China elected to UN Human Rights Council - RTHK
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China elected to UN Human Rights Council

2020-10-14 HKT 09:30
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  • Beijing has been condemned by Western countries for its handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. File image: Shutterstock
    Beijing has been condemned by Western countries for its handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. File image: Shutterstock
China has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, but support for Beijing dropped by more than 20 percent compared with a 2016 vote.

The 193-member UN General Assembly also elected Russia, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Malawi, Cuba, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, France and Britain to the 47-member council. Senegal, Nepal, Pakistan, Ukraine and Mexico were re-elected for a second three-year term. Council members cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.

Candidates are elected by secret ballot in geographical groups to ensure even representation. The Asia-Pacific group, which included Saudi Arabia, was the only competitive race on Tuesday with five candidates vying for four seats. The new members will begin their term on Jan. 1, 2021.

"Saudi Arabia's failure to win a seat on the Human Rights Council is a welcome reminder of the need for more competition in UN elections. Had there been additional candidates, China, Cuba and Russia might have lost too," said Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau.

While China was elected with 139 votes, its support fell more than 20 percent compared to the last time it won a seat in 2016.

Beijing has been criticised internationally for its human rights records. Most recently China has been condemned by Western countries for its handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the SAR's national security law, as well as its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

US President Donald Trump's administration quit the Human Rights Council in 2018 - half way through its term - over what it called chronic bias against Israel and a lack of reform.

"The U.N. General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday. "These elections only further validate the US decision to withdraw and use other venues and opportunities to protect and promote universal human rights." (Reuters)