating populism and nativism.
 
"These unfortunate evils benefit no one; no nation, no individual," said Patrice Vahard, UN OHCHR Representative in Guinea.
 
"The last mimicry of 'Yellow Peril' was to be created by [US President] Donald Trump and company in form of a 'China Virus' and 'Wuhan Virus'," Gerd Kaminski, director of Austrian Institute for China and Southeast Asia Studies, said. 
 
"In the 19th and 20th centuries, Western powers forced their concepts of international law on China without complying with the most basic of their own rules," Kaminski said. 
 
Why are certain states, who were preaching human rights in the 20th and 21st centuries to China, harassing the human rights of the Chinese during the COVID-19 pandemic in the most flagrant of ways, Kaminski questioned. 
 
Despite human rights protection, Vahard regards COVID-19 as an opportunity to reverse declining trends on solidarity and international cooperation for the benefit of humanity. 
 
"All countries must collectively combat the common enemy of COVID-19, with the UN and WHO in the lead, so the crisis is overcome in the shortest possible time through global cooperation. That is the only way forward for suffering humanity," said Hussain.