Human rights in the People's Republic of China: Wikis

  
  
  
  

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Arrests of protesting Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square.

Human rights in China are considered problematic by most Western countries and human rights organizations. Multiple sources, including the U.S. State Department's annual People's Republic of China human rights reports, as well as studies from other groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented the PRC's abuses of human rights in violation of internationally recognized norms.

The PRC government argues that the notion of human rights should include economic standards of living and measures of health and economic prosperity,[1] and notes progress in that area.[2]

Controversial human rights issues in China include policies such as capital punishment, the one-child policy, the social status of Tibetans, and lack of protections regarding freedom of press and religion.

A number of organizations work to create awareness and campaign for change with regard to human rights in China. These include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) and China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG).

Contents

Legal system

The Chinese government recognizes that there are problems with the current legal system,[3] such as:

  • A lack of laws in general, not just ones to protect civil rights.
  • A lack of due process.
  • Conflicts of law.[4]

As judges are appointed by the State and the judiciary as a whole does not have its own budget,[5] this has led to corruption and the abuse of administrative power.

Civil liberties

Freedom of speech

Although the 1982 constitution guarantees freedom of speech,[6] the Chinese government often uses the subversion of state power clause to imprison those who are critical of the government.[7] Also, there is very heavy government involvement in the media, with most of the largest media organizations being run directly by the government.[citation needed] Chinese law forbids the advocacy of independence or self-determination for territories Beijing considers under its jurisdiction[citation needed], as well as public challenge to the CCP's monopoly in ruling China. Thus references to certain controversial events and religious movements are blocked on the Internet and in many publications. PRC journalist He Qinglian in her 2004 book Media Control in China[8] examined government controls on the Internet in China[9] and on all media. Her book shows how PRC media controls rely on confidential guidance from the Communist Party propaganda department, intense monitoring, and punishment for violators rather than on pre-publication censorship.

Foreign internet search engines including Microsoft Bing!, Yahoo!, Google Search China[10] have come under criticism for aiding in these practices, including banning the word "Democracy" from its chat rooms in China. Yahoo! in particular, stated that it will not protect the privacy and confidentiality of its Chinese customers from the authorities,[11] and was criticised by Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders of having "taken on the role of censor."[12] In October 2008, Citizen Lab revealed that TOM Online's Chinese-language Skype software filtered sensitive words and then logged these messages to a file on non-secure computer servers. Skype president Josh Silverman said it was "common knowledge" that TOM had "established procedures to... block instant messages containing certain words deemed offensive by the Chinese authorities."[13]

Impact of the Olympics

Pro-Tibetan independence protests during the Olympic Torch Relay.

In anticipation of the 2008 Summer Olympics, China faced international criticism regarding its human rights record. China has acknowledged "the need to keep advancing human rights,"[14] and resumed a human rights dialog with the United States.[15] A number of foreign protesters were deported from China during the Games.[16] Others were detained until the closing ceremony and then deported.[17][18] An unauthorized protest by seven activists protesting about China's involvement in Tibet at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, blocking its entrance, was cleared away by the authorities.[19]

The Chinese government had promised to issue permits allowing people to protest in so-called 'protest parks' during the Games,[20] but on 18 August it was reported that of 77 applications, 74 were withdrawn, two suspended and one vetoed.[21][22] Two elderly Chinese women were reported to have been sentenced to "re-education through labour" for having applied for a permit.[23] The Chinese authorities stated they had no record of the sentences.[23] Their sentence was suspended subject to proper behaviour, and to restrictions on movement.[24] Furthermore, many human rights lawyers and political dissidents were rounded up; the armies of migrant workers who built the Olympic stadiums have been encouraged to leave town, lest their dishevelled appearances detract from the image of a clean, modern nation.[25]

A Chinese lawyer explained, "For Chinese petitioners, if their protest applications were approved, it would lead to a chain reaction of others seeking to voice their problems as well" and an academic observed that: "When you have guests coming over for dinner, you clean up the house and tell the children not to argue."[25]

