All governments violate the basic rights of their citizens in the interests of the powerful and the wealthy.
Nothing new about it.
Right through history, it’s been that way whatever be the form of government in any country you look at.
India, China, Nazi Germany, Vietnam, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, South Africa, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the antebellum South in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka ad nauseum, all of them are guilty of violating the fundamental rights of their citizens at the behest of the powerful.
Given what we know of human nature, the best one can strive for is to try and minimize violations of basic rights.
China – Terrible Record
In the 20th and 21st centuries, one of the worst offenders in the human rights arena is China with routine executions of people based on hasty trials, harvesting of prisoners’ organs, illegal invasion of other countries and illegal occupation of their territories (as China has done in India), censorship of media, denying freedom of expression to its people, allowing dangerous working conditions in its factories, massacre of protesters, female foeticide, not granting religious freedom to its people, tainted judiciary and the list of Chinese violations goes on.
Who can ever forget the sight of Chinese tanks crushing protesters at Tienanmen Square!
For China to decry human rights record of the U.S. is essentially a ruse aimed at deflecting global attention from its gross abuses daily.
American Scenario – Not Perfect
Whatever be the frailties of the American system, and surely there are many, at least there is an open debate in the media about the weaknesses, the need to repair shortcomings and to make this country a better land for everyone.
Such a free and unfettered debate on any issue, an open airing of criticism is unthinkable in China where dissent is often followed by imprisonment, torture and death of the dissenter.
Policemen are punished for excessive force, governors are jailed for corruption, Presidents are impeached and the American judiciary is for the most part free from manipulation.
Freedom of religion is taken for granted in the U.S. Hundreds of Hindu Temples and Islamic mosques routinely disseminate the fiction about God every day alongside countless Churches.
A million blogs routinely write on every conceivable topic, criticizing every leader and policy, sometimes fairly and on occasion unfairly. But no blogger pays the price for a vitriolic pen.
Such actions are unimaginable and fond dreams of citizens in nations like China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc.
The U.S. is not perfect but at least there’s a recognition of the imperfections and a constant effort to make things better. Occasionally, Americans slide off the horse but they dust themselves, put their legs into the stirrups and mount the horse again.
An informed citizenry is the best bulwark against human rights violations.
So we are publishing the 2012 Human Rights reports from both China and the United States on each other in full below.
Here is the full text of “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012″ published by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China on April 21, 2013.
Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012
by State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
The State Department of the United States recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as “the world judge of human rights” again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the US turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it. Facts show that there are serious human rights problems in the US which incur extensive criticism in the world. The Human Rights Record of the US in 2012 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the US to people across the world by simply laying down some facts.
The human rights situation in the US in 2012 has deeply impressed people in the following aspects:
— Firearms-related crimes posed serious threat to the lives and personal security of citizens in the US Some shootings left astonishing casualties, such as the school shooting in Oakland, the Century 16 theater shooting in Colorado and the school shooting in Connecticut.
— In the US, elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens. Political contributions had, to a great extent, influenced the electoral procedures and policy direction. During the 2012 presidential election, the voter turnout was only 57.5 percent.
— In the US, citizens’ civil and political rights were further restricted by the government. The government expanded the scope of eavesdropping and censoring on personal telecommunications. The police often abused their power, resulting in increasing complaints and charges for infringement upon civil rights. The proportion of women in the US who fell victims of domestic violence and sexual assault kept increasing.
— The US has become one of the developed countries with the greatest income gap. In 2011, the Gini index was 0.477 in the US and about 9 million people were registered as unemployed; About 16.4 million children lived in poverty and, for the first time in history, public schools reported more than one million homeless children and youth.
— There was serious sex, racial and religious discrimination in the US Indigenous people suffered serious racial discrimination and their poverty rate doubled the national average. A movie produced by a US director and aired online was deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, sparking protests by the Muslims worldwide.
— The US seriously infringed upon human rights of other nations. In 2012, US military operations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan caused massive civilian casualties. US soldiers had also severely blasphemed against local residents’ religion by burning copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and insulting bodies of the dead. There was a huge rise in birth defects in Iraq since the war against Iraq with military actions in which American forces used metal contaminant-releasing white phosphorus shells and depleted uranium bombs.
— The US was not able to effectively participate in international cooperation on human rights. To date, the US remains a country which has not participated in or ratified a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I. On Life and Personal Security
The US was haunted by serious violent crimes in 2012 with frequent occurrence of firearms-related criminal cases. Its people’s lives and personal security were not duly protected.
According to statistics released by the FBI in September 2012, an estimated 1,203,564 violent crimes occurred in the US in 2011, about 386.3 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Aggravated assaults accounted for 62.4 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement. Robbery reached 29.4 percent of violent crimes, forcible rape accounted for 6.9 percent, and murder amounted to 1.2 percent of estimated violent crimes in 2011. And firearms were used in 67.7 percent of the nation’ s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent in all crimes in the US
Americans are the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. According to a CNN report on July 23, 2012, there were an estimated 270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the US and more than 100,000 people were shot by guns each year. In 2010, there were more than 30,000 deaths caused by firearms. However, the US government has done little in gun control. In 2008 and 2010 landmark Supreme Court rulings on two firearms-related cases dramatically diminished the authority of state and local governments to limit gun ownership. Roughly half of the 50 US states have adopted laws allowing gun owners to carry their guns openly in most public places. And many states have ‘stand your ground’ laws that allow people to kill if they come under threat, even, in some cases, if they can escape the threat without violence. According to an article on the website of the Hindu on August 7, 2012, in population-adjusted terms, civilians in some parts of the US are more likely to become the victim of a firearms-related murder than their counterparts in war-torn regions like Iraq or Afghanistan. On January 16, 2013, the US president announced 23 steps on gun control to take immediately without congressional approval. And the president signed three of the measures. But the public opinion generally believes that the gun-control measures will encounter great resistance.
According to a report on the USA Today’s website on October 17, 2012, the violent crime rate went up 17 percent in 2011. Firearms-related violent crimes posed as one of the most serious threats to the lives and personal security of the US citizens. Statistics showed that an estimated 14,612 people fell victims of murder in 2011 and 9,903 of them were firearms-related murder victims (Website of the Congressional Research service, www.fas.org, November 14, 2012). The US witnessed more firearms-related violent crimes in 2012. According to NYPD statistics published on September 2, 2012, there had been 1,001 shootings so far that year in New York, about 3.4 percent more than the 968 reported at the same time the previous year (NY Daily News, September 9, 2012). According to statistics from the website of Chicago Police Department, there were 2,460 shooting incidents in Chicago in 2012, up 10 percent year on year. Some of the shootings were quite bloody and terrifying, such as the movie theater shooting in Colorado and the school shooting in Connecticut.
On July 20, 2012, James E. Holmes, 24, entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, carrying an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one handgun. He sprayed people at the theater who were watching a movie, leaving at least 12 dead and 59 wounded. A witness said: “He was just literally shooting everyone, like hunting season.” According to a CNN report on July 21, law enforcement documents showed that the weapons were purchased legally by Holmes at sporting goods stores in the Denver area over a six-month period before the shooting happened. According to a CNN report on July 23, in wake of the shooting rampage in Colorado, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have.”
On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He committed suicide after that. But before he came to the school, he had shot and killed his mother. The incident was the second deadliest school shooting in the US history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre which left 32 killed.
II. On Civil and Political Rights
The recent years have seen closer surveillance of American citizens by the US government. In the country, abuse of suspects and jail inmates is common occurrence, and equal suffrage enjoyable by citizens continues to be undermined.
The US government continues to step up surveillance of ordinary Americans, restricting and reducing the free sphere of the American society to a considerable extent, and seriously violating the freedom of citizens. The US congress approved a bill in 2012 that authorizes the government to conduct warrantless wiretapping and electronic communications monitoring, a move that violates people’s rights to privacy. According to a report carried on May 4, 2012 by the CNET website, the FBI general counsel’ s office has drafted a proposed law requiring that social-networking websites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly (news.cnet.com, May 4, 2012). Documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union on September 27, 2012, reveal that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring American’s electronic communications. Between 2009 and 2011, the Justice Department’ s combined number of original orders for “pen registers” and “trap and trace devices” used to spy on phones increased by 60 percent, from 23,535 in 2009 to 37,616 in 2011. The number of authorizations the Justice Department received to use these devices on individuals’ email and network data increased 361 percent between 2009 and 2011. The National Security Agency collects purely domestic communications of Americans in a “significant and systematic” way, intercepting and storing 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other types of communications every day. A Wired investigation published in March 2012 revealed the NSA is currently constructing a huge data center in Utah, meant to store and analyze “vast swaths of the world’ s communications” from foreign and domestic networks (The Guardian, July 10, 2012). As the American Civil Liberties Union explained in its December 2011 report, the US could potentially use military drones to spy on its citizens (Fars News Agency, June 26, 2012).
On September 17, 2012, or the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street’s initial demonstration, confrontations between protesters and police around the Wall Street resulted in the arrests of more than 100 people (The New York Times, September 17, 2012). The US journalist community is worried about the continued toughening up of legislation on mass media. It is frequent that journalists in the US lose their jobs because of “politically incorrect” opinions (www.mid.ru, October 22, 2012).
Complaints and allegations of American police violating rights of suspects and jail inmates are going up. A litany of lawsuits was brought against the New York City Police Department, with police officers charged with violating civil rights in law enforcement. According to a report carried by the Chicago Tribune on March 6, 2012, jail inmate Eugene Gruber, 51, was paralyzed a day after he walked into a jail where he was believed to have been maltreated. He died of injury four months after the jail incident. Another report by the Chicago Tribune on March 21, 2012 showed that suspect Darrin Hanna suffered trauma from physical restraint and Taser shocks during a struggle with North Chicago police and died a week later. The CNN reported on May 17, 2012 that some 9.6 percent of the prisoners in state prisons are sexually victimized during confinement, more than double the rate cited in a report on the subject in 2008. In Texas state prisons, many inmates are housed in triple-digit temperatures in Fahrenheit. Four inmates — Larry Gene McCollum, 58; Alexander Togonidze, 44; Michael David Martone, 57; and Kenneth Wayne James, 52 — died in summer of 2011 from heat stroke, and at least five others were believed to have died from heat-related causes (www.texascivilrightsproject.org, July 7, 2012).
American citizens have never really enjoyed common and equal suffrage. Despite an increase of over eight million citizens in the eligible population in the US presidential election of 2012, voter turnout registered a drop of five million from four years before, with only 57.5 percent of eligible citizens voting (bipartisanpolicy.org, November 8, 2012). A February 2012 report by the Pew Center said America’s voter registration system is plagued with errors and inefficiencies that undermine voter confidence and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of the country’s elections (www.pewstates.org).
The US election is like money wars, with trends of the country’s policies deeply influenced by political donations. The 2012 election had an estimated cost totalling six billion US dollars. The Obama campaign and the Democratic camp raised 1.06 billion dollars, and the Romney campaign and the Republican camp raised a total of 954 million dollars (www.standard.co.uk, November 6, 2012). Both groups have funding support from business giants. An opinion poll showed that nearly 90 percent of Americans believe the 2012 election is marked by too many political donations from business circles, which will mean the increased influence of the rich over the country’s policy-making (The International Herald Leader [Chinese newspaper], November 16, 2012). A Harvard professor said America’ s political system is sinking into serious crisis as it is under manipulation of interest groups and their sponsors. Election donations give a loose rein to all other defects. American politics are corroding the people, making them increasingly dependent on interest groups (Internationale Politik, November & December issue, 2012).
Citing a world-known analyst, the Christian Science Monitor website in a report on November 5, 2012 said America’s trouble-prone voting machines, the risk of tampering in those machines, the lack of transparency in vote tabulation, and then the Electoral College system, combine to give the country an election system that leaves much to be desired.
III. On Economic and Social Rights
To date, the US government has not approved the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was already ratified by 160 countries. Many American citizens could not enjoy the internationally-recognized economic and social rights.
Unemployment in the US has long been high. A huge number of Americans newly joined the unemployed population in recent years. Figures released by the US Department of Labor on May 4, 2012 showed that in April 2012 the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, with 12.5 million people unemployed. Citing a report, the Huffington Post website in a story dated December 3, 2012 said nearly 6.5 million US teens and young adults are neither in school nor working, and the employment rate for teens between the ages of 16 and 19 has fallen 42 percent over the last decade. The Los Angeles Times in a report published on April 27, 2012 said the unemployment rate for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq is 10.3 percent, and for veterans aged 24 and under, the rate is 29.1 percent. It is also hard for college graduates to find jobs. The Associated Press reported on April 22, 2012 that 53.6 percent of bachelor’ s degree-holders under the age of 25 in America were jobless or underemployed in 2011. Of the nearly 20 million people employed by the American food industry, just 40 percent are earning enough to put them over the local poverty line (www.huffingtonpost.com, June 6, 2012).
Poverty in the US has increasingly worsened since the economic crisis in 2008. America’ s poverty rate in 2011 was 15 percent, with 46.2 million people in poverty, according to the US Census Bureau data released on September 12, 2012. Almost 18 million American homes struggled to find enough to eat in 2011, including 6.8 million households that worried about having enough money to buy food several months out of the year (www.ers.usda.gov, September 5, 2012). A report carried by the Huffington Post on October 30, 2012 indicated that the US has a staggering 22 percent of its children living in poverty. The US is one of those that have the highest child poverty rates of all developed nations.
The gap between the rich and poor is growing in the US over the years. The US has the fourth worst income inequality compared to other developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. America’s Gini index was 0.477 in 2011 and income inequality increased by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, indicating a widened rich-poor gap. Between 2010 and 2011, the share of aggregate income increased 1.6 percent for the quintile with the highest household income, and increased 4.9 percent for the top five percent households. The aggregate share of income declined for the middle quintile. The changes in the shares of aggregate income for the lowest two quintiles were not statistically significant (www.census.gov, September 12, 2012).
A huge number of people are homeless in the US According to a report released by National Alliance to End Homelessness on January 17, 2012, the nation had 636,017 homeless people in 2011, including 107,148 chronically homeless people. There were 21 homeless people per 10,000 people in the general population. Nearly four in 10 homeless people were unsheltered. The unsheltered population was 243,701 in 2011, up 2 percent from 2009. In April 2012, the New York City homeless shelter population was 10 percent higher than the previous year (www.coalitionforthehomeless.org, June 8, 2012). Homeless people suffer discrimination and assaults. Citing a survey of 234 cities, a USA Today report dated February 15, 2012 said 24 percent of the US cities prohibit begging, 22 percent prohibit loitering, 16 percent labels sleeping in public places as illegal. From 1999 through 2010, the homeless faced 1,184 acts of reported violence resulting in 312 deaths.
The US is among the few developed countries without health insurance covering its whole population. A considerable number of Americans have no access to necessary healthcare services when in illness because of having no health insurance. The number of people without health insurance coverage was 48.6 million in 2011, accounting for 15.7 percent of the population (www.census.gov, September 12, 2012). A Huffington Post report on November 13, 2012 said about 115,000 women in the US lose their private health insurance each year in the wake of divorce, largely because they have trouble paying premiums for private insurance. A study, released on June 20, 2012, by the consumer advocacy group Families USA, estimates that a total of 26,100 people aged 25 to 64 died for lack of health coverage in 2010, up 31 percent from 18,000 in 2000 (www.reuters.com, June 20, 2012).
IV. On Racial Discrimination
The long-existing racial discrimination prevalent in the US society sees no improvements, and ethnic minorities do not enjoy equal political, economic and social rights.
Ethnic Americans’ rights to vote are limited. During the presidential election in November 2012, some Asian-American voters were obstructed at voting stations and received with discriminations (The China Press, November 8, 2012). The United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur used to lodge a joint accusation against the US of failing to fully guarantee the rights to vote of African-Americans and Hispanics. The January/February 2013 edition of the Boston Review reported that as of 2010, more than 5.85 million American citizens were disenfranchised because of criminal convictions, and more than two million African-Americans currently are stripped of their right to vote. The US attorney general also acknowledged, as the rights to vote of some ethnic Americans were restricted by laws requiring proof of identity, some people are as a matter of fact stripped of such rights (The Guardian, May. 30, 2012).
Ethnic Americans are discriminated against in the job market, and their economic well-being worsens as a result. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate of whites was registered 7.0 percent in Oct. 2012, 14.3 percent for African-Americans and 10.0 percent for Hispanics. The average period of unemployment for ethnic minorities is notably longer than that for whites. Asians are unemployed on average for 27.7 weeks, African-Americans for 27 weeks (Desert News, December 4, 2012). According to data from the federal Labor Department, over half of all African-Americans and non-Hispanic blacks in New York city, who were old enough to work, had no jobs in 2012, and it takes them almost a full year on average to find another job (Madame Noire, June 21, 2012). Employment discrimination is the main reason behind income disparity and poverty. According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 12, 2012, the median household income for African-Americans was 32,229 U.S. dollars in 2011, less than 60 percent of that of non-Hispanic whites; and the poverty rate for African-Americans stood at 27.6 percent, almost three times of that of non-Hispanic whites.
Racial discrimination is rampant in the field of law enforcement and justice. The Reuters website reported on July 3, 2012, police tend to be more lenient to whites. Out of more than 685,000 police stops in New York City in 2011, more than 85 percent of the stopped were black or Hispanic. Ethnic Americans are often offended by law enforcement authorities. A 21-year-old black man in Arkansas was searched and put into a police car, and later was found shot in the head while handcuffed (www. telegraph.co.uk, August 8, 2012). The incidence where a 28-year-old black man, Mohamed Bah, was shot dead by New York police outraged the black community (NYDailyNews.com, September 26, 2012). An article on the website of Texas Civil Rights Project on July 24, 2012 said the Austin police’ excessive use of force had led to two fatal police shootings of minority suspects since 2011. The president of the Texas Civil Rights Project said that the shooting death of a dog even received more thorough and careful investigation than the death of a black victim. The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote an article on January 14, 2013, saying “the idea that progress toward racial harmony would or should be steady and continuous is fraying. And the pillars of the institution — the fundamental devaluation of dark skin and strained justifications for the unconscionable — have proved surprisingly resilient.”
Religious discrimination is rapidly on the rise, with an increase in insults and attacks against Muslims. Muslims account for less than one percent of the U.S. population, but are involved in 14 percent of religious discrimination cases under investigation of the federal government, and 25 percent of employment-related discrimination cases (www. sinovision.net, March 29, 2011). In September, 2012, a U.S. film director made a film that is insulting to the Prophet Muhammad and posted it online, which triggered waves of protests in the Muslim world. In Houston, a dead pig was left in front of a mosque (abclocal.go.com, December 5, 2012). The U.S. Navy special operations force was reported to use images of gun-holding Muslim women as training targets (www.nydailynews.com, July 3, 2012). The 57-year-old Muslim, Bashir Ahmad, was stabbed and bitten outside a Mosque by a suspect who shouted anti-Muslim expletive during the attack (Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2012). Since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Justice Department has investigated more than 800 incidents of violence, vandalism and arson against people believed to be Muslim, Arab or South Asian (www. reuters.com, March 29, 2011).
Apartheid in fact still exists in the American society. New York Times reported on August 6, 2012 that, the proportion of non-Hispanic black residents on the Upper East Side is only 2.7 percent, and whites 81 percent. Local co-op boards can reject black buyers without giving a reason, and some Upper East Side co-ops have a reputation for rejecting black buyers. A study found that the New York area was the second most segregated for black people and the third most segregated for Hispanic and Asian residents. A superintendent of NASA Real Estate Corporation was sued for refusing to show three African-Americans any openings, claiming no apartments were available for rent, but showing vacancies to white individuals who inquired about the same apartments less than an hour after turning down black renters, saying, “You look like nice people. That’s why I show you.” (queenscourier.com, December 12, 2012) Furthermore, studies found a rising tide of apartheid in the U.S. workplace. Nineteen out of the 58 surveyed industries showed a trend toward racial re-segregation between white men and black men (www.washingtonpost.com, October 25, 2012).
Racial relationship is in tension, and hate crimes take place frequently. The Associated Press reported on October 28, 2012, citing a latest poll, that 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-African-American attitudes, three percentage points higher than in 2008. The abc.go.com reported on November 19, 2012, three shop owners of Middle Eastern descent were shot dead in four months in Brooklyn, New York, and the police cannot rule out the possibility of the homicides being racially motivated. Two young white men from Mississippi killed a black man by running a truck over him. The two, since 2011, have frequently assaulted and attacked African-Americans in and around Jackson, Mississippi, using beer bottles, sling shots and motor vehicles, and they often bragged about their exploits (Reuters, December 5, 2012). A white gunman named Wade Michael Page killed six Sikh worshippers at their temple, and his motivation was linked to neo-Nazi propaganda, and he was suspected to be a white supremacist (edition. cnn.com, August 10, 2012).
Native Americans’ rights are not properly guaranteed. In 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, pointed out Navajos, a branch of Native Americans, faced racial discrimination, including the lack of access to justice and legal remedies (United Nations document number A/67/328). United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, James Anaya, said the ability of Native Americans to use and access their sacred places is often curtailed by mining, logging, hydroelectric and other development projects. He cited research figures of relevant institutions, saying Native Americans’ poverty rates nearly double the national average, and their life expectancy is 5.2 years less than the national average. Thirteen percent of Native Americans hold a basic university degree, much lower than the national average, 28 percent. Indigenous women are more than twice as likely as all other women to be victims of violence and one in three of them will be raped during her lifetime (United Naitons document number A/HRC/21/47/Add.1).
The rights of illegal immigrants are violated. Deaths often occur in immigration detention centers. United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns said in his report that deaths occurred in prison-like conditions where detention was neither necessary nor appropriate, and where no proper medical care was provided (United Nations document number A/HRC/20/22/Add.3). U.N human rights experts and South Florida Haitian rights advocates call for the U.S. to suspend all deportations to Haiti, saying the deportations may constitute a human rights violation, and may place the Haitians in a life-threatening position (The Miami Herald, June 6, 2012).
V. On the rights of women and children
The U.S. remains one of a few countries in the world that have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women or the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It faces prominent problems in protecting the rights of women and children.
Women face discrimination in employment and payment. Women made up about two-thirds of all workers in the U.S. who were paid minimum wage or less in 2011 and 61 percent of full-time minimum wage workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.womensenews.org, December 11, 2012). On average, women have to work as far as April 17 into 2012 to catch up with that men earned in 2011, meaning women earned 77 cents to the male dollar. African American women earn 62 cents to the male dollar, Latinas 54 cents. In some states, women of color earn less than half as their male counterparts. Women in Wyoming, the lowest ranking state, earn just 64 cents on the male dollar (www.womensenews.org, April 30, 2012). Voters in Oklahoma approved an amendment to the state’s constitution to end affirmative action programs in state government that had been designed to increase the hiring of minorities and women in the state’s 115 agencies (www.articles.chicagotribune.com, November 7, 2012). The problems that pregnant women and new mothers face on the job are very real. Employers routinely ignore mandate in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and are forcing pregnant women out of the workplace (www.edition.cnn.com, November 26, 2012). A Houston mother says she was fired from her job at a collection agency after asking to bring a breast pump into the office so she’d have plenty of fresh breast milk for her newborn. A new Connecticut mom says her new employer asked her to resign after she told them she was pregnant (www.latimes.com, February 8, 2012).
The poverty rate among women is higher than males. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) announced that the poverty rate for women in 2011 was 14.6 percent, compared to men’s 10.9 percent. Women are more likely to live in poverty and about 40 percent of women who head families live in poverty, according to the NWLC. Another report on the plight of female retirees also notes that the poverty rate among retired women is 50 percent higher than their male counterparts (womensenews.org, September 17, 2012).
Women are the victims of violence and sexual assaults. An average of three women in the U.S. lose their lives every day as a result of domestic violence (www.dccadv.org, October 1, 2012). A national census of domestic violence agencies in September 2011 found that more than 67,000 victims were served in a single day (www.womensenews.org, July 17, 2012). In 2010, the arrest rate for rape was 24 percent in the U.S. (www.thedailybeast.com, April 9, 2012). According to the Report on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, submitted by the Special Rapporteur to the General Assembly in 2012, most prison staff in the U.S. is not adequately trained to prevent or respond to inmate sexual assaults, and prison rape often goes unreported and untreated (United Nations document number A/67/227).
Women in the U.S. forces are the victims of widespread sexual abuse, leading to media allegation that the US military has a culture of rape (www.aljazeera.com, August 4, 2012). Around 79 percent of women serving in the military reported experiences of sexual harassment. Military sexual trauma often leads to debilitating conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and major depression (www.servicewomen.org). That Air Force drill instructor Luis Walker was accused of raping and sexually assaulting 10 female trainees is the biggest sex scandal to hit the U.S. military since the 1990s (www.reuters.com, July 21, 2012). In 2011, nearly 3,200 rapes and sexual assaults were officially reported, but the Pentagon admits that represents just 15 percent of all incidents. A military survey revealed that one in five women in the US forces has been sexually assaulted, but most do not report it. Nearly half said that they “did not want to cause trouble in their unit” (www.aljazeera.com, August 4, 2012).
The health of female minority groups is worrying. A media report in June 2012 said rate of HIV infection in heterosexual African American women in the poorest neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. nearly doubled the 6.3 percent infection rate two years before. Officials said 90 percent of all women with HIV in the city are black (www.washingtonpost.com, June 21, 2012). Sixty-six percent of the women newly infected with HIV each year are black, even though African-American women represent only 14 percent of the U.S. female population. The national age-adjusted death rate for black women in the U.S. is nearly 15 times higher than that observed for HIV-infected white women (www.newswise.com, March 7, 2012). Minority women in the U.S. are more likely to die during or soon after childbirth than white women, according to a report posted on the website of the Chicago Tribune on August 3, 2012. For every 100,000 babies born to white women, between seven and nine moms die from complications related to pregnancy. In comparison, 32 to 35 black women die for every 100,000 live babies. Deaths among Hispanic and Asian women – born in the U.S. and abroad – are closer to rates for white women at around 10 per 100,000.
Children in the U.S. are not blessed with enough protection for their personal safety and freedom. According to a report posted on the website of the Daily Telegraph on December 16, 2012, the slaughter of children by gunfire in the U.S. is 25 times the rate of the 20 next largest industrial countries in the world combined. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says at least 100,000 children across the country are trafficked each year (www.usatoday.com, September 27, 2012).
Child sexual abuse is a widespread public health problem. Research indicates that 20 percent of adult females and 5 to 15 percent adult males experienced sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence, according to a report posted on the website of www.preventchildabuse.org on November 5, 2012. In 2010, 63,527 children in the U.S. were victims of child sexual abuse. According to a report by the CNN on October 18, 2012, 1,247 “ineligible volunteer files” of the Boy Scout released that year identified more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from Boy Scout after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys from 1965 to 1985. Priests and leaders of the Boy Scouts had shielded abusers, according to the report. Former Pennsylvania State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 children over 15 years (www.usatoday.com, October 10, 2012). In 2012, several religious figures were found to have sexually assaulted children. In July 2012, Roman Catholic monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to six years in prison for allowing a priest suspected of sexual misconduct with a minor to have continued contact with children (the Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2012). In September, a Roman Catholic bishop in Kansas City was found guilty of failing to tell authorities about child pornography that was produced by a priest under his supervision (the Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2012).
The number of homeless children increases sharply in the U.S. and many children are stricken by poverty. For the first time in history, public schools reported more than one million homeless children and youth, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education on June 27, 2012. This total does not include homeless children and youth who were not enrolled in public preschool programs and those identified by school officials. Forty-four states reported school year-to-year increases in the number of homeless students, with 15 states reporting increases of 20 percent or more. The number of homeless children enrolled in public schools has increased 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year. In Michigan, the number of homeless children enrolled in public schools had increased 315 percent between 2008 and 2011 (www.nlchp.org, June 27, 2012). The number of children in New York city’s shelters hit 19,000 by September 2012. Francheska Luciano, 14, said living in shelter was “like living in hell.” (www.nydailynews.com, September 9, 2012) The U.S. Department of Education said in a report that only 52 percent of identified homeless students who took standardized tests were proficient in reading, and only 51 percent passed the math portion. Homeless students were also found to be more likely to drop out of school and less likely to graduate from high school than their classmates (www.neatoday.org, Nov. 28, 2012). According to “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012,” 22 percent of the children aged 0 to 17, or 16.4 million kids, live in poverty in 2010 (www.csmonitor.com, July 17, 2012). Fourteen states saw increases in child poverty between 2010 and 2011 (usatoday.com, September 23, 2012). Nevada saw a 38 percent increase in child poverty over the past decade (www.csmonitor.com, August 17, 2011).
VI. On U.S. Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has waged wars on other countries most frequently. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both started by the U.S., have caused massive civilian casualties. From 2001 to 2011, the U.S.-led “war on terror” killed between 14,000 and 110,000 per year, said an article posted on the website of Stop the War Coalition on June 14, 2012 (stopwar.org.uk, June 14, 2012). The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tallied at least 10,292 non-combatants killed from 2007 to July 2011. The Iraq Body Count project records approximately 115,000 civilians killed in the cross-fire from 2003 to August 2011. According to the article, beyond the two states under occupation, the “War on Terror” has spilled into a number of neighboring countries including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing a great many civilians there. From 2004 to the time the article was written, a minimum of 484 civilians, including 168 children, were killed in strikes that occurred in Pakistan. It was also reported by the media that strikes resulted in 56 civilian deaths in Yemen, the article added. A news report, posted on BBC’s website on September 25, 2012, pointed at recurrent U.S. drone attacks in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan (www.bbc.co.uk, September 25, 2012). “Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are innocent civilians,” said an article posted on September 25, 2012, on the website of the Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk, September 25, 2012).
U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan also kill civilians for no reason. U.S. soldier Robert Bales was reported to walk out of a military base in the southern province of Kandahar at 3 o’clock on the night of March 11, 2012 and killed 17 civilians, including nine children. Bales split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again. He first came to one family in a nearby village and shot a man dead, which scared others in the family to hide in neighborhood. Then he went to a second family and shot dead three people and injured six. Afterwards, he returned to his base and left for another village after chatting with one soldier at the base. In the village, he broke into a family and shot dead more than 10 people who were sound asleep. After the massacre, he collected some of the bodies and burned them.( The Agence France-Presse, March 23, 2012; The Associated Press, March 24, 2012; The Huffington Post, November, 11, 2012)
U.S.-led military operations have also brought forth ecological disasters. An article posted on the website of The Independent on October 14, 2012 cited a study that reported a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war (www.independent.co.uk, October 14, 2012). Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said that the Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) from March 2003 through December 2007, according to a piece posted on December 21, 2009 on coto2.wordpress.com (coto2.wordpress.com, December 21, 2009). “The war emits more than 60 percent of all countries,” said Kretzmann. A study, cited by an article posted on the website of The Independent on October 14, 2012, linked a huge rise that Iraq had recorded since the war in birth defects with military actions in which American forces used metal contaminant-releasing white phosphorus shells. It found that in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which saw two of the heaviest battles during the Iraq war, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the war, the figure was more like one in 10. More than 45 percent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from the previous 10 percent (www.independent.co.uk, October 14, 2012).
U.S. soldiers have also severely insulted Afghan people’s dignity and blasphemed against their religion. The AFP reported on September 24, 2012 that during a counter-insurgency operation in July 2011, four U.S. Marines urinated on three bloodied bodies of dead Taliban fighters, and one said, “Have a great day, buddy,” to one of the dead. A videotape depicting their actions was recorded and later circulated on the Internet (The Agence France-Presse, September 24, 2012). In February 2012, U.S. troops at Bagram air base provoked public indignation by taking a batch of religious materials, including 500 copies of the Koran, to the incinerator, said a news story posted on the website of the Washington Post on August 27, 2012 (www.washingtonpost.com, August 27, 2012).
