Front groups set tone for tomorrow’s UN review of China’s rights record

Cuba, Venezuela, Sri Lanka support phony Chinese NGO event

GENEVA, Oct. 21, 2013 – On the eve of the UN Human Rights Council’s review of China’s human rights record, a panel was held today at UNHRC headquarters by Chinese “non-governmental” organizations, who showered China with praise for its supposed civil society progress.

It has become commonplace at the United Nations for authoritarian governments to accredit front groups as NGOs, who then take the floor or organize side to influence UN debates on the country concerned. They are known as phony NGOs, or “GONGOs” — government-run NGOs.

Today’s phony NGO panel  was organized by “China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE),” a UN-accredited NGO.

They were joined by the “China Association for NPO (non-profit organizations),” the “Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Hebei Province,” and the “China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture and China Ethnic Minorities Association for External Exchanges.”

Panelists spoke of the “booming and changing” development of NGOs in China, claiming there are 506,000 social organizations and one to three million grass-roots NGOs active in China today. These promote economic development by focusing on education, social service, agriculture, ecological environment, law and religion, it was said. These organizations exercise autonomy as long as they work in accordance with the law and that the functions of the government are separated from those of social organizations.

At the end of the presentation, as if on cue, diplomats from Cuba, Venezuela and Sri Lanka — major allies of the Chinese regime — took the floor to praised the Chinese GONGOs for their active civil society. Cuba reaffirmed the importance of having such a genuine dialogue about civil society in China, and commended the government and people of China for all that has been done in the field of human rights.

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