News / Asia

China’s Human Rights Record Challenged at UN

Wu Hailong, special envoy of China's foreign ministry, addresses the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review session at the United Nations in Geneva on October 22, 2013.
Wu Hailong, special envoy of China's foreign ministry, addresses the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review session at the United Nations in Geneva on October 22, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
China has made a spirited defense of its human rights record, which is under review at the U.N. Human Rights Council.  While admitting some shortcomings Tuesday, the Chinese delegation told the 47-member U.N. body that Beijing has made many improvements in promoting and protecting the rights of its citizens.

China’s human rights record is under review for the second time under the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  Under this procedure, the U.N. Human Rights Council examines each nation’s record once every four years.  

The last time China came under the human rights spotlight in 2009, Beijing accepted 42 recommendations made by other countries in attendance.  In his statement to the council Tuesday, the head of the Chinese delegation acknowledged that not all of these recommendations have been implemented.  However, he said his country has made great strides.

Special envoy for China’s foreign ministry Wu Hailong said China is a huge country of 1.3 billion people and its 56 ethnic groups faced many difficulties.  But he said over the past four years his country has achieved a more prosperous economy, and improved democracy and the rule of law.  

Speaking through an interpreter, Ambassador Wu said the Chinese government has strengthened the judicial system and increased protections of ethnic minorities.

“My government also ensures that minority ethnic groups in China enjoy extensive human rights.  They participate in the management of state and local affairs as equals with the Han ethnic group.  The ratio of leading officials with ethnic background is growing in ethnic minority area(s)," said Wu. "Their freedom of religious belief and the right to use and develop their spoken and written languages are fully respected and guaranteed.  State investment in ethnic minority areas has kept expanding.” 

Tibet Activists China Human RightsTibet Activists China Human Rights
Tibet Activists China Human Rights
Tibet Activists China Human Rights
During the course of the hearing Tuesday, many Western countries accused China of arresting activists, curbing freedom of expression, including the use of the Internet, and suppressing ethnic minorities.

Before the U.N. council began its review, a group of five Tibetan activists scaled the U.N. building and unfurled a banner that said “China fails human rights in Tibet -- U.N. stand up for Tibet.”

A senior program officer for Human Rights in China, Shiwei Ye, told VOA the Chinese government implements very severe and restrictive policies on political and civil rights, as well as on social, economic and cultural rights.

Despite these concerns, he noted that since the last UPR in 2009, there has been a continued explosion of citizen activism in China that gives him hope that things will change for the better.

“Of course ,on the other hand, there is a serious crackdown ongoing.  But. despite the crackdown, citizens are becoming less afraid to speak out.  And, because they are less afraid, the government is growing more afraid of its own citizens.  So, we hope that China will stop being afraid of its own citizens and start listening to them and start working with citizens to address their legitimate grievances because this is key to sustainable development and the healthy development of the rule of law in China,” said Ye.

In his closing remarks, Ambassador Wu said that China was aware of the many difficulties and challenges it faced in promoting and protecting human rights.  But, he added his government was sure that by creating a prosperous society, China also would witness even greater achievements in human rights.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: anonymous from: China
October 22, 2013 11:10 PM
China is full of unfairs, and the Party is the biggest gangland!

by: Dolph from: Vancouver
October 22, 2013 9:19 PM
They do this dance every year and it's as rehearsed as a Broadway show. The West condemns China for their human rights (thus shutting up the activists in their countries), China retaliates "No no no no". The West replies "yes yes yes yes". China rebuts "No no no no" And then it's over. We go back to business as usual, have their children make our iPhones and DVD players and pretend that the whole rhetoric made some kind of difference. - posted from my iPhone

by: Mark from: NY
October 22, 2013 7:56 PM
China has been turning back in terms of human rights since Xi Jinping came to power. No freedom of speech. Xi Jinping is trying to reuse Mao Zedong's autocracy to control the country by Obscurantism.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs