Hong Kong

Hong Kong police show their new goose step marching style on the National Security Education Day at a police school in Hong Kong Thursday, April 15, 2021. Authorities in Hong Kong are marking the day with a police college open house, where police personnel demonstrated the Chinese military's "goose step" march, replacing British-style foot drills. The "goose step" march is one in which troops swing their legs off the ground in unison, keeping each leg straight.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

GENEVA (AP) — China pressured Ukraine into withdrawing its support for a call for more scrutiny of human rights in China’s western region of Xinjiang by threatening to withhold Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines destined for Ukraine unless it did so, diplomats told The Associated Press on Friday.

Ukraine briefly joined a statement by over 40 countries, presented by Canada at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, urging China to allow immediate access for independent observers to Xinjiang. Some human rights groups have alleged Chinese mistreatment of Muslim Uyghurs and others in the region.

On Thursday, Ukraine pulled its name off the list of supporting states after Chinese authorities warned Kyiv that they would block a planned shipment of at least 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Ukraine unless it did so, said diplomats from two Western countries. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Ukraine has agreed to purchase 1.9 million doses of CoronaVac vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech. As of early May, Ukraine had received 1.2 million doses, according to Health Minister Maxim Stepanov.

In the past, China’s government has been no stranger to pressuring other countries in Geneva diplomatic circles or in national capitals either to line up behind its statements or avoid backing statements that criticize, question or seek scrutiny of human rights in the country.

But the alleged pressure would mark an escalation of intense recent efforts by Beijing to push back against criticism of its rights record, this time by potentially jeopardizing health — even lives — as a way to minimize international attention to it, the diplomats said.

One of the Western diplomats called it sign of “bare-knuckles” diplomacy by China. The other diplomat cited “reports of significant pressure in Kyiv,” adding, “last night the delegation told us they needed to pull out.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing and a spokesman for the Chinese diplomatic mission in Geneva in did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Ukrainian authorities did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

(1) comment

Jimzan

China is scum....The sooner you realize that, the better. Lets scrape the ScumBags off the planet.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.