Critics also argue that the Chinese authorities failed to live up to their promises on press freedom. ITV News reporter John Ray was arrested while covering a pro-Tibet protest.[19][26] Foreign journalists also reported that their access to certain websites, including those of human rights organisations, was restricted.[27][28] International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge stated at the end of the Games that "The regulations might not be perfect but they are a sea-change compared to the situation before. We hope that they will continue".[29] The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) issued a statement that "despite welcome progress in terms of accessibility and the number of press conferences within the Olympic facilities, the FCCC has been alarmed at the use of violence, intimidation and harassment outside. The club has confirmed more than 30 cases of reporting interference since the formal opening of the Olympic media centre on 25 July, and is checking at least 20 other reported incidents".[30]

Freedom of movement

The Communist Party came to power in the late 1940s and instigated a command economy. In 1958, Mao set up a residency permit system defining where people could work, and classified an individual as a "rural" or "urban" worker.[31] A worker seeking to move from the country to an urban area to take up non-agricultural work would have to apply through the relevant bureaucracies. The number of workers allowed to make such moves was tightly controlled.[citation needed] People who worked outside their authorized domain or geographical area would not qualify for grain rations, employer-provided housing, or health care.[32] There were controls over education, employment, marriage and so on.[31] One reason cited for instituting this system was to prevent the possible chaos caused by the predictable large-scale urbanization.[33] As a part of the one country, two systems policy proposed by Deng Xiaoping and accepted by the British and Portuguese governments, the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao retained separate border control and immigration policies with the rest of the PRC. Chinese citizens had to gain permission from the government before travelling to Hong Kong or Macau, but this requirement was abolished after the handover. Since then, restrictions imposed by the SAR governments have been the limiting factor on travel.

Urban dwellers enjoy a range of social, economic and cultural benefits while peasants, the majority of the Chinese population, are treated as second-class citizens, according to an academic at the University of Alberta.[34] The Washington Times reported in 2000 that although migrant labourers play an important part in spreading wealth in Chinese villages, they are treated "like second-class citizens by a system so discriminatory that it has been likened to apartheid."[35] Anita Chan also posits that China's household registration and temporary residence permit system has created a situation analogous to the passbook system in South Africa which was designed to regulate the supply of cheap labor.[36] In 2000, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has alleged that people of Han descent in Tibet have a far easier time acquiring the necessary permits to live in urban areas than ethnic Tibetans do.[37]

Abolition of this policy was proposed in 11 provinces, mainly along the developed eastern coast. The law has already been changed such that migrant workers no longer face summary arrest, after a widely publicised incident in 2003, when a university-educated migrant died in Guangdong province. The Beijing law lecturer who exposed the incident said it spelt the end of the hukou system: in most smaller cities, the system has been abandoned; it has "almost lost its function" in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.[34]

Treatment of rural workers

In November 2005 Jiang Wenran, acting director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, said this system was one of the most strictly enforced 'apartheid' structures in modern world history.[38] He stated "Urban dwellers enjoy a range of social, economic and cultural benefits while peasants, the majority of the Chinese population, are treated as second-class citizens".[38]

The discrimination enforced by the hukou system became particularly onerous in the 1980s after hundreds of millions of migrant laborers were forced out of state corporations and co-operatives.[39] The system classifies workers as "urban" or "rural",[32][40] and attempts by workers classified as "rural" to move to urban centers were tightly controlled by the Chinese bureaucracy, which enforced its control by denying access to essential goods and services such as grain rations, housing, and health care,[32] and by regularly closing down migrant workers' private schools.[39] The hukou system also enforced pass laws similar to those in South Africa,[36][41] with "rural" workers requiring six passes to work in provinces other than their own,[39] and periodic police raids which rounded up those without permits, placed them in detention centers, and deported them.[41] As in South Africa, the restrictions placed on the mobility of migrant workers were pervasive,[39] and transient workers were forced to live a precarious existence in company dormitories or shanty towns, and suffering abusive consequences.[36] Anita Chan furthers that China's household registration and temporary residence permit system has created a situation analogous to the passbook system in apartheid South Africa, which were designed to regulate the supply of cheap labor.[31][32][36][40][42][43]

David Whitehouse divides what he describes as "Chinese apartheid" into three distinct phases: The first phase occurred during the state capitalist phase of China's economy, from around 1953 to the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. The second "neoliberal" phase lasted from 1978 to 2001, and the third lasted from 2001 to the present. During the first phase, the exploitation of rural labor, the passbook system, and in particular the non-portable rights associated with one's status, created what Whitehouse calls "an apartheid system". As with South Africa, the ruling party made some concessions to rural workers to make life in rural areas "survivable... if not easy or pleasant". During the second phase, as China transitioned from state capitalism to market capitalism, export-processing zones were created in city suburbs, where mostly female migrants worked under oppressive sweatshop conditions. The third phase was characterized by the weakening of the hukou controls; by 2004 the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture counted over 100 million people registered as "rural" working in cities.[44]

Au Loong-yu, Nan Shan, and Zhang Ping of the Committee for Asian Women argue this system oppresses women more severely than men,[45] and see seven distinct elements giving rise to what they describe as "the regime of spatial and social apartheid" which keeps rural Chinese in their subordinate status:

  1. The repressive regime at the factory level;
  2. the paramilitary forces at local level;
  3. the ‘local protectionism’ of local governments;
  4. the fiercely pro-business and pro-government attitude of the local press;
  5. the fiercely pro-business and pro-government attitude of the branches of ACFTU;
  6. pro-government local courts; and
  7. the discriminatory hukou system.[46]

They agree that the gradual relaxation of some of the more repressive aspects of the hukou system since the mid-1990s has largely eliminated the spatial aspect of the apartheid; for example, workers can now buy one year permits to reside in cities, and since 2003 the police no longer jail and deport people who lack local hukou passes. However, they point out the still-hereditary nature of the hukou system, and state that the "substance of the social apartheid in general and the hukou system in particular remains intact." Migrant workers are permanently marked as outsiders and remain second-class citizens, and are denied access to good jobs or upward mobility, thus forcing their eventual return to their place of origin.[47]

Whitehouse sees the analogy to South Africa's apartheid system breaking down in two areas: First, under a system called xia xiang, or "sending down", individuals or even entire factories of urban workers were sometimes re-classified as rural workers and sent to live in the countryside (at lower wages and benefits). By contrast, white workers in South Africa were never sent to work in Bantustans. Second, the ideology driving China's apartheid system was Maoism, not racism, as is South African apartheid.[44] Anita Chan agrees with Whitehouse on this point, noting that while the hukou system shares many of the characteristics of the South African apartheid system, including its underlying economic logic, the racial element is not present.[36]

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security justified these practices on the grounds that they assisted the police in tracking down criminals and maintaining public order, and provided demographic data for government planning and programs.[48]

"Rural" workers are required to have six passes to work in provinces other than their own.[39] Those without permits are rounded up by police, placed in detention centers, and deported.[41] Restrictions placed on the mobility of migrant workers were pervasive,[39] and some transient workers were forced to live a precarious existence in company dormitories or shanty towns, and suffering abusive consequences.[36] The system, which has targeted China's 800 million rural peasants for decades, has been described by journalists Peter Alexander and Anita Chan as "China's apartheid".[40][49]

According to Peter Alexander and Anita Chan, China's export-oriented growth has been based on the labor of poorly paid and treated migrant workers, using a pass system similar to the one used in South Africa's apartheid, in which massive abuses of human rights have been observed.[50]

An article in The Washington Times, reported in 2000 that although migrant laborers play an important part in spreading wealth in Chinese villages, they are treated "like second-class citizens by a system so discriminatory that it has been likened to apartheid."[35]

The Chinese embassy in South Africa posted a letter to the editor of The Star dated 22 February 2007 , under the title Article on China presents racism rumours as fact, in which a reader stated that "It's pure incitement to proclaim 'Chinese apartheid' in reference to migrant labour being kept out of the cities."[51]

Religious freedom

During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), particularly the Destruction of Four Olds campaign, religious affairs of all types were persecuted and discouraged by the Communists with many religious buildings looted and destroyed. Since then, there have been efforts to repair, reconstruct and protect historical and cultural religious sites.[52] The US department of state criticizes in its human rights report 2005 that not enough has been done to repair or restore damaged and destroyed sites.[53]

The 1982 Constitution technically guarantees its citizens the right to believe in any religion.[54] However this freedom differs from the general concept of "freedom of religion" as recognised in the West, and is subject to restrictions.

Members of the Communist Party are officially required to be atheists.[55] While many party members privately violate this rule,[56] being openly religious can limit their economic prospects. All religious groups must be registered with the government. In addition, the government continually tries to maintain control over not only religious content, but also leadership choices.[citation needed]

Christianity

The government tries to maintain tight control over all religions, so the only legal Christian groups (Three-Self Patriotic Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association) are those under the Communist Party control. It has been claimed by many that the teachings in the state-approved Churches are at least monitored and sometimes modified by the Party.[citation needed]

The "official Catholic" metropolitan bishop appointed in China in 2007 to replace the deceased Fu Tieshan was not made by the Pope as is customary.[57] The Catholic Church in particular is viewed as a foreign power in a situation somewhat analogous to that in Post-Reformation England, and so the official church in China is state-controlled; accordingly this above-ground Chinese church is considered a schismatic group by the wider Church; there exists also an illegal and underground "real-Catholic" community still loyal to the Pope and the wider Church.[58] According to the Voice of the Martyrs, the growth of organised religious groups in China is tempered by state controls and regulations which prevent the rise of groups or sources of authority outside the control of the Government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It stated that "Unregistered religious groups [in China] ... experience varying degrees of official interference, harassment, and repression." Its crackdown on Falun Gong is cited as the group being a perceived threat to the regime.[59])

Tibetan Buddhism

The government now claims the power to ensure that no new 'living Buddha' can be identified: the State Administration for Religious Affairs issued a 14-part regulation to limit the influence of the Dalai Lama. It declared that after 1 September 2007, "[no] living Buddha [may be reincarnated] without government approval, since Qing dynasty, when the live Buddha system was established.".[60] When the Dalai Lama announced in May 1995 that a search inside Tibet had identified the eleventh reincarnation of the Panchen Lama who died in 1989, Beijing initiated its own search under the supervision of a senior Politburo member. The boy chosen by the Dalai Lama, and the abbot who helped with the choice, both vanished.[60] The child is believed to have spent the years since then under house arrest; all calls for visitation or for his release have been ignored. The Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama is branded a fake by loyalists.[61] Examples of the political controls exercised are:[62]

  • quotas on the number of monks to reduce the spiritual population
  • forced denunciation of the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader
  • unapproved monks' expulsion from monasteries
  • forced recitation of patriotic scripts supporting China
  • Restriction of religious study before age 18.

Monks celebrating the reception of the US Congressional Gold Medal by the Dalai Lama have been detained;[63] Drepung, once a large temple for over 10,000 monks, is now home to only 600; Beijing now restricts total membership in any monastery to 700.[62]

Falun Gong

On 20 July 1999, the government banned Falun Gong and all 'heterodox religions', and began a nationwide crackdown of the popular new religious movement[64] following a demonstration by 10,000 practitioners outside the leadership enclave at Zhongnanhai on 25 April.[65] Protests in Beijing were frequent for the first few years following the 1999 edict, though these protests have largely been eradicated.[66] Practitioners have occasionally hacked into state television channels to broadcast pro-Falun Gong materials. Outside of mainland China, practitioners are active in appealing to the governments, media, and people of their respective countries about the situation in China.

According to Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ian Denis Johnson, the government mobilized every aspect of society, including the media apparatus, police force, army, education system, families and workplaces, against Falun Gong.[66] An extra-constitutional body, the "6-10 Office" was created to do what Forbes describes as "[overseeing] the terror campaign."[67] The campaign was driven by large-scale propaganda through television, newspaper, radio and internet.[68] Human Rights Watch noted that families and workplaces were urged to cooperate with the government, while practitioners themselves were subject to various coercive measures to have them recant their beliefs.[69] Amnesty International raised particular concerns over reports of torture, illegal imprisonment including forced labour, psychiatric abuses.[70][71]

In March 2006, Falun Gong and The Epoch Times alleged that the Chinese government and its agencies, including the People's Liberation Army, were conducting "widespread and systematic organ harvesting of living practitioners" specifically at the Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital in Shenyang according to two apparent eye-witness allegations that practitioners detained in the hospital's basement were being tissue-typed, and killed to order.[72] In July 2006, David Kilgour and David Matas, sponsored by Falun Gong to investigate the allegations, published a report which they admitted the evidence was circumstantial, but which taken together supported the allegations that large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners were victims of systematic organ harvesting whilst still alive.[73]

The Chinese government categorically denied any mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners, and a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman denounced the organ harvesting allegations as "absurd lies concocted by the Falun Gong cult followers".[74] Dissident Harry Wu said the two Epoch Times witnesses were "not reliable and most probably they had fabricated the story"; he rejected the totality of the allegations after sending in investigators.[75] A Congressional Research Service said that there was "insufficient evidence to support this specific allegation," without elaboration.[76] David Ownby, a noted expert on Falun Gong, said "Organ harvesting is happening in China, but I see no evidence proving it is aimed particularly at Falun Gong practitioners."[77] Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen said "Depending on who you believe, the Kilgour-Matas report is either compelling evidence that proves the claims about Falun Gong... or a collection of conjecture and inductive reasoning that fails to support its own conclusions".[78]

Political freedom

The PRC is known for its intolerance of organized dissent towards the government. Dissident groups are routinely arrested and imprisoned, often for long periods of time and without trial. Incidents of torture, forced confessions and forced labour are widely reported. Freedom of assembly and association is extremely limited. The most recent mass movement for political freedom was crushed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the estimated death toll of which ranges from about 200 to 10,000 depending on sources.[79][80]

One of the most famous dissidents is Zhang Zhixin, who is known for standing up against the ultra-left.[81] In October 2008, the government denounced the European Parliament's decision to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Hu Jia, on grounds that it was "gross interference in China's domestic affairs" to give such an award to a "jailed criminal.. in disregard of our repeated representations."[82]

In Dec. 8, 2008, two days before the release of Chapter 8, Liu Xiaobo was arrested. He along with three hundred and two other Chinese citizens, signed Charter 08, a manifesto released on the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 2009), written in the style of the Czechoslovakian Charter 77 calling for greater freedom of expression, human rights, and for free elections.[6] As of May 2009, the Charter has collected over 9,000 signatures from Chinese of various walks of life.

On 17 Oct 2009, Reuters reported that Guo Quan a professor in Nanjing Teachers University was sentenced to 10 years in jail for "inciting Subversion" of Government. There are more than 40 people in jail for critizing the government.

Legislation

One-child policy

Government sign stating: "For a prosperous, powerful nation and a happy family, please use birth planning."

China's birth control policy, known widely as the one-child policy, was implemented in 1979 by the Chinese government to alleviate the overpopulation problem. Having more than one child is illegal and punishable by fines. Voice of America cites critics who argue that it contributes to forced abortions, human rights violations, female infanticide, abandonment and sex-selective abortions, believed to be relatively commonplace in some areas of the country.[83] This is thought to have been a significant contribution to the gender imbalance in mainland China, where there is a 118 to 100 ratio of male to female children reported.[84][85][86] Forced abortions and sterilizations have also been reported.[87][88]

It is also argued that the one-child policy is not effective enough to justify its costs, and that the dramatic decrease in Chinese fertility started before the program began in 1979 for unrelated factors. The policy seems to have had little impact on rural areas (home to about 80% of the population), where birth rates never dropped below 2.5 children per female.[89] Nevertheless, the Chinese government and others estimate that at least 250 million births have been prevented by the policy.[90]

In 2002, the laws related to the One-child policy were amended to allow ethnic minorities and Chinese living in rural areas to have more than one child. The policy was generally not enforced in those areas of the country even before this. The policy has been relaxed in urban areas to allow people who were single children to have two children.[91]

Capital punishment

China executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined.[92] According to the United Nations Secretary-General, between 1994 and 1999 China was ranked seventh in executions per capita, behind Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Sierra Leone, Kyrgyzstan, and Jordan.[93] Amnesty International claims that real figures are much higher than official ones, stating that in China the statistics are considered State secrets.

Amnesty International reports that, in recent years, China has had the highest number of executions of any country. Figures from 2006 and 2007 are reported to have been 1,010 and 470 executions, respectively.[94][95][96] In January 2007, China's state media announced that all death penalty cases will be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court. Since 1983, China's highest court did not review all cases. This marks a return to China's pre-1983 policy.[97] In light of these changes, figures from 2007 display a substantial reduction in executions with only 470 reported executions compared with figures from previous years. Amnesty International analysts argue that this drop is only temporary since the figure includes only confirmed executions and are likely to be much higher.[98] As of 2008, China is still the country with the highest number of executions. 1,718 people have been executed in 2008 out of 2,390 worldwide.[99]

A total of 68 crimes are punishable by death; capital offenses include non-violent, white-collar crimes such as embezzlement and tax fraud. Execution methods include lethal injections and shooting.[99] The People's Armed Police carries out the executions, usually at 10am.[100]

Discrimination

Ethnic minorities

See also: Racism in the People's Republic of China

There are 55 recognized ethnic minorities in China. Article 4 of the Chinese constitution states "All nationalities in the People's Republic of China are equal", and the government argues that it has made efforts to improve ethnic education and increased ethnic representation in local government.

Some policies cause reverse racism, where Han Chinese or even ethnic minorities from other regions are treated as second-class citizens in the ethnic region.[101][102]

There are also wide-ranging preferential policies (i.e. affirmative actions) in place to promote social and economic developments for ethnic minorities, including preferential employments, political appointments, and business loans.[103] Universities typically have quota reserved for ethnic minorities despite having lower admission test scores.[104] Ethnic minorities are also exempt from the one-child policy which is aimed toward Han Chinese.

However, the government is harsh toward those that argue for independence or political autonomy, mainly Tibetans and Uyghurs in rural provinces in the west of China. Some groups have used terrorism to push their agenda.[105]

Five Chinese Uyghur detainees from the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camp were released in June, 2007, but the U.S. refused to return them to China citing the People's Republic of China's "past treatment of the Uigur minority".[106] Critics of the Chinese government claim that it engages in cultural and political suppression of various ethnic minorities, such as Tibetans, and encourages Han Chinese to migrate to areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet to increase those regions' loyalty to Beijing, which results in the indigenous population losing jobs to the new arrivals.

Tibet

In 1951, the People's Liberation Army entered the region of Tibet. After the failed uprising of 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India. In 1991 the Dalai Lama alleged that Chinese settlers in Tibet were creating "Chinese Apartheid":

The new Chinese settlers have created an alternate society: a Chinese apartheid which, denying Tibetans equal social and economic status in our own land, threatens to finally overwhelm and absorb us.[107][108]

In a selection of speeches by the Dalai Lama published in India in 1998, he referred again to a "Chinese apartheid", which he argued denied Tibetans equal social and economic status, and furthered the viewpoint that human rights were violated by discrimination against Tibetans under a policy which the Chinese called "segregation and assimilation".[109][110] According to the Heritage Foundation:

If the matter of Tibet's sovereignty is murky, the question about the PRC's treatment of Tibetans is all too clear. After invading Tibet in 1950, the Chinese communists killed over one million Tibetans, destroyed over 6,000 monasteries, and turned Tibet's northeastern province, Amdo, into a gulag housing, by one estimate, up to ten million people. A quarter of a million Chinese troops remain stationed in Tibet. In addition, some 7.5 million Chinese have responded to Beijing's incentives to relocate to Tibet; they now outnumber the 6 million Tibetans. Through what has been termed Chinese apartheid, ethnic Tibetans now have a lower life expectancy, literacy rate, and per capita income than Chinese inhabitants of Tibet.[111]

In 2001 representatives of Tibet exile groups succeeded in gaining accreditation at a United Nations-sponsored meeting of non-governmental organizations. On 29 August Jampal Chosang, the head of the Tibetan coalition, stated that China had introduced "a new form of apartheid" in Tibet because "Tibetan culture, religion, and national identity are considered a threat" to China.[112] The Tibet Society of the UK has called on the British government to "condemn the apartheid regime in Tibet that treats Tibetans as a minority in their own land and which discriminates against them in the use of their language, in education, in the practice of their religion, and in employment opportunities."[113]

