News / Asia

China Human Rights Reviewed Amid Crackdown

Wu Hailong, special envoy of China's Foreign Ministry (L), addresses the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Oct. 22, 2013.
Wu Hailong, special envoy of China's Foreign Ministry (L), addresses the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Oct. 22, 2013.
William Ide
A top United Nations body is reviewing China’s human rights record Tuesday for the first time since Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped into office. When Xi became president earlier this year, there were expectations that he would bring more openness and reform, but a crackdown on activists and lawyers in China is dashing those hopes.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says China is looking forward to a candid discussion of the country’s human rights record, as long as the criticism is constructive.

Hua says that in Geneva, China will tell the truth about its efforts and progress in human rights and that Beijing looks forward to constructive criticism. She says China will kindly accept constructive criticism and work to improve human rights, but it will not accept prejudicial or maligned criticisms.

"In Geneva, China will give the truth of our efforts and progress in human rights, and we look forward to constructive criticism. We will kindly accept the constructive criticisms and work towards a better state for Chinese human rights. But we do not welcome the prejudicial or 'maligned criticisms,” she said.

This periodic review is the second for China and this one comes just months after the country completed a once-in-decade leadership reshuffle.

When Xi Jinping stepped into office in March there was hope he would be more moderate and open-minded, like his father, a former party leader. However, the government has been sending the public conflicting signals, says rights lawyer Mo Shaoping.

Mo says that while the Chinese president previously pledged to faithfully implement China’s Constitution and the rule of law, there have been worrying trends.

For example, Mo says universities established seven topics that were off limits for teaching, such as civil rights, independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression, errors of the party and others. He adds that Chinese mainstream media also criticized constitutionalism, saying it was a product of capitalist societies.

“For example, the fact that universities established the seven subject off limits to teaching, you cannot teach civil rights, independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression, errors of the party, etc. And also you have mainstream media criticizing constitutionalism, saying that it is a product of capitalist societies,” he said.

Jiang Tianyong, a rights lawyer says that now, the government is using even more repressive measures to handle civil society.

Jiang says that as a lawyer, what is going on is very clear. He says it is not like in the past, where you got harassed or followed. Now, it is more frequent to be beaten or put in jail.

“As a lawyer I can see this clearly. It is not like in the past, where you got harassed or followed. Now it is more frequent to be beaten or put in jail, this is very evident,” he said.

It is not just rights lawyers who are feeling pressured.

The government has also launched an aggressive campaign online. Individuals can now be thrown in jail for libelous comments that have been viewed more than 5,000 times re-posted more than 500 times.

The government says the movement is to stamp out rumors and the destabilizing impact they can have on society, but critics see it as an effort to silence dissent. Individuals calling for more public participation in China’s rights review process have also found themselves caught in the government’s cross-hairs.

Late last month, prominent activist Cao Shunli went missing as she was on her way to Geneva to attend a human rights training course. Cao and others have been pressing the government to allow more public involvement in the U.N. review.

And contrary to Chinese law, Cao’s friends say authorities have yet to notify her family of her charges or where she is being held.

Jiang says that ultimately the crackdown and silencing of dissent is about power.

Jiang says this all is related to the fact that the Communist Party is not ready to share power with the people. It still wants to monopolize power. He says the party is very scared that once people become awakened, they will start to demand that they enjoy the rights that people around the world enjoy.

“I think this has to do with the fact that the Communist Party is not ready to share power with the people, it still wants to monopolize power. Therefore it is very scared by the awareness of citizens, because after people are awakened they start to demand to be able to enjoy the rights that people around the world enjoy,” he said.

In addition to Cao, individuals such as Xu Zhiyong and others who are part of an advocacy campaign called the New Citizens Movement have been held and criminally charged in recent months.

Authorities have accused members of the group of gathering crowds and trying to disrupt public order. Rights advocates, however, say they are being targeted because of their efforts to rally public support behind a policy demanding that officials disclose their assets to the public.

Before  Xi officially took power in March, the assets disclosure policy was one that was winning growing support in China, even among Communist Party officials. In the southern city of Guangzhou, officials had pledged to participate in the disclosure of their assets.

Now, a little more than half a year later, some scholars do not even want to talk about the subject for fear of reprisal.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid