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Testimony of Michael Posner for Congressional-Govt Fee on China — NYU Stern Heart for Enterprise and Human Rights

Testimony of Michael Posner

Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics & Finance

Director of the Heart for Enterprise & Human Rights

New York College Stern Faculty of Enterprise

Congressional-Govt Fee on China

October 17, 2019

Chairman Rubio, Chairman McGovern, thanks for inviting me to look at right this moment’s listening to, which pulls much-needed consideration to the plight of the embattled Uyghur neighborhood in China.  At a time when core human rights rules are being examined in lots of locations across the globe, I deeply respect the steadfast dedication the 2 of you’ve got demonstrated, together with others on this Fee, to shinning a highlight on critical violations of human rights. Once I served within the State Division throughout the first Obama time period, I typically was summoned to look earlier than varied committees of Congress to debate problematic international locations the place we would have liked to step up our sport. Whereas Congressional scrutiny is just not a favourite past-time of State Division officers, I valued the constructive prodding throughout these encounters. You pushed us to do higher, and also you proceed to play this essential position.


I’m now primarily based on the New York College Stern Faculty of Enterprise, the place I direct the Heart for Enterprise and Human Rights. I seem right here this morning to supply ideas and proposals to the Govt Department, to Congress, and to the enterprise neighborhood, on the difficult questions they face of their ongoing engagements with China. I achieve this hoping to supply a constructive critique of present efforts to have interaction constructively and in a principled approach with China, and to make ideas for going ahead.


First I need to supply a bit context. I train enterprise college students about human rights, and in my top notch each semester, I talk about the discount of worldwide poverty as an essential metric of human rights. In keeping with the World Financial institution, in 1981, 88% of the individuals in China had been residing in excessive poverty, surviving on lower than $1.25 a day. Right this moment, that quantity has dropped under 5%.[1] This dramatic progress is basically attributable to China’s spectacular financial progress, about which the Chinese language persons are understandably proud. An essential issue fueling this progress has been the federal government’s embrace of a market-based system and its transfer away from the financial orthodoxy of its previous.


Sadly, the Chinese language authorities has refused to indicate a concomitant willingness to reform its political system. The gross abuses of human rights we see right this moment in opposition to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the efforts to crush democratic freedoms in Hong Kong are two placing examples of this resistance. Since Xi Jinping got here to energy, the human rights scenario in China has grown worse, and in some methods dramatically so.[2]


Others on this panel will describe the determined scenario of the Uyghur inhabitants in Xinxiang in higher element. They’ve confronted systematic discrimination and persecution by the Chinese language authorities for a few years.[3] Lately, the scope and scale of those violations have escalated dramatically.[4] The imprisonment of greater than a million Uyghurs right this moment[5] makes it probably the most egregious instance of arbitrary detention wherever on the planet. 1000’s extra endure compelled labor,[6] and just about everybody in that neighborhood is topic to pervasive surveillance and isolation from the skin world.[7] The response of the worldwide neighborhood has not been commensurate with the extent of those gross human rights violations, which is why this listening to is so essential.

In the previous few weeks, some progress might have been made on US-China commerce. If a preliminary settlement is consummated, and that is nonetheless removed from sure, the pact would obligate China to buy $40 to $50 billion price of American agricultural merchandise yearly. It additionally would strengthen Chinese language protections for American mental property and provides US monetary companies firms higher entry to Chinese language markets. In change, the US authorities would forgo imposing further tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese language merchandise being imported to the USA.

