News / Asia

Chinese Human Rights Record Under UN Scrutiny

FILE - 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.
FILE - 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.
Days after China dismissed a United Nations report that accused North Korea of crimes against humanity, Beijing is criticizing a U.N. investigative report on its own human rights record. The report, scheduled to be adopted by the world body in Geneva Wednesday, is the outcome of months of dialogue between U.N. member states and the Chinese government.
 
The Universal Periodic Review is a U.N. mechanism that examines the human rights record of member countries with the help of other member states and independent groups.
 
The inquiry covers a wide range of issues. In its response to the report on its own human rights record, Beijing accepted 204 of their recommendations, on issues ranging from poverty alleviation to a stronger welfare system.
 
But on other issues, such as China’s policies in Tibet, judicial reform and treatment of political opposition, authorities rejected the recommendations.
 
“At the U.N. Human Rights Council, some countries ignored the great progress made by China on human rights, and willfully criticized,” said Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry. “This is the politicization of human rights and a double standard.”
 
China rejected the report’s advice on 48 points, either dismissing the relevancy of the issues raised, or claiming that it is already implementing laws to better protect its citizens' rights.
 
Ye Shiwei of the advocacy group Human Rights in China said the recent crackdown on human rights defenders in China belies the government's reassurances to the United Nations.
 
“We really need to ask China, if they are already doing that, then why are there so many people in the New Citizens Movement and in other human rights communities in China, and of course Cao Shunli herself, why did she die?” said Ye.
 
Cao Shunli was an activist who had been staging peaceful sit-ins to press Chinese authorities to allow independent groups to participate in the U.N.’s review. In September, she was arrested by police at the airport before she could participate in meetings in Geneva. Authorities later said she died while in custody.
 
A group of human rights experts at the U.N., as well as some countries involved in the review, urged the Chinese government to investigate Cao's death. They say it is unacceptable that activists pay the ultimate price for interacting with the United Nations on human rights.
 
In recent months, China has put on trial members of the New Citizens movement, a loosely organized group that advocates for anti-discrimination policies and political accountability.  
 
Human Rights in China's Ye said that Cao's treatment, and the intense crack down on political dissent, has heavily weighed on the review.
 
“In 2009, at the review, only two countries have raised the issue of protecting civil society [in China], whereas in 2013, at least 13 countries have raised it,” said Ye.
 
Through the Universal Periodic Review, several countries urged China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which includes protecting freedom of speech and association and guaranteeing a fair trial.
 
China said it is adjusting its legal system in ways that will address some of these issues, but it has not set a timetable for formally implementing the international treaty.
 
Michael Davis, a professor of law at Hong Kong University, is skeptical that China is truly interested in judicial reforms.
 
“To live up to international standards under the ICCPR would require a free society, a free press, freedom of the internet. Are they going to do that? One has to be doubtful: there has been no sign because that would be very serious political reform,” said Davis.
 
Instead of promoting political reform, Davis said, China might decide to ratify the covenant and then face international criticism for falling short of its requirements.
 
“The Chinese approach to all of this is that nobody else has a right to tell it what it do, but that it has an obligation under human rights commitment to try to reform itself and then it takes the view that what it already does for the most part is consistent with human rights. Even though nobody agrees with that,” said Davis.
 
In response to criticism of its policies on ethnic and religious minorities, China said the government guarantees the protection of all the basic rights of minorities.
 
In Tibet, more than 130 people have self-immolated since 2009 in protest of China's heavy policing of the region and oppression of religious rights.
 
All but one of the U.N. Review’s recommendations on Tibet were rejected by China, which only agreed to facilitate visits to Tibet by senior U.N. officials.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NY
March 26, 2014 10:10 AM
The CCP denies it violates human rights in China, Tibet & East Turkestan but won't allow independent investigations into human rights by anyone, not even the UN. The CCP says come see for yourself but when people try, the CCP bars them entry or puts up roadblocks to their investigations. This is China credibility gap. It's unable to prove any of its claims about human rights.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More