US raises concern over
human rights with Chinese FM

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BEIJING: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Monday met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and raised concerns over human rights issues, including Beijing’s anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong and the ongoing genocide in Xinjiang.

“US Deputy Secretary raised our concerns about human rights, including Beijing’s anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong; the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang; abuses in Tibet; and the curtailing of media access and freedom of the press. She also spoke about our concerns about Beijing’s conduct in cyberspace; across the Taiwan Strait; and in the East and South China Seas,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The Deputy Secretary also raised the cases of American and Canadian citizens detained in the PRC or under exit bans and reminded PRC officials that people are not bargaining chips.

Sherman reiterated concerns about the PRC’s unwillingness to cooperate with the World Health Organisation and allow a second phase investigation in the PRC into COVID-19’s origins, the statement added.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in north China’s Tianjin on July 26, 2021.

“In my meeting with PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi today, I spoke about the United States’ commitment to healthy competition, protecting human rights and democratic values, and strengthening the rules-based international order that benefits us all,” Sherman tweeted.

Taking to Twitter, Sherman also said that she had discussed issues important to the US with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng.

“I discussed issues important to the US with PRC Vice FM Xie, including the climate crisis, COVID-19, and our serious concerns about PRC actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and across the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. and our allies and partners will always stand up for our values,” Sherman wrote in a tweet.

Earlier in the day, China blamed the US for a “stalemate” in ties between the two nations and urged America to change what it called its “highly misguided mindset and dangerous policy”.

The meeting also comes on the heels of the US and its allies – including the European Union, Australia, Britain, New Zealand and Japan – warning China about its “malicious cyber activities”, as well as US sanctions on Hong Kong officials, and reciprocal Chinese sanctions.

Private Military Companies

Increase in Taliban insurgencies and the danger that it will seek to expand its influence into Central Asia, either by direct incursions or as a role model for local radicals–has refocused China’s attention and changed its calculations as well as those of the Central Asian governments.

Beijing has planned to expand the size of its Private Military Companies (PMCs) which have been working as a shield to protect China’s construction projects across Central Asia.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during a recent swing through Central Asia, told regional leaders that Beijing’s reliance on imported PMCs to guard local strategic infrastructure will be an important new form of security assistance to them against any threat from the outside. This expanded Chinese activity inevitably challenges other players in the region, including the Russian Federation, Turkey and the US, The Jamestown think tank reported.

Wang also stressed Beijing’s desire to provide the region with both ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ forms of security assistance but the idea behind this desire is to significantly increase the number of PMCs in the region, not just to protect Chinese assets but also to provide training and even leadership to the militaries of the Central Asian states.

China has been remarkably cautious about dispatching private military companies, but Beijing may have adopted this posture because of the rising tide of ‘anti-Chinese’ attitudes in many parts of Central Asia, including most prominently Kyrgyzstan,” The Jamestown think tank reported citing Stanislav Pritchin, a senior researcher at the Moscow Center for Post-Soviet Research.

“Beijing did not send PMCs to Turkmenistan in 2015-2016 when Ashgabat faced difficulties with Afghan militants on the border,” Pritchin said.

Even Moscow is concerned about the Chinese growing presence in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, two weak states where even a small presence of such paramilitary forces could play an outsized role in the domestic and foreign policies of the local governments.

For the last several years, China has made use of these PMCs to guard Chinese industrial sites and transportation networks that Beijing views as essential to its Belt and Road Initiative project. (ANI)