BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The United States should fulfill its commitment of "all men are created equal" with concrete actions, and adopt serious measures to truly help ethnic minorities get over their trauma, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.
Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a daily news briefing when asked to comment on a U.S. Interior Department report that at least 500 native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children died while in boarding schools operated or supported by the U.S. government.
"Such a report is long overdue," Zhao said. Prior to that, the U.S. government had never kept official statistics on the real conditions of these schools, or verified the number of Indigenous children who went to the institutions, died there or were missing.
In fact, the United States was reluctant to admit the existence of the history at first, and even tried to cover it up, Zhao added.
Zhao said that the report shows from 1819 to 1969, indigenous children went through unfair treatment including whipping, sexual abuse, forced labor and severe malnourishment in more than 400 federal Indian boarding schools, and more than 500 children died as a result.
Noting the United States is founded on the atrocious massacre and persecution of the indigenous population, Zhao said the maltreatment of Native Americans is the U.S. original sin convicted by the Indian boarding schools.
Native Americans used to be the dominant population in North America, but their population has shrunk to represent only 2 percent of the current U.S. population after massacre and eviction, Zhao said.
The United States adopted cultural assimilation and occupied Indian reservation with forced separation and resettlement of indigenous children, the spokesperson said, adding the trauma generations have gone through persists even till today.
Native Americans are still under discrimination with worrying health conditions and destitution. Among all the ethnic communities of the United States, Native Americans have the lowest life expectancy, the highest poverty rate, the highest rate of youth alcohol abuse, and the lowest community doctor-to-patient ratio. In 2019, about 25 percent of Native Americans lived in poverty, which is 2.5 times that of the national average, Zhao said.
"The dark history of Indian boarding schools is only a tip of the iceberg of the U.S.' systemic racial discrimination and human rights problems," he said.
Noting racial minorities including Americans of Asian, African, Latin American descent and Muslims still cannot breathe or gain security, Zhao said statistics from U.S. research institutions revealed that anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 339 percent in 2021.
From the "Tulsa Massacre" to George Floyd, and to Patrick Lyoya of Michigan who died of police violence not long ago, the list of African American deaths only grows amid racial discrimination, Zhao said.
People of Latin American descent, accounting for 19 percent of the U.S. population, only possess 2 percent of the country's wealth. Up to 93.7 percent of Muslims in the United States are living in the shadows of Islamophobia, he added.
"The United States should fulfill its commitment of 'all men are created equal' with concrete actions, and adopt serious measures to truly help ethnic minorities get over their trauma," Zhao said.
More importantly, the United States should learn from history, treat the social endemic of racism, and avoid repeating the human tragedies time and again, he added. ■