On a distinct observe, within the final a number of weeks, varied US authorities businesses have imposed new sanctions on China and corporations doing enterprise there associated to the federal government’s mistreatment of the Uyghurs. On October 1st, the US Commerce Division added 28 Chinese language organizations to the so-called Entity Listing, stopping US firms from promoting their merchandise with out US authorities approval.[8] These entities had been discovered to have been “implicated in human rights violations and abuses in China’s marketing campaign concentrating on Uyghurs and different predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities” in Xinjiang, and extra particularly, in “China’s marketing campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance.”[9] The record contains each authorities entities and personal firms that present surveillance and synthetic intelligence know-how.[10] In keeping with Professor Julian Ku of Hofstra College, this can be the primary time the Entity Listing has been used as a penalty for human rights violations.[11]


Individually, the US Customs and Border Safety company issued 5 Withhold Launch Orders banning merchandise that had been produced utilizing compelled labor. One firm on the record was the Hetian Taida Attire Firm in Xinjiang, which US officers decided was making attire merchandise utilizing jail or compelled labor.[12]


Reflecting related human rights considerations, the State Division on October eighth introduced visa restrictions on unnamed Chinese language authorities and Communist Get together officers “implicated within the detention or abuse of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, or different members of Muslim minority teams in Xinjiang.”[13]  The State Division cited the Chinese language authorities’s “extremely repressive marketing campaign” in opposition to Uyghurs and different Muslim minority residents of Xinjiang, and made particular reference to the “mass detentions in internment camps; pervasive, high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and spiritual identities; and coercion of people to return from overseas to an typically perilous destiny in China.”[14] By imposing these three classes of sanctions, the US authorities is signaling sturdy condemnation of the continued repression of the Uyghurs. 


Including rhetorical pressure to the administration’s varied actions, particular person officers have spoken out about mistreatment of the Uyghurs. Secretary of State Pompeo particularly has condemned the persecution of the Uyghurs, most lately ultimately month’s UN Basic Meeting. Secretary Pompeo advised reporters: “I need to clarify that China’s repressive marketing campaign in Xinjiang is just not about terrorism. It’s about China’s try and erase its personal residents. We name on all international locations to withstand China’s calls for to repatriate the Uyghurs.”[15] At a UN facet occasion, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan condemned the Chinese language authorities’s systematic marketing campaign “to cease its personal residents from exercising their unalienable proper to spiritual freedom.”[16]


However sanctions and powerful public admonitions have been undermined by the administration’s broader failure to prioritize human rights as a constant component of US overseas coverage. The administration’s continued unwillingness to acknowledge the position of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince within the Khashoggi homicide final 12 months is one obtrusive instance amongst many.[17] With out a constant dedication to selling human rights norms, the administration is much much less persuasive in its efforts to advertise compliance with these worldwide requirements in China and elsewhere.


This reluctance begins on the high. Repeatedly, the President has resisted speaking about human rights generally, and about Chinese language authorities violations particularly. In September, CNN reported that the President had assured President Xi that he wouldn’t elevate human rights points referring to Hong Kong whereas commerce talks are ongoing.[18] The results of this promise rippled by means of the administration: Kurt Tong, the then-US Consul Basic to Hong Kong and Macau, was directed by the State Division to cancel two speeches he deliberate to offer in Washington discussing the human rights scenario in Hong Kong.[19] On August 1st, when he was requested by reporters to touch upon the scenario in Hong Kong, the President demurred saying solely that the individuals of China and Hong Kong will “need to take care of that themselves. They don’t want recommendation.”[20]


The President’s cavalier and dismissive feedback about human rights in China and different locations are actually all too acquainted. On the Group of Seven summit final month, he referred to Egyptian President Sisi as “my favourite dictator,”[21] and earlier than their bilateral assembly in New York praised him as “an actual chief” who has “achieved some issues which are completely wonderful.”[22]  He lately characterised Saudi Crown Prince Salman as a “pal,” saying he’s achieved “a spectacular job.”[23] He has pledged “full assist” to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, saying he’s “doing an incredible job for the individuals of Brazil…in all respects.”[24] He nonetheless refuses to sentence the Russian occupation of Crimea and Russia’s continued interference in Ukraine’s democratic system and its assist of armed rebel forces within the Jap Ukraine. He has praised Vladimir Putin as a “terrific individual.”[25] And regardless of their tumultuous relationship, the President has referred to Kim Jong Un as being “very gifted.”[26] The record goes on and on.


The administration additionally continues to show its again on, and even undermine, multilateral approaches to human rights.  The Uyghur disaster offers a salient living proof. In February, ambassadors from 22 international locations signed a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council, calling on China to finish its mass detention and surveillance of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.[27] Australia, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Switzerland had been among the many signatories, however the United States was not.[28] On account of the American withdrawal from the Human Rights Council, we’re unable to steer multilateral efforts beneath the auspices of that physique. As a substitute, no authorities was the principal sponsor of this effort, a proven fact that little question weakened the impact of the assertion itself. This was a missed alternative to use world strain to the Chinese language authorities, a casualty of the administration’s go-it-alone strategy to diplomacy. The US authorities can and should do higher, and Congress must strain the administration to take extra decisive motion.


Congressional oversight, resembling what you’re doing right this moment, can have an actual impact. On Could ninth of final 12 months, Senator Rubio and Consultant Smith despatched a letter to the US Commerce Secretary demanding solutions concerning the sale by US firms of surveillance know-how utilized by Chinese language safety forces.[29] On August twenty eighth of 2018, the chairs despatched a bipartisan letter, signed by 17 legislators, urging swift motion by the chief department in response to the systematic discrimination and arbitrary detention of Turkic Muslim minorities.[30] Each letters had been little question instrumental in attaining the current sanctions and exemplify one of many methods Congress can maintain the administration accountable. Extra lately, the Senate handed the Uyghur Human Rights Coverage Act of 2019, calling on our bodies inside the US authorities to organize experiences on China’s therapy of the Uyghurs.[31] The Uighur Intervention and International Humanitarian Unified Response Act has additionally been launched within the Home, referring to sourcing restrictions and export controls.[32]  The adoption of some type of this laws might be an essential step in bringing consideration to the atrocities occurring in Xinjiang and can assist to make sure a considerate and cohesive response by the US authorities.

US firms doing enterprise in China even have a vital position to play with respect to human rights, however to this point, their document has been uneven. The attract of doing enterprise in and with China is clear.  In keeping with the World Financial institution, the Chinese language shopper market is now the third-biggest on the planet after the US and the EU.[33] China additionally continues to be the largest world producer of electronics, attire, toys, and plenty of different merchandise.[34] Given these financial realities, world firms will proceed to search for alternatives to do enterprise in China. All too typically, US firms have opted to pursue their financial pursuits, whereas paying inadequate consideration to how their phrases and actions have an effect on the broader human rights debate.


Final week’s confrontation between the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation and the Chinese language authorities is the most recent instance. After Daryl Morey, common supervisor of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his assist for human rights and democracy activists in Hong Kong,[35] the NBA launched starkly conflicting statements. The English-language model expressed assist for Moray’s freedom of speech whereas recognizing that his tweet had offended buddies and followers in China; a second assertion in Mandarin, posted on the NBA’s Chinese language social media account, mentioned the league was “extraordinarily disillusioned within the inappropriate remark.”[36]  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver subsequently reiterated the league’s dedication to free speech. [37]  As he did so, a Chinese language e-commerce platform, a sporting items model, and a sports activities information web site all suspended entry to items and protection associated to the Rockets, and Chinese language Tv introduced it could not broadcast NBA exhibition video games scheduled to be  performed in China.[38] Misplaced within the debate was the underlying query of how human rights in Hong Kong are being severely undermined by the Chinese language authorities.


There are particular obligations for US know-how firms working China. The Chinese language authorities continues to make use of superior know-how to stifle dissent and to intrude on the privateness of its individuals. Chinese language authorities have tried to justify this mass surveillance as a software to battle terrorism,[39] however most of what the system tracks has no relationship to threats of terrorism or extremism. A current Human Rights Watch report concerning the Chinese language authorities’s “Strike Arduous Marketing campaign” in Xinjiang highlights the dangers. In that area, the federal government has used what it calls the Built-in Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) to carry out sweeping surveillance of the Uyghurs and different members of the Turkic Muslim minority.[40] This app collects big quantities of private info, together with blood kind and different bodily traits, training degree, and spiritual and political affiliations. The IJOP additionally experiences on actions the federal government deems suspicious, resembling using encrypted communication instruments like WhatsApp and Viber.[41]


The IJOP surveils and collects knowledge on each individual in Xinjiang, monitoring their actions by monitoring the placement of their telephones, ID playing cards, and automobiles.  Data collected by means of the IJOP system is used as a foundation for home arrest or extra formal detention. Failure to hold a wise telephone can itself be a foundation for detention. In some reported circumstances, US firms and traders have performed a job on this system. Till it was publicly reported in February, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher offered DNA sequencers on to authorities in Xinjiang for genetic mapping.[42] California-based Amax, which makes a speciality of high-performance computing for deep-learning functions, partnered with Hikvision—now on the Entity Listing, as properly. Hikvision is without doubt one of the world’s largest producers of facial recognition and surveillance tools,[43] and the corporate has gained a number of security-related contracts from the Chinese language authorities in Xinjiang, totaling $260 million.[44] One contract was for a “social prevention and management system” characteristic on tens of hundreds of cameras.[45]


Some US know-how firms have weighed the dangers of doing enterprise in China and declined to pursue points of their enterprise there.  Google, for instance, did the appropriate factor in 2010 when it withdrew from China within the face of intensive authorities interference with free expression.[46] So far, the foremost web platforms, Google,[47] Fb[48] and Twitter have restricted their companies in China given the federal government’s poor document on free speech and privateness.[49] Microsoft has been an business chief in crafting safeguards referring to facial recognition.[50]  The corporate even took down its public facial recognition database when experiences surfaced that Chinese language firms, together with Megvii and SenseTime, each newly-added to the Entity Listing, had been utilizing the database to coach their facial recognition techniques.[51]


But it surely was disappointing to see Apple take away pro-democracy songs from its Chinese language music retailer,[52] and Taiwan’s flag from its iOS emoji library for customers in Hong Kong and Macau.[53] Apple’s Chinese language iCloud associate, Guizhou-Cloud Large Knowledge, lately made a deal to maneuver person knowledge to servers operated by state-run China Telecom.[54] Apple’s additionally eliminated the HKMap.Stay app, thereby depriving Hong Kong residents of the capability to trace on-line the websites of demonstrations and police actions.[55] All of those actions appear guided by the corporate’s need to protect its standing with the Chinese language authorities. Apple maintains that they’re merely following native regulation.[56] This alone is just not a tenable path. As a substitute, Apple and different know-how firms must develop company-endorsed human rights insurance policies that tackle privateness, free expression and different rights points, utilizing worldwide norms as a baseline.  Such insurance policies will assist companies make these difficult selections in a extra constant and principled method.


Traders should additionally face these questions head on. A spread of US traders have been offering capital to Megvii and SenseTime. In keeping with one report, amongst US-based establishments with stakes in these two Chinese language companies, “public pension funds are the biggest committers of capital.”[57] Megvii representatives advised Buzzfeed Information that the corporate doesn’t “have any entry to the IJOP platform or the [Chinese] nationwide ID database.”[58] And whereas the corporate additionally assured Buzzfeed that it requires purchasers to not use its know-how for the infringement of human rights, it didn’t present particulars of the way it enforces this dedication.[59]  US traders must undertake extra stringent safeguard to keep away from contributing capital to Chinese language firms which are concerned in surveillance and associated data-gathering, particularly in Xinjiang.


China and the US compete fiercely for financial and political affect in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. However the two the international locations—together with their firms and traders—should discover methods to work together that enable for peaceable, fruitful competitors and maybe, once in a while, cooperation. As I discovered in authorities, saying that is straightforward; doing it is vitally laborious. However the US authorities and American companies should discover methods to navigate this terrain, permitting financial and political cooperation when it’s mutually useful, whereas at all times standing firmly in assist of common human rights rules.  














[14] Id.





[19] Id.

[20] Id.















[35] activities/2019/10/07/nba-china-tweet-daryl-morey/


[37] activities/2019/10/07/nba-china-tweet-daryl-morey/














[51] material/7d3e0d6a-87a0-11e9-a028-86cea8523dc2







[58] Id.

[59] Id.



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