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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs