News / Asia

    China Using Detention to Silence Dissent

    China Using Detention to Silence Dissent
    China Using Detention to Silence Dissent

    Multimedia

    China's modernization and its power as a trading nation have made it an increasingly important player in the international arena.  Yet, as its influence grows, rights activists and legal experts say China's treatment of its citizens and of their demand for basic human rights casts a shadow over the country's many advances.  

    Scenes of petitioners, gathering outside local government offices and court houses to air their grievances, are increasingly common in China.  Analysts say the rallies are a sign of the Chinese government's gradual acceptance of some dissent.  But such scenes are only part of the picture.  Activists and legal experts note that government tolerance has its limits.

    At a recent U.S. congressional hearing on political prisoners in China, legal expert Jerome Cohen said that vague Chinese criminal laws allow authorities to brand a wide range of individuals as political prisoners.

    "Land disputes, property disputes, environmental, labor problems, birth control problems -- these are all often local disputes that make people become political prisoners because there is no satisfactory outlet for their peaceful protest.  And many of them, of course, get locked up," said Cohen.

    Chen Guangcheng, a blind, self-taught legal expert in China, is one example.  Chen was sentenced to four years in prison for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic" after he documented cases of forced abortions and other abuses by local family planning officials.

    Although his sentence ends in September, human rights experts say his persecution is unlikely to be over.

    Jerome Cohen says political prisoners are often deprived of political and human rights for years after they are released.

    "After that period of deprivation is over, these people are often subjected to continuing surveillance, house arrest, restriction of any meaningful life, with no legal authority whatever," added Cohen.

    Joshua Rosenzweig of the Dui Hua Foundation, which seeks to promote human rights in China, says a crackdown targeting rights activists, ethnic minorities and government critics is underway in China.

    He says arrests for endangering state secrets more than doubled in 2008, and more arrests and indictments for what are called crimes of endangering state security were carried out in 2008 and 2009 than in the five previous years.

    This is a sign, he says, that hardliners in the Chinese government are consolidating their power.

    "I believe that the situation that I've described here is a consequence of the Chinese leadership's acquiescence to a hard-line element within the [communist] party that sees harsh criminal justice measures as superior to building the rule of law," said Rosenzweig.

    Human rights activists and legal experts say the United States should do more to support those in China who struggle to promote the rule of law.

    Some have said more frequent and in-depth discussions between U.S. and Chinese officials on human rights are needed. Others have urged President Barack Obama to meet with former Chinese political prisoners at the White House to show U.S. support for civil society in China.

    Authorities in Beijing, however, stress that Chinese citizens' rights are guaranteed by law and that outsiders have no right interfering in the country's legal affairs.

    You May Like

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.