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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

"We express deep concern over the deteriorating human rights conditions in the US" - Wang Wenbin

Wang Wenbin, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson of the People's Republic of China gave a powerful response on April 18 when asked a question at his regular press conference about the recent shooting of Patrick Lyoya.

Lyoya, who was Black, was shot in the back of the head by a white police officer while lying facedown on the ground after a confrontation stemming from a traffic incident in Michigan. This was confirmed on April 19 after an independent autopsy was performed.

Wenbin's response is worth quoting in full.

CCTV question: According to US media reports, a white police officer fatally shot a 26-year-old man of African descent named Patrick Lyoya in the head during a law enforcement operation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This incident once again drew fierce criticism from the American society over racial discrimination and police violence in the US. Do you have any comment?

We express deep concern over the deteriorating human rights conditions in the US. There are more than enough facts showing that racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and violence in law enforcement do not exist in the form of isolated and sporadic cases, but are persistent and systemic issues in the US. 

Following George Floyd’s desperate cry of “I can’t breathe” over one year ago, hundreds of people of ethnic minorities have been gunned down by US law enforcement officials. As many as 93.7% American Muslims said that Islamophobia affects their emotional and mental well-being; 81% of Asian American adults say violence against them is rising; and Hispanic Americans who account for 19% of the country’s total population own only 2% of all wealth. Fernand de Varennes, UNHCR Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, said the legal system in the US is “structurally set up to advantage and forgive those who are wealthier, and penalizing those who are poorer, particularly minorities of color”. 

The US is riddled with the most severe gun violence. It is also the only developed country that witnesses mass shootings every year in the past two decades. In 2020, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the US, up by 43% compared to 2010. A 2018 survey reveals that 75% of American youth report mass shootings as a significant source of stress. According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center in April 2021, 48% Americans see gun violence as a very big problem in the country that needs to be addressed. However, the US federal government was unable to adopt a single gun control act over the past 25 years. 

It is reported that people of color experience discriminatory treatment by the police in various areas. A relevant survey shows that only 22% Americans said the police treat all Americans equally.

The US is becoming a country afflicted by systemic violation of human rights. It is thus in no position to make irresponsible remarks on the human rights conditions in other countries. What the US should do is face squarely its own prevalent and grave human rights issues and earnestly come up with ways to tackle the root causes of its deteriorating human rights conditions.

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