China 's human rights record has come under scrutiny, for the first
time, by the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council under a new mechanism
called the Universal Periodic Review. The report looks at progress
made in human rights based on the country's economic development, but
fails to address issues such as political and religious persecution.
Human rights organizations accuse China of a whitewash.
takes its position on the world stage seriously and has sent a
high-powered team to defend its human rights record before the U.N.
Human Rights Council.
But, China need not have worried. Opinion was definitely in China's favor as country after country took
the floor to praise China's achievements. The head of the Chinese
delegation Li Bao Dong set the tone of the proceedings.
presenting his country's report, he stressed steps China has taken to
safeguard its citizens' rights, to govern as a law-based society and to
improve the welfare of its people.
Li said China pursues a policy of ethnic equality and regional ethnic autonomy.
minorities in China benefit from special preferential policies in
political, economic, cultural and educational spheres," said Li. "The
Chinese government encourages due and multi-language teaching in
schools of ethnic minorities ... Huge investment has also been made to
protect the religious practices, cultural identities and other
heritages of ethnic minorities."
During the course of the
three-hour debate, China was praised for its astounding economic feats
and promotion of human rights. A long list of speakers supported
China's use of the death penalty and Internet censorship.
deplored, what it called, the politicization of China's record by some
nations. Egypt approved China's use of the death penalty and said it
should be expanded. Sudan lauded China's system of re-education
Sri Lanka Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka rejected criticism of China as a manifestation of colonialism.
has ensured the political rights of its people. The rights of
independence, self-determination and sovereignty and the social and
economic rights, to freedom from feudal exploitation and to the
satisfaction of material needs ... We reject the criticism surrounding
Tibet, which Sri Lanka considers an inalienable province of China,"
A handful of Western countries challenged
China's record. The Canadian representative, Louis-Martin Aumais
questioned China about its alleged use of evidence obtained under
torture and its treatment of political prisoners.
deeply concerned about reports of arbitrary detention of ethnic
minority members, including Tibetans, Uighurs, and Mongols, as well as
religious believers including Falun Gong practitioners without
information about their charges, their location and well being," he
At the end of the session, a parade of Chinese experts
answered questions regarding its treatment of ethnic minorities,
Tibetans, and human rights defenders. It assured the delegates at the
Council that their rights, as well as the right to religious freedom
and assembly were well protected.