Excerpt: China Continued To Commit Serious Rights Abuses in 2002
(State Dept. Human Rights Report cites wide range of abuses) (2410)
China is an authoritarian state ruled by the Communist Party and commits a wide range of human rights abuses from extrajudicial killings to torture, according to the State Department's 2002 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for China.
The human rights report, which was released March 31, said China's people do not have the freedom to exercise political rights.
The State Department report notes, however, that China's communist rulers have moved away from a strictly Marxist economy to one that permits greater economic autonomy for regions and local authorities in an on-going transition to a market-based economy.
Communist authorities, the report says, "were quick to suppress religious, political, and social groups, as well as individuals, that they perceived to be a threat to government power or to national stability."
Citizens who sought to express openly dissenting political and religious views, the report adds, "continued to face repression."
Abuses by communist authorities included "instances of extrajudicial killings, torture and mistreatment of prisoners, forced confessions, arbitrary arrest and detention, lengthy incommunicado detention, and denial of due process," according to the State Department report.
The complete report on China, which includes Hong Kong and Macau as well as an extensive addendum on Tibet, can be found online at:
Following are excerpts from the 2002 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices in China:
China (includes Hong Kong and Macau)
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 31, 2003
The People's Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP or Party) is the paramount source of power.
Party members held almost all top government, police, and military positions. Ultimate authority rested with members of the Politburo. Leaders stressed the need to maintain stability and social order and were committed to perpetuating the rule of the CCP and its hierarchy.
Citizens lacked both the freedom to peacefully express opposition to the party-led political system and the right to change their national leaders or form of government.
Socialism continued to provide the theoretical underpinning of national politics, but Marxist economic planning had given way to pragmatism, and economic decentralization increased the authority of local officials.
The Party's authority rested primarily on the Government's ability to maintain social stability; appeals to nationalism and patriotism; party control of personnel, media, and the security apparatus; and continued improvement in the living standards of most of the country's 1.3 billion citizens.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, in practice the Government and the CCP, at both the central and local levels, frequently interfered in the judicial process and directed verdicts in many high-profile cases.
The security apparatus is made up of the Ministries of State Security and Public Security, the People's Armed Police, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and the state judicial, procuratorial, and penal systems. Security policy and personnel were responsible for numerous human rights abuses.
The country's transition from a centrally planned to a market-based economy continued. Although state-owned industry remained dominant in key sectors, the Government privatized many small and medium state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and allowed private entrepreneurs increasing scope for economic activity.
Rising urban living standards, greater independence for entrepreneurs, and the expansion of the nonstate sector increased workers' employment options and significantly reduced state control over citizens' daily lives....
The Government's human rights record throughout the year remained poor, and the Government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses.
However, the Government took some steps to address international concerns about its human rights record during the year: A number of prominent dissidents were released; senior representatives of the Dalai Lama were allowed to visit the country; the Government agreed to extend, without conditions, invitations to visit to the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Religious Intolerance and the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; reform of the legal system continued; and the scope of religious activity allowed in Tibetan areas expanded slightly.
Late in the year, these positive developments were undermined by arrests of democracy activists, the imposition of death sentences without due process on two Tibetans, and the trials of labor leaders on "subversion" charges.
Authorities were quick to suppress religious, political, and social groups, as well as individuals, that they perceived to be a threat to government power or to national stability. Citizens who sought to express openly dissenting political and religious views continued to face repression.
Abuses included instances of extrajudicial killings, torture and mistreatment of prisoners, forced confessions, arbitrary arrest and detention, lengthy incommunicado detention, and denial of due process. Conditions at most prisons remained harsh. In many cases, particularly in sensitive political cases, the judicial system denied criminal defendants basic legal safeguards and due process because authorities attached higher priority to suppressing political opposition and maintaining public order than to enforcing legal norms or protecting individual rights.
The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights.
The Government continued to implement its coercive policy of restricting the number of children a family could have.
The Government maintained tight restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press; self-censorship by journalists and writers also continued. The Government continued and at times intensified its efforts to control and monitor the Internet.
The Government severely restricted freedom of assembly and continued to restrict freedom of association and freedom of movement.
While the number of religious believers continued to grow, government respect for religious freedom remained poor and crackdowns against Muslim Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists, and unregistered groups, including underground Protestant and Catholic groups, continued.
The Government denied the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) permission to operate along its border with North Korea and deported thousands of North Koreans, many of whom faced persecution upon their return. Citizens did not have the right peacefully to change their Government.
The Government did not permit independent domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor human rights conditions. Violence against women (including imposition of a birth limitation policy coercive in nature that resulted in instances of forced abortion and forced sterilization), prostitution, discrimination against women, abuse of children, and discrimination against persons with disabilities and minorities all were problems. In Xinjiang, where security remained tight, human rights abuses intensified.
The Government continued to deny internationally recognized worker rights, and forced labor in prison facilities remained a serious problem. Trafficking in persons was a serious problem.
The Government's violation of internationally accepted human rights norms stemmed from the authorities' extremely limited tolerance of public dissent, fear of unrest, and the limited scope or inadequate implementation of laws protecting basic freedoms.
The authorities released several prominent political prisoners before their terms were over. Tibetans Ngawang Choephel, Jigme Sangpo, Ngawang Sangdrol, Tenzin Thubten, Ngawang Choekyi, Ngawang Choezom and Gyaltsen Drolkar were released early (see Tibet Addendum). Also released was China Democracy Party co-founder Xu Wenli.
Nonetheless, at year's end several thousand others, including China Democracy Party co-founders Wang Youcai and Qin Yongmin, Internet activists Yang Zili and Huang Qi, Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, journalist Jiang Weiping, labor activist Liu Jingsheng, political activist Han Chunsheng, Catholic Bishop Su Zhimin, house church leader Xu Guoxing, Tibetan nun Phuntsog Nyidrol, Uighur historian Tohti Tunyaz, and political dissident Yang Jianli, remained imprisoned or under other forms of detention.
The judiciary was not independent, and the lack of due process in the judicial system remained a serious problem. Few Chinese lawyers were willing to represent criminal defendants.
During the year, defendants in only one of every seven criminal cases had legal representation, according to credible reports citing internal government statistics. A number of attorneys were detained for defending their clients.
The authorities routinely violated legal protections in the cases of political dissidents and religious leaders and adherents. Over 200,000 persons were serving sentences, not subject to judicial review, in reeducation-through-labor camps.
The country's criminal procedures were not in compliance with international standards, and new regulations and policies introduced in recent years were not widely implemented. Some lawyers, law professors, and jurists continued to press publicly for improvements of the criminal defense system, including a more transparent system of discovery, abolition of coerced confessions, a presumption of innocence, an independent judiciary, the right to remain silent, mechanisms for judicial review, appropriate protections for criminal defense lawyers, and improved administrative laws giving citizens recourse against unlawful acts by the Government.
Approximately 1,300 individuals were serving sentences under the Law Against Counterrevolutionary Activity, a law that no longer existed; many of these persons were imprisoned for the nonviolent expression of their political views.
Credible sources estimated that as many as 2,000 persons remained in prison for their activities during the June 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. Since December 1998, at least 38 leaders of the China Democracy Party have been given long prison sentences on subversion charges.
Throughout the year, the Government continued a national "strike hard" campaign against crime, characterized by round-ups of suspects who were sometimes sentenced in sports arenas in front of thousands of spectators.
At year's end, this campaign, which was originally scheduled to last for 3 months at its inception in April 2001, showed no signs of abating in some areas. Some dissidents, "separatists," and underground church members were targeted.
The campaign has been especially harsh in Xinjiang, where those deemed to be "splittists" by the Government were targeted.
As part of the campaign, officials reportedly carried out over 4,000 executions during the year, frequently without due process. Amnesty International reported that the country executed more persons than all other countries combined.
Moreover, the actual number of persons executed likely was far higher than the number of reported cases.
The Government regarded the number of death sentences it carried out as a state secret.
Many observers raised concerns about the Government's use of the international war on terror as a justification for cracking down harshly on suspected Uighur separatists expressing peaceful political dissent and on independent Muslim religious leaders.
According to reports from Xinjiang's Uighur community, authorities continued to search out and arrest Uighurs possessing written or recorded information containing unapproved religious material.
The human rights situation in Tibet and in some ethnically Tibetan regions outside Tibet also remained poor, and the Government continued to impose restrictions on some forms of religious practice (see Tibet Addendum).
Labor protests occurred with increasing size and frequency. For example, thousands of workers in the northeast protested such problems as nonpayment of back wages, loss of benefits, reduced severance pay, and managerial corruption.
Leaders of the largest of these demonstrations -- Yao Fuxin, Xiao Yunliang, Wang Zhaoming, and Pang Qingxiang -- were detained by officials. Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang were charged with subversion after the Government alleged that the two had made contact with international organizations and with the China Democracy Party several years before the labor protests occurred.
While the number of religious believers in the country continued to grow, some religious groups, including unregistered Protestant and Catholic congregations and members of nontraditional religious groups, continued to experience varying degrees of official interference, harassment, and repression. However, other religious groups noted a greater freedom to worship than in the past.
The Government continued to enforce regulations requiring all places of religious activity to register with the Government or to come under the supervision of official, "patriotic" religious organizations. In some areas, authorities made strong efforts to control the activities of unapproved Catholic and Protestant churches; religious services were broken up and church leaders or adherents were harassed, and, at times, fined, detained, beaten, and tortured.
At year's end, some religious adherents remained in prison because of their religious activities. No progress was made in improving relations between the Government and the Vatican, although both sides claimed to be ready to resume negotiations aimed at establishing diplomatic relations.
The Government continued its crackdown against the Falun Gong (FLG) spiritual movement. Thousands of practitioners were incarcerated in prisons, extrajudicial reeducation-through-labor camps, psychiatric facilities or special deprogramming centers.
FLG adherents conducted far fewer public demonstrations than in past years, which some observers attributed to the effectiveness of the Government's crackdown.
Several hundred Falun Gong adherents reportedly have died in detention due to torture, abuse and neglect since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999.
The Government strictly regulated the establishment and management of publications, controlled the broadcast media, censored foreign television broadcasts, and at times jammed radio signals from abroad.
During the year, publications were disciplined for publishing material deemed objectionable by the Government, and journalists, authors, and researchers were harassed, detained, and arrested by the authorities. Internet use continued to grow in the country, even as the Government continued, and in some periods intensified, efforts to control and monitor such use.
During the year, the Government blocked many Web sites, using increasingly sophisticated technology; led a drive to close unlicensed Internet cafes, in part to address safety concerns after a deadly fire; and urged Internet companies to pledge to censor objectionable content. At year's end, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 36 journalists were imprisoned in the country, including 14 Internet journalists....
(The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), hereinafter referred to as "Tibet," to be part of the People's Republic of China. The preservation and development of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and protection of its people's fundamental human rights continue to be of concern. For information on ethnic Tibetans living in other regions of China outside the TAR, see the China Country Report on Human Rights Practices.) ....
Freedom of Religion
The overall level of religious repression in Tibet, while less oppressive for lay followers than in previous years, remained high. The Government maintained tight controls on some religious practices and some places of worship. While it allowed many types of religious activity, the Government did not tolerate religious manifestations that it viewed as advocating Tibetan independence or any expression of separatism, which it describes as "splittism." The Government remained suspicious of Tibetan Buddhism in general because of its links to the Dalai Lama, and this suspicion extended to religious adherents who did not explicitly demonstrate their loyalty to the State. Security was intensified during sensitive anniversaries and festival days, while activities viewed as vehicles for political dissent, including celebrations of some religious festivals, were suppressed....
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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