The 53 countries supporting China's crackdown on Hong Kong - Axios

Dueling statements at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva shed light on geopolitical currents far beyond the walls of that institution.

Driving the news: China's Foreign Ministry and state media declared victory after 53 countries backed Beijing's new national security law for Hong Kong. Just 27 criticized the law, which imposes harsh penalties for vaguely defined political crimes and is widely viewed as the death knell for Hong Kong's autonomy.

In the room: The two statements were read back to back in Tuesday's session, with Cuba supporting China and the U.K. representing the critics. China's other allies weren't named publicly until Axios obtained the list this morning.

The big picture: This is one of the clearest indications to date of which countries are challenging a rising superpower, at least on human rights, and which are lining up behind it.

Breaking it down

China's critics are concentrated in Europe and also include major democracies like Australia, Canada and Japan. All 27 are considered "free" in Freedom House's global ratings.

The full lists
Behind the scenes

Keith Harper, who served as America's representative to the council from 2014 to 2017, says America's absence is one major reason why the balance tipped so dramatically in China's favor.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, says China is attempting not only to silence critics of its record on human rights, but "to change the norms and the protocols of these institutions so that no state really can be held accountable."

The big picture

"One interesting question to ask is, ‘Who’s not on that list who has been on China’s team in the past, and why?'" says Richardson.

There's a price to pay for challenging China, even for major players on the international stage.

What to watch

The U.K. is the latest country to risk China's ire.

Go deeper: Hong Kong's fate is the future of globalism

https://www.axios.com/countries-supporting-china-hong-kong-law-0ec9bc6c-3aeb-4af0-8031-aa0f01a46a7c.html