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 Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid