The World Human Right Report reads, “The broad and sustained offensive on human rights that started after President Xi Jinping took power five years ago showed no sign of abating in 2017.”
“The death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a hospital under heavy guard in July highlighted the Chinese government’s deepening contempt for rights.”
“The near future for human rights appears grim, especially as Xi is expected to remain in power at least until 2022. Foreign governments did little in 2017 to push back against China’s worsening rights record at home and abroad.”
Protection of human rights in China has been on a “downward trajectory, by virtually every measure” since President Xi assumed power in 2012, a U.S. congressional study concluded Wednesday, according to VOA.
The report by the politically bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China accused Beijing of embarking on the “unprecedented” repression of ethnic minorities, saying that such abuses “may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Human rights will move to the forefront of the increasingly harsh US-China confrontation next month as the United Nations Human Rights Council holds a review of China’s human rights record.
“Its first big test is coming soon, over the issue of human rights and Tibet,” Washington Post remarks.
“The Chinese government, which already oversees one of the strictest online censorship regimes in the world, limited the provision of censorship circumvention tools and strengthened ideological control over education and mass media in 2017.” The Watch report says, “ Schools and state media incessantly tout the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party, and, increasingly, of President Xi Jinping as core leader.”
In regards to religious freedom in China, the US human rights commission noted that it “continued to observe widespread and systematic violation of the principles of religious freedom during the 2018 reporting year, as Chinese authorities exercised broad discretion over religious practice,” despite guarantees of religious freedom in Chinese and international law.
In Xinjiang, as it is broadly reported, a nominally autonomous region with 11 million Turkic Muslim Uyghurs, authorities stepped up mass surveillance and the security presence despite the lack of evidence demonstrating an organized threat. They also adopted new policies denying Uyghurs cultural and religious rights.
According to the Watch report 2017, “Hong Kong’s human rights record took a dark turn. Hong Kong courts disqualified four pro-democracy lawmakers in July and jailed three prominent pro-democracy student leaders in August.”
The report says, China’s growing global influence means many of its rights violations now have international implications. In April 2017, security officials at the United Nations headquarters in New York City ejected from the premises Dolkun Isa, an ethnic Uyghur rights activist, who was accredited as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) participant to a forum there; no explanation was provided.
In June 2017, the European Union failed for the first time ever to deliver a statement under a standing agenda item at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) regarding country situations requiring the council’s attention. This stemmed from Greece blocking the necessary EU consensus for such an intervention due to its unwillingness to criticize human rights violations in China, with which it has substantial trade ties.
Chinese officials continued throughout the year to pressure governments around the world to forcibly return allegedly corrupt mainland officials despite a lack of legal protections in China or refugee status determination procedures outside China.
The world community has noted that “Despite the high costs, many in China continued to fight for rights and justice in 2017. Activists, including those working on women’s, disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, continued to take cases to court to seek limited redress and raise awareness.”
Referring to the disappearance of Interpol President Meng Hongwei earlier this month, Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch, told that “as is so often the way, especially in highly politicized cases such as these, we have no way of knowing whether the evidence is credible.”
“But we are absolutely confident that the way he [Meng] – and so many others like him who have been disappeared and denied access to family and lawyers of their choice – is incompatible with any sense of the term ‘rule of law,’ much as President Xi likes to insist that’s the case in China today,” she continued.
The White House and other policymakers must push for human rights in bilateral dealings with China, U.S. lawmakers behind a new report on China’s rights abuses urged Wednesday.
“Today is the pivot point,” Republican Congressman Christopher Smith said at a news conference announcing the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Annual Report.
“We need to say: Now’s the time for penalties,” Smith, the chair of the commission, told reporters, adding that China must be held “to account.”
By Cloudy Seagail