Despite severe backlash from the US for electing ‘authoritarian regimes’, China won a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which is now expected to benefit Beijing’s key allies.
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In a meeting between Chinese diplomat and the Sri Lankan officials in Colombo, the Chinese diplomats pledged to strengthen economic ties with Sri Lanka and to defend the country at “international fora including United Nations Human Rights Council,” reported the Tamil Guardian.
H.E. Yang Jiechi will visit Sri Lanka on 8th-9th October, and meet with H.E. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa @GotabayaR and Hon. PM Mahinda Rajapaksa @PresRajapaksa to enhance bilateral friendship and cooperation under current situation.
— Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka (@ChinaEmbSL) October 7, 2020
Sri Lankan government has been accused of war crimes and of enabling several human rights violations during the 30 year-long ethnic conflicts between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils that ended in 2009. Several allegations are against high-level government officers.
The meeting between the Chinese diplomats and the Sri Lankan administration follows United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres raising concerns over intimidation of human rights activists by the Sri Lankan government.
Guterres said that he received a “large number of reports of incidents of intimidation and reprisals against individuals or groups seeking to cooperate or having cooperated with the United Nations”.
However, the Sri Lankan government has refuted all allegations saying that “the Security Forces and intelligence agencies are not engaged in monitoring any specific group of people in the country”.
The UNHRC concerns over the Sri Lankan government are also because the current Rajapaksa government has refused to follow through with “transitional justice” mechanisms and said that it doesn’t recognize the agreement for reconciliation signed by the previous government describing the agreement as “violating all democratic principles of governance”.
“I wish to place on record, Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of Resolution 40/1 on Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,” Minister of Foreign Relations Dinesh Gunawardena said in Geneva in February this year.
According to Palitha Kohona, a veteran diplomat and Sri Lanka’s next ambassador to Beijing speaking to Nikkei Asia, China has been a consistent ally of Sri Lanka and has been a great strength in international fora.
“The close bonds between the two countries will continue to strengthen and there is no doubt that we will be reliable friends in international fora.”