Other human rights issues

Worker's rights and privacy are other contentious human rights issues in China. There have been several reports of core International Labor Organization conventions being denied to workers. One such report was released by the International Labor Rights Fund in October 2006 documenting minimum wage violations, long work hours, and inappropriate actions towards workers by management.[114] Workers cannot form their own unions in the workplace, only being able to join State-sanctioned ones. The extent to which these organizations can fight for the rights of Chinese workers is disputed.[115]

Although the Chinese government does not interfere with Chinese people's privacy as much as it used to,[116] it still deems it necessary to keep tabs on what people say in public. Internet forums are strictly monitored, as is international postal mail (this is sometimes inexplicably "delayed" or simply "disappears") and e-mail.[115]

The issue of refugees from North Korea is a recurring one. It is official policy to repatriate them to North Korea, but the policy is not evenly enforced and a considerable number of them stay in the People's Republic (some move on to other countries). Though it is in contravention of international law to deport political refugees, as illegal immigrants their situation is precarious. Their rights are not always protected.[117] Some of them are tricked into marriage or prostitution.[118]

African students in China have complained about their treatment in China, that was largely ignored until 1988-9, when "students rose up in protest against what they called 'Chinese apartheid'".[119] African officials took notice of the issue, and the Organization of African Unity issued an official protest. The organization's chairman, Mali's president Moussa Traoré, went on a fact-finding mission to China.[119] According to a Guardian 1989 Third World Report titled "Chinese apartheid" threatens links with Africa, these practices could threaten Peking's entire relationship with the continent."[120]

In 2005 Manfred Nowak visited China as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. After spending two weeks there, he observed that it was "on the decline, but still widespread." He also complained of Chinese officials interfering with his research, including intimidating people he sought to interview.[121]

International

Darfur

Human rights organizations have criticized China for its supportive relationship with the government of Sudan, which is committing mass killings in Darfur.[122][123] China is Sudan's largest economic partner, with a 40% share in their oil,[124] and also sells small arms to Sudan.[125] China has threatened to veto UN Security Council actions to combat the Darfur crisis.[126]

China has responded to these criticisms by arguing that, "As the Darfur issue is not an internal affair of China, nor was it caused by China, to link the two together is utterly unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair."[127]

In July 2008, the BBC reported that China is training fighter pilots for and selling army lorries to Sudan, in violation of the 2006 arms embargo.[128]

Counterarguments

The Government of the People's Republic of China has argued that idea of "Asian values"[129] means that the "welfare" of the collective should always be put ahead of the rights of any individual whenever conflicts between these arise. It argues that there is a responsibility of the government to create a "harmonious society",[130] and that in some cases it is necessary to persuade or force individuals to make sacrifices in their rights for the wider needs of society. It argues that a strong and stable authority is required in order to regulate the potentially conflicting interests of the public and enforce a compromise and that Governments with curtailed authority would fail to take on such a responsibility.

The Chinese government points towards an alleged rapid social deterioration in western societies, claiming that there has been an increase in: geographic, religious and racial segregation, rising crime rates, family breakdown industrial action, vandalism and political extremism within western societies, which they believe to be a direct result of an excess of individual freedom saying that “Too much freedom is dangerous.”[131] These issues they argue are all violations of human rights and should be taken into account when assessing a country's human right records. Furthermore, the government criticizes the United States, which publishes human rights reports annually, by insisting that the United States has also caused human rights abuses such as the invasion of Iraq.[132]

The PRC government also argues that the notion of human rights should include economic standards of living and measures of health and economic prosperity.[1] On cultural grounds they argue that as the economic, cultural and political situations differ substantially between countries, a universal 'one-size-fits-all' definition of human rights should not apply internationally.

