News / Asia

China Acknowledges Human Rights Shortcomings

China Acknowledges Human Rights Shortcomingsi
X
October 23, 2013 5:13 AM
For years, Western governments, human rights groups and Chinese dissidents have been accusing Beijing of grave violations of human rights and freedoms. The 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square remains the most egregious blot on China's human rights record. But since then, the communist government has been dogged by numerous allegations of arbitrary jailing, torture and harassment of dissenters and their families.
China Acknowledges Human Rights Shortcomings
Zlatica Hoke
For years, Western governments, human rights groups and Chinese dissidents have been accusing Beijing of grave violations of human rights and freedoms.  The 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square remains the most egregious blot on China's human rights record, but since then the communist government has been dogged by numerous allegations of arbitrary jailing, torture and harassment of dissenters and their families. 
 
In Geneva on Tuesday, the Chinese government faced a United Nations report listing grave abuses and violations of international human rights norms.  While China’s response showed some softening of its rhetoric, some observers are not reassured.
 
Rights activist Ni Yulan was released from prison earlier this month, after serving 2.5 years in a women's prison on charges of fraud and stirring unrest.  Ni has been at odds with the Chinese authorities since 2001, when she began protesting the destruction of homes, including her own, to make room for the construction of the Olympic village in Beijing.
 
"In the last 12 years I have been treated as a criminal, both when I was at home or sitting in prison. At home we were under police surveillance; they surrounded my house and turned it into a prison. We were not allowed to freely come and go, [and] my family was harassed," said Yulan.
 
Renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was not spared either.  After criticizing the government, the designer of Beijing's "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium was arrested in 2011 and held in jail for almost three months without official charges.  Chinese authorities said Ai Wewei was investigated for alleged economic crimes. 
 
The long list of China's alleged rights abuses includes repression of minorities, especially in Xingjian and Tibet, and excessive control of the media and the Internet.
 
The United States has repeatedly warned China to stop the abuses, but human rights groups say this is not enough.
 
"I think the reality is that for the United States, human rights issues in China remain an issue to be managed, not a problem to be solved.  And, not as one as absolutely foundational, fundamental to securing progress on other issues in the bilateral relationship," said Sophie Richardson, China Director for Human Rights Watch.
 
On Tuesday, China acknowledged shortcomings but insisted that a lot of progress has been made. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed the familiar Chinese line that human rights issues are China’s internal affairs and other nations should not meddle.
 
"Our wish is that international organizations, including the U.N. Human Rights Council and other relevant organs, will objectively and fairly address China's development in the area of human rights. With regards to your question, we consider some issues as domestic matters; we hope that our judicial sovereignty will be respected," said Chunying.
 
In Hong Kong, City University professor Joseph Cheng said Beijing wants to influence the international human rights agenda.
 
"China intends to soften external criticism, to defend its basic position and to lobby hard for support among other third world countries, especially those in Africa and Asia.  Not only to defend China, but also to support China's membership of the [UN Human Rights] Council in the election to be held in November,” said Cheng.
 
Cheng also said China now wants to play a more active role in the U.N.'s human rights forum and in shaping the human rights policy of the United Nations.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs