News / Asia

    Activists Press for Reform During China Congress

    Wang Yu, the lawyer of human right activist Cao Shunli, talks on the phone in front of a hospital building where Cao is hospitalized at its intensive care unit in Beijing,  March 1, 2014.
    Wang Yu, the lawyer of human right activist Cao Shunli, talks on the phone in front of a hospital building where Cao is hospitalized at its intensive care unit in Beijing, March 1, 2014.
    Shannon Van Sant
    On the eve of China's National People's Congress, human rights activists are urging the Chinese government to further reform the of rule of law and allow freedom of speech.  Their requests come as friends of one activist say she is dying while in police detention.  
     
    Cao Shunli, a prominent human rights activist in China, was in police custody when she suffered organ failure last weekend - a result, her lawyers say, of not being allowed to get proper treatment for tuberculosis and liver disease.

    Cao was arrested last fall after staging sit ins outside of China’s Foreign Ministry.  She was protesting for the Chinese public to be allowed to participate in drafting China’s national human rights report ahead of a review by the United Nations. She has remained in detention every since.

    Fellow activists, who fear she may only have days to live, say it’s another sign of a crackdown on dissidents by the Chinese government and are pressing for change as China’s top legislators meet in Beijing for the National Party Congress.
     
    “For those who managed to get across to meet her, it seems that she is in a very critical situation, and she might have only a few more days to live,” stated Maya Wong, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. 
     
    When asked how activist Cao Shunli’s declining health reflects on the status of human rights in China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said the two are unrelated.
     
    He said Cao is suspected of violating laws and committing crimes and that relevant Chinese authorities are working in accordance with the law.  He says Cao’s case has nothing to do with China’s human rights situation.
     
    News of Cao’s worsening condition came days after the arrest of another prominent activist, Ilham Tohti.  Tohti was a respected scholar, economist and longtime champion of the rights of ethnic minority Uighurs.  Uighurs are China’s mostly Muslim ethnic group who live primarily in Xinjiang Province.  Xinjiang has been a center of protests and unrest for the last several years.  Police charged Tohti with separatism last week, and his lawyer says Tohti could receive the death penalty.  
     
    In a letter Tuesday to President Xi Jinping and National Party Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo, the international rights group Human Rights Watch urged several reforms, including greater freedom of speech and rule of law.  
     
    Last year, China did abolish its re-education through labor system, but Wong says that move will not have a large enough impact on rule of law and human rights in China.  
     
    “The government tries to present some piecemeal reform to try to satisfy the public,” Wong added.
     
    Lawyer Teng Biao said repression and detention of dissidents has increased over the past year, but so have the number of people who are protesting.  “Even if so many human rights activists are being arrested, there are still more and more people becoming human rights activists, so the hope is in civil society not in the central government,” he said.
     
    Many of those people are speaking out for reform; Xi Jinping’s challenge over the next year will be meeting those demands while maintaining Party rule.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora