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China’s Human Rights Persecution and Hypocrisy

  • Date:2007-06-27

Chen-yuan Tung, Vice Chairman
Mainland Affairs Council

Since 1991, China’s State Council has issued eight human rights reports. In 1998, China became a signatory to the United Nations’ “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” though its parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), has yet to ratify the signing. In 2006, the Chinese government held an “Exhibition on Human Rights in China” in Beijing. And in March 2007, the Chinese government issued for the eighth consecutive year a report on the “Human Rights Record of the United States,” in which it criticizes the U.S. government for serious violations of human rights. Unlike other governments in the world, the Chinese government is unique in its unceasing efforts to prove to the international community that the “Communist Party of China (CPC) is a strong advocate for human rights, and the Chinese people enjoy human rights.” This is progress of a sort, yet it also amply exhibits the hypocrisy of the Chinese government in its persecution of human rights.

Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin once said that “Keeping 1.3 billion people well fed and warmly clothed is one of the greatest human rights achievements in China.” Indeed, China has significantly improved its people’s life, but the nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a minority of people, many of whom are influential high-ranking party cadres and government officials. Early this year, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) calculated that China’s Gini coefficient has worsened to 0.496, far surpassing the international warning line of 0.4 and representing an increase of 0.26 points as compared to the same period in 2005. Official surveys in China indicate that there are 3,220 Chinese people with personal assets exceeding 100 million renminbi, but 2,932 of those persons are the children of high-ranking CPC cadres and government officials. Moreover, as of the end of 2004, nearly 200 million farmers in China had lost their farmland due to the Chinese authorities’ unjust expropriation of land. These farmers have been unable to find employment and also lack even minimal social protections.

The aforementioned problems arise from the unrestricted privileges of China’s high-ranking party cadres and government officials. As such, there has been insufficient political protection for the rights and interest of the general public in China. China’s constitution stipulates that citizens aged 18 or above have the right to vote and stand for election. At this time, however, the Chinese people are only allowed to cast a direct vote in elections for heads of village and chairmen of neighborhood committees. Of the more than 70 million members at party and government agencies, only 32,000 non-CPC members hold leading political positions at or above county chief-level. Moreover, only 19 non-party members hold positions in the central government, and the great majority of them are in positions without actual administrative power. This demonstrates that the CPC’s monopoly of political power is the fundamental reason for China’s extremely unfair distribution of wealth and officials’ unbridled abuse of power and privileges.

In addition to its power in the real world, the CPC has tried to control the spiritual world of the Chinese people as well. Chinese laws contain clear provisions protecting the religious freedom of the people, yet over 40 million people have been persecuted in China due to their participation in what the Chinese government considers “underground churches” and “evil cults”. At present, at least 17 bishops of Catholic underground churches are missing or have been arrested or forced into living under segregation. In 2006, at least 650 pastors of house churches were arrested and many churches were demolished. Since July 1999, the Chinese government has cruelly persecuted several hundred thousand Falun Gong practitioners, and several thousand followers of the religious group have died in police custody.

Naturally, the Chinese people are also deprived of the right to freedom of speech. Reporters Without Borders has indicated that at present there are at least 31 journalists and 51 online authors serving prison sentences in China. China's Ministry of Public Security has over 30,000 Internet police officers to censor the online speech of the Chinese people. Under the coercion by the Chinese government, major Internet companies Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems have blocked access to and self-filtered Chinese networks and websites; and they have provided the personal data of web users to the Chinese government. The Chinese government has also stipulated that the release of news and information in China by foreign news agencies must undergo a review and ratification process by the Chinese authorities. This same stipulation applies to the subscription of such news and information by users in China.

Without political democracy, freedom of religion and freedom of speech, there will be no true human rights in China. With regard to China’s publication of human rights white papers and holding of human rights exhibitions, these represent nothing but the sheer hypocrisy of the Chinese government to gloss over its true face of human rights persecution. Beijing’s criticism of the human rights situation in the U.S. only further highlights the guilty conscience and absurdity of the Chinese government in this regard. In February 2007, the U.S. magazine Parade published a list of the “World’s 10 Worst Dictators” based on reports by global human-rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and the U.S. Department of State. Chinese President Hu Jintao ranked fourth on its list, up two places from the 2006 list. But as Hu rises in his ranking on the list, the human rights situation in China worsens.