As U.N. week came to a close in New York City, the conversation around China and its President’s comments were still being readily discussed. On September 27th, President Xi Jinping took to the podium at the United Nations to commemorate a conference on women’s rights that had occurred in Beijing 20 years prior. (This was the same conference where Hillary Clinton uttered one of her most famous quotes — “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”)
The sentence that follows in Clinton’s speech reads, “Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.”
The controversy surrounding President Xi’s rhetoric at last week’s U.N. session was because his message was off base with what is presently occurring in China. Currently, five Chinese women are being persecuted against by the government after being held in prison for 37 days because of their planned campaign against sexual harassment. The detainment of the feminist activists symbolizes a country that still has difficulty allowing women to express themselves, especially if it’s an opposing view.
Jane Perlez, The New York Times’ chief diplomatic correspondent, said, “President Obama did not attend the session, a decision by the administration to signal its distaste for the idea of Mr. Xi celebrating women’s progress in China amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent, including the arrest of female activists.”
Chinese officials addressed some of the dissent head on at a press conference following their President’s speech. They, in particular, addressed a tweet that was sent by Hillary Clinton, which chided President Xi for his remarks.
“I believe the Chinese people, particularly the women of China are in the best position to judge on the progress of women in China,” said Li Junhua, director general for international organizations and conferences at the foreign ministry, according to The New York Times. “As far as I understand, these people are detained not because of women’s rights but because of the violation of laws.”
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