News / Asia

US: China Human Rights Continue to Deteriorate

A policeman points to a supporter of Southern Weekly newspaper in a wheelchair before taking him away during a protest in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, Jan. 10, 2013.
A policeman points to a supporter of Southern Weekly newspaper in a wheelchair before taking him away during a protest in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, Jan. 10, 2013.
William Ide
A top U.S. official says China’s human rights situation continues to deteriorate. Uzra Zeya, acting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, says talks that were held in China earlier this week fell short of U.S. expectations.  
 
This week’s human rights talks were the 18th time that U.S. and Chinese officials had gathered to discuss a topic that Zeya says is central to Washington and Beijing’s bilateral engagement.
 
She says that while the dialogue recognized the Chinese people’s remarkable record in lifting hundreds of thousands out of poverty, it did not shy away from the full range of issues where China’s policies and practices have fallen seriously short of international standards.
 
“We highlighted some of the various ways in which Chinese citizens are speaking out more about their expectations of their government, with respect to corruption, environmental degradation, worker and consumer safety, lack of rule of law, religious freedom and other aspects of government policy," Zeya said.
 
The meeting, which took place in the southern city of Kunming, was the first since Chinese President Xi Jinping assumed office in March.  Rights groups note that since Mr. Xi has taken office, Chinese authorities have placed more than a dozen activists under detention for calling on government officials to publicly disclose their assets.
 
The crackdown has occurred despite the fact that Chinese officials have voiced support for cracking down on graft and lavish spending by government agencies. China’s Communist Party says it is in a life or death struggle against corruption.
 
Other activists have been detained for trying to free petitioners who are being held in so-called “black jails.”  The secret detention centers are an extralegal method authorities use to silence dissent.
 
“We noted that such actions are contrary to China’s international obligations and indeed in most cases China’s own laws and constitution," Zeya said. "We also conveyed our deep concern about attempts to control or silence or activists by targeting family members and associates of those activists.”
 
China routinely dismisses such criticism as meddling in its internal affairs. It also insists that those who have been detained are being handled in accordance with its own laws.
 
When asked how Chinese authorities responded to the mention of specific individual cases, Zeya says officials did provide some information, but overall their responses fell short of what U.S. officials had expected to get out of the meeting.
 
Some human rights groups have questioned the effectiveness of the dialogues, which have been taking place since the early 1990s. They argue that the discussion have become routine exercises in diplomacy that have achieved few results.

Despite the U.S. government’s assessment of the deteriorating human rights situation in China, Zeya argues that the talks are not just an empty exercise. She says that although Washington and Beijing may differ on human rights, the Chinese public’s expectations for government accountability and change have not been static since the talks began more than a decade ago.
 
“I personally do not see human rights as an area of disagreement between the American and Chinese people. Like people everywhere the Chinese people deserve to be treated with dignity, to have accountable government and to have their voices heard," Zeya said. "These discussions then are ultimately about Chinese citizens' aspirations and how they are navigating their own future.”
 
During the talks, U.S. officials also expressed their deep concern about China’s attempts to silence dissent and tighten controls over its Tibetan and Uighur minorities. They also urged China to engage in dialogue with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama or his representatives.
 
Since 2009, more than 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest of Chinese policies in Tibet and in Tibetan areas in China. They have also called for the return of the Dalai Lama.
 
China says the Dalai Lama is behind the self-immolations, an accusation the exiled spiritual leader denies.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid