China's foreign ministry and state media have declared victory after 53 countries joined a statement at the UN Human Rights Council supporting Beijing's new national security law for Hong Kong — compared to 27 who criticized the law.
The big picture: The list of 53 countries was not initially published along with the statement, but has been obtained by Axios. It is made up primarily of autocratic states, including North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe.
- The dueling statements show a clear divide between the democratic powers attempting to pile pressure on China, and a second group standing behind Beijing's right to crack down as it sees fit.
The full lists:
- Supporting: China, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Opposing: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
- Worth noting: The U.S. has been highly critical of China over the law, but withdrew from the Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in 2018.
How it happened: The statement supporting China was issued by Cuba at a UNHCR session in Geneva on Tuesday, followed immediately by the statement criticizing the Chinese law, read by the U.K.
- The dividing line between the two blocs is defined less by the specifics of the Hong Kong law, and more by views on how human rights abuses around the world should be policed.
- China has been flexing its muscles in international forums like UNHCR to add countries to its column on issues like this one.
- The groups overlap significantly with those who supported or opposed China over the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, though, interestingly, both groups are larger this time around.