What Are China’s Human Rights Violations?

Throughout early 2016, the United States,
the European Union and other world powers released a series of joint statements citing
growing concern over China’s respect for human rights. According to Reuters, the documents
accuse the Chinese government of covering up disappearances, censoring opposition and
fostering a biased judicial system, among a slew of other violations. Human rights abuses
have reportedly escalated in China since President Xi Jinping took office in 2014. So, what are
China’s human rights violations? Well, China is an authoritarian state, ruled
under a one-party system. As such, its government has historically valued state sovereignty
over individual rights. In fact, China didn’t even officially recognize human rights until
the early 1990’s, after the fallout of the Tiananmen Square democratic movement. Their
first major treaty, the “White Papers”, endowed all citizens with the rights to free
speech and assembly, and specifically outlaws any media censorship. In total, the government
has signed and ratified more than 20 international treaties on human rights. However, China has
sidestepped many of these international norms, and the government’s attitude on the matter
has largely gone unchanged. In China today, the most frequent victims
of human rights violations are critics of the government, like journalists, lawyers,
artists and activists. The state is known to harass, imprison and even torture opposition
members, in many cases without just cause. For instance in 2015, the Chinese government
arbitrarily detained or questioned more than 200 human rights lawyers and activists whom
they suspected of undermining the ruling party. Experts say the crackdown was part of the
state’s larger effort to dismantle the “rights defense” movement, which is a group of intellectuals
defending individual rights through legal action and activism. By the end of the year,
25 people were missing or in custody. China’s human rights violations are often
difficult to prosecute, as the county’s legal system has been designed to limit individual
rights. This was exemplified 2015, when China drafted a series of laws that effectively
silenced dissidents, under the guise of expanding national security. Among them is an anti-terror
law that gives authorities sweeping powers to combat militants and separatists, including
the right to monitor private communications. Critics of the law say its definition of “terrorism”
is alarmingly broad, and could hinder freedom of speech and religion for China’s religious
and ethnic minorities. China has also introduced legislation that expands the state’s power
to regulate and monitor foreign human rights organizations. This is all under the backdrop of China’s
seemingly endless war against the internet. Although most of the Western web is already
blocked under China’s “great firewall”, the government does permit certain sites,
albeit under tight supervision. For instance in 2014, the state passed new regulations
on China’s primary social media site, WeChat, barring private users from sharing news, current
events, or anything that undermined the socialist system. The state has since shut down millions
of accounts that have not met those requirements. In a an open letter to President Xi Jinping,
Western powers cited these and other infringements on human rights as not only immoral, but harmful
to China’s own economy. They said the abuses have created “a climate of uncertainty”
for investors, who are particularly important to China during its economic decline. Whether
their concerns have any effect on the country’s systematic human rights violations remains
to be seen. And China’s problems don’t end at their
border. Learn about some of China’s controversies in regards to terrorism in Pakistan by checking
out this video from our friends at
China Uncensored. Thanks for watching Seeker Daily…

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