Reform

In March 2003, an amendment was made to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, stating "The State respects and preserves human rights."[133] In addition, China was dropped from a list of top 10 human rights violators in the annual human rights report released by the U.S. State Department in 2008, while the report indicated that there were still widespread problems in China.[134]

Since 1988, the Chinese government began direct village elections to help maintain social and political order whilst facing rapid economic change. Elections now occur in "about 650,000 villages across China, reaching 75% of the nation's 1.3 billion people," according to the Carter Center.[135] In 2008, Shenzhen –which enjoys the highest per capita GDP in China– was selected for experimentation, and over 70% of the government officials on the district level are to be directly elected.[136] However, in keeping with Communist Party philosophy, candidates must be selected from a pre-approved list.[137]

See also

Further reading

  • Cheng, Lucie, Rossett, Arthur and Woo, Lucie, East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures, RoutledgeCurzon, 2003, ISBN 0-415-29735-4
  • Edwards, Catherine, China's Abuses Ignored for Profit, Insight on the News, Vol. 15, 20 December 1999.
  • Foot, Rosemary, Rights beyond Borders: The Global Community and the Struggle over Human Rights in China, Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-198-29776-9
  • Jones, Carol A.G., Capitalism, Globalization and Rule of Law: An Alternative Trajectory of Legal Change in China, Social and Legal Studies, vol. 3 (1994) pp. 195–220
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Notes

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  2. ^ "Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 1996". March 1997. http://www.china.org.cn/e-white/prhumanrights1996/index.htm. 
  3. ^ "Belkin, Ira" (Fall, 2000). "China's Criminal Justice System: A Work in Progress" (PDF). Washington Journal of Modern China 6 (2). http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/Chinas_Criminal_Justice_System.pdf. 
  4. ^ "Varieties of Conflict of Laws in China". 25 November 2002. http://www.humanrights.uio.no/forskning/publikasjoner/wp/2002/02/working_paper-Varietie.html. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  5. ^ Yardley, Jim (28 November 2005). "A young judge tests China's legal system". http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/28/news/judge.php. Retrieved 2006-08-23. 
  6. ^ "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration." [1]
  7. ^ "China jails rights activist outspoken on Tibet". http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSPEK10194620080403. 
  8. ^ [2] Media Control in China published in Chinese in 2004 by Human Rights in China, New York. Revised edition 2006 published by Liming Cultural Enterprises of Taiwan. Accessed 4 February 2007.
  9. ^ [3] "The Hijacked Potential of China's Internet", English translation of a chapter in the 2006 revised edition of Media Control in China published in Chinese by Liming Enterprises of Taiwan in 2006. Accessed 4 February 2007
  10. ^ "Sanity check: How Microsoft beat Linux in China and what it means for freedom, justice, and the price of software". http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=525. 
  11. ^ Gunther, Marc. Tech execs get grilled over mainland China business: Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco, facing attack in Congress, say they're doing more good than harm in China." CNN. 16 February 2006.
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  13. ^ China 'spying on Skype messages', BBC News (3 October 2008)
  14. ^ China devoted to improving human rights - minister
  15. ^ China Set to Resume Human Rights Dialogue - washingtonpost.com
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    China's household registration system (HRS) maintains a rigid distinction between China's rural population, that is people who have a rural hukou (household registration), and urban residents, who have an urban hukou. Movement of rural people into the cities is restricted, and they require a permit to stay and work temporarily in any urban area. If caught without these permits, people with a rural hukou could be placed in a detention centre, fined, and deported back to their home village or home town (that is, 'endorsed out', to borrow a South African expression). Those with a rural hukou who obtain a temporary employment permit to work in an urban area are not entitled to the pensions, schooling, unemployment benefits, etc. enjoyed by those who have an urban hukou. There are, in short, some obvious and significant similarities between the two countries, but a closer examination is required before we can consider equating China's pass system with what operated in apartheid South Africa." ..." The combination of these four factors may explain why China has developed a quasi-apartheid pass system. The fact that it has such a system underlines the reality that China's export-oriented economic growth has been built, in large measure, on the labour of poorly paid and appallingly treated migrant workers. In China today, as in apartheid South Africa, the pass system is associated with massive abuses of human rights, and its retention should be opposed."
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References

== External links ==*Review of China by the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, February 7, 2009








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