Friday, January 12, 2007

“China’s human rights deteriorating”

No, no surprise. But as the new Human Rights Watch 2007 Report on China says:

Authorities greeted rising social unrest—marked at times by violent confrontation between protesters and police—with stricter controls on the press, internet, academics, lawyers, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).


The Chinese government continues to use a vast police and state security apparatus to enforce multiple layers of controls on critics, protesters, and civil society activists. Such controls make actual arrests—which draw unwanted international attention—less necessary in silencing critics.

The system includes administrative and professional pressures, restrictions on domestic and foreign movements, covert or overt tapping and surveillance of phone and internet communications, visits and summons by the police, close surveillance by plainclothes agents, unofficial house-arrests, incommunicado confinement in distant police-run guest houses, and custody in police stations. Many are charged with vaguely defined crimes such as “disrupting social order,” “leaking state secrets,” or “inciting subversion.”

I and others may be able to access this kind of information, but not internetters in China:

The “Great Firewall of China” restricts not only access to the internet, with its 123 million users in China, but also to newspapers, magazines, books, television and radio broadcasts, and film. During 2006, the Chinese government and Communist party officials moved aggressively to plug the wall’s holes and to punish transgressors. Premier Wen Jiabao justified the renewed crackdown, stating that “internet censorship is necessary to safeguard national, social and collective interests.”

Journalists, bloggers, webmasters, writers, and editors, who send news out of China or who merely debate politically sensitive ideas among themselves, face punishments ranging from sudden unemployment to long prison terms. Censors use sophisticated filters, blocking, and internet police to limit incoming information.


By their own admission, global corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Skype continue to assist in the Chinese government’s system of arbitrary and opaque political censorship in an effort to ingratiate their companies with Chinese regulators. Yahoo! released the identity of private users to Chinese authorities, contributing to four critics’ lengthy prison sentences. Microsoft and Google censor searches for what they think the government considers sensitive terms.

On the international stage, echoing concerns I expressed in a paper I wrote:

In 2006 China was elected to the newly-formed UN Human Rights Council. Its candidacy statement asserted that “the Chinese government respects the universality of human rights and supports the UN in playing an important role in the protection and promotion of human rights.” However, Chinese diplomatic efforts have focused on doing away with independent UN investigations, on the grounds that “the internal affairs” of a state should not be subject to investigation. China continues to work closely with the “like minded” group of countries, which includes Iran and Zimbabwe, to roll back important human rights protections. […]

Although the European Union and others continued to pursue human rights dialogues with China in 2006, the sessions produced no concrete results and no further movement toward ratification by China of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights (ICCPR).

Not just China, but the territories it (claims to) control are not faring better in the human rights situation:


Suspected “separatists,” many of whom come from monasteries and nunneries, are routinely imprisoned. […]

On September 30, Chinese People’s Armed Police shot at a group of approximately 40 Tibetan refugees attempting to cross the border into Nepal, killing a 17-year-old nun, Kelsang Namtso, and possibly others. The rest of the group fled, though witnesses reported seeing Chinese soldiers marching approximately 10 children back to a nearby camp. The official press agency Xinhua claimed that the soldiers were “forced to defend themselves,” but film footage showed soldiers calmly taking aim and shooting from afar at a column of people making their way through heavy snow.

Xinjiang (East Turkestan)

In 2006, China intensified its efforts to use the “war on terrorism” to justify its policies to eradicate the “three evil forces”—terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism—allegedly prevalent among Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim population in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Under current policies local imams are required to vet the text of weekly Friday sermons with religious bureaus. “Strike Hard” campaigns subject Uighurs who express “separatist” tendencies to quick, secret, and summary trials, sometimes accompanied by mass sentencing rallies. Imposition of the death penalty is common.

Hong Kong

Beijing has vetoed moves toward universal suffrage and ruled out direct elections for Hong Kong’s legislature in 2007 and for its chief executive in 2008.

In August 2006, pro-Beijing lawmakers adopted a sweeping surveillance bill allowing extensive wiretapping—including of lawyers and journalists. The government has refused to specify when it will reintroduce anti-subversion laws shelved three years ago after the largest demonstration in Hong Kong since 1989.

To be fair, this is what China has to say about the HRW report (in response to a question by a reporter):

The organization you mentioned has conducted the so-called watch on China for many years. Regrettably, though claims to watch, the organization always suffers eyesight problems some other times, it wears colored glasses or squints. Since it is deeply biased, instead of out of good will, its reports are often politically motivated with false content

In accordance with the constitutional principle of respecting and safeguarding human rights, the Chinese Government is working on promoting all-round economic and social progress, pushing forward the judicial reform as well as improving democracy and legal system so as to build a equitable, just and harmonious society and realize all-round development of human beings. China's human rights conditions have been constantly making headways. Relevant organizations should face up to China's progress in human rights, take off their colored glasses and view China in a fair and just way. Different countries have different national conditions, so it is normal for them to differ on human rights issue. We are ready to conduct dialogue with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and equality. We oppose to exerting political pressures on other countries under the pretext of human rights and interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

Yes, we are just so poorly sighted and seeing the world in pink and purple.

Welcome to the country hosting the 2008 Olympics!

Related news...

  • A blind human rights activists loses his appeal against four years jail for "disrupting traffic and damaging property". Is it coincidence he exposed the horendous background to China's one-child policy and foreced sterilisations?

No comments: