News / Asia

China Acknowledges Human Rights Shortcomings

China Acknowledges Human Rights Shortcomingsi
X
October 23, 2013
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid