Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., on Sunday lambasted the United Nations after its human rights office thanked China for giving an $800,000 donation, saying American tax dollars shouldn’t be funding the U.N. if the international organization “wants to continue shilling” for the Chinese government.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the self-described “leading U.N. entity on human rights,” thanked China on Twitter for donating money and invited others to financially support its human rights work as well.
Banks, a member of the newly established House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), slammed the U.N. for its tweet.
“Pathetic!” he wrote. “If the [U.N.] wants to continue shilling for the #CCP, American tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it.”
The U.S. is the single largest financial contributor to the U.N. system, contributing more than $12.5 billion – or roughly a quarter of funding for the body’s collective budget – in 2021, the most recent year with full available data.
As for 2023, the U.N.’s regular budget, which funds just the core administrative costs of the organization (including human rights entities), is $3.4 billion. The U.S. is assessed to pay 22% of that amount, the highest of any U.N. member, followed by China (15.25%) and Japan (8.03%).
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Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, responded to the tweet by saying, “Imaging thinking this org is of value to Americans.”
Julie Millsap, the government affairs manager for the Uyghur Human Rights Project, was left speechless by the tweet.
“Seriously?” tweeted Michael Sobolik, a fellow in Indo-Pacific Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.
Despite such strong U.S. financial support, experts in recent years have noted China’s influence in the U.N. has increased significantly.
“Across the U.N. system, China is punching above its weight. Until recently, a Chinese national led more U.N. specialized agencies than any other nation,” Brett Schaefer and Michael Cunningham of the Heritage Foundation wrote last September. “China is routinely elected to a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, and that body – the most prestigious human rights organization in the U.N. system – has never passed a condemnatory resolution on China’s well-documented human rights violations.”
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The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the State Department under both the Trump and Biden administrations have assessed China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Since 2017, the Chinese government has reportedly imprisoned more than a million Uyghurs in concentration camps, where, according to leaked documents from inside China, detainees are subjected to rape, torture, forced labor, brainwashing and forced sterilization.
Last August, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a damning report on human rights concerns in Xinjiang. Weeks later, however, the U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly rejected holding a debate on the report.
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Eventually, 50 countries released a joint statement condemning Chinese persecution and calling for U.N. action to hold China accountable.