The U.S. army has for long detained foreigners illegally at the Guantanamo prison. By January 2012, 171 people were still held there, said an article posted on the website of Watching America on January 17, 2012. They were denied the rights accorded to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, and savagely tortured (www.watchingamerica, January 17, 2012). American authorities have revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, some of the few being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers, said an article posted on the website of the New York Times on June 24, 2012 (www.nytimes.com, June 24, 2012). Media reported that in September 2012, a 32-year-old Yemeni named Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the ninth to have died there while in custody. He had been held at the detention camp since it was established in January 2002, without being charged with any crime (abcnews.go.com). On January 23, 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke out against the failure by the U.S. to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and to ensure accountability for serious violations – including torture – that took place there (www.un.org, January 23, 2012). A noted American wrote in an article that the American government’s counterterrorism policies “are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'” (www.nytimes.com, June 24, 2012).
The U.S. refuses to acknowledge “the right to development,” which is a common concern among the majority of countries. In September 2012, the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution on “the right to development.” Except an abstention vote from the U.S., all the HRC members voted for the resolution. The 67th session of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the 21st consecutive resolution, by a recorded vote of 188 in favor to three against with two abstentions, calling for an end to the U.S.’ 50-plus years of economic blockade against Cuba. One of the three dissenting votes was from the U.S. (United Nations document number GA/11311)
Source: Information Office of China’s State Council, or the Cabinet
Published in China Daily
U.S. View on China
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)
by U.S. State Department – Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount authority. CCP members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its seven-member Standing Committee. Xi Jinping holds two of the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission; during the March 2013 meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Xi was expected to assume the third key position by becoming president of the PRC. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the military and internal security forces.
Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in rights advocacy and public interest issues, were routine. Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. Efforts to silence and intimidate political activists and public interest lawyers continued to increase. Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance, “soft detention,” and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent the public voicing of independent opinions. Public interest law firms that took on sensitive cases continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure. There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and harsh restrictions on the movement of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such as the visit of foreign officials, sensitive anniversaries, and in the period leading up to the meeting of the 18th Party Congress in November.
As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government, and citizens had limited forms of redress against the government. Other human rights problems during the year included: extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process; enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, including prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities known as “black jails”; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; detention and harassment of lawyers, journalists, writers, dissidents, petitioners, and others who sought to exercise peacefully their rights under the law; a lack of due process in judicial proceedings; political control of courts and judges; closed trials; the use of administrative detention; restrictions on freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel; failure to protect refugees and asylum seekers; pressure on other countries to forcibly return PRC citizens to China; intense scrutiny of and restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination against women, minorities, and persons with disabilities; a coercive birth-limitation policy that in some cases resulted in forced abortion (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy) or forced sterilization; trafficking in persons; prohibitions on independent unions and a lack of protection for workers’ right to strike; and the use of forced labor, including prison labor. Corruption remained widespread.
Authorities prosecuted a number of abuses of power, particularly with regard to corruption. However, the internal disciplinary procedures of the CCP were opaque and only selectively applied to senior officials.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
During the year security forces reportedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings (see Tibet annex). In many instances few or no details were available.
According to a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report, an 11-year-old ethnic Uighur boy named Mirzahid died after being taken into police custody on May 20 for attending an unregistered Islamic school. While official reports claimed he died due to beatings by his religious teacher, overseas rights groups alleged police tortured him to death.
It was not clear to what extent impunity was a problem. Following cases of police killings there often was an announcement that an investigation was to be conducted. However, it was not clear whether there were any findings of police malfeasance or any cases in which police were disciplined.
There were conflicting accounts of a February 28 clash in Yecheng, XUAR, in which knife-wielding assailants killed 13 pedestrians and injured many others. According to an official news report, during an exchange of gunfire with the attackers, police killed seven Uighur men and captured one. Overseas groups claimed that the attack was spurred by Uighur anger over the migration of ethnic Han to the area and targeted security personnel. While official reports did not specify the ethnicity of the attackers or victims, an exile group claimed that 10 Uighurs, seven police officers, and five others were killed in the incident. RFA separately reported that Uighurs had killed three ethnic Han and that police killed 12 young Uighurs.
While the government did not report official statistics regarding deaths in custody, some cases garnered media coverage.
On June 19, a Nigerian man died while in custody at a Guangzhou police station in connection with his involvement in a fight over a disputed motorbike fare. The Guangzhou Public Security Bureau published a statement on its Web site claiming that, after police apprehended the man, he later “passed out,” and a rescue team was unable to resuscitate him. The official Xinhua News Agency announced that officials launched an investigation into the death, but authorities never publicly released findings.
On November 6, Zhang Yaodong, a petitioner from Henan Province, died after “black security guards” (agents employed unofficially or indirectly by local and provincial authorities to prevent persons from their jurisdictions from petitioning central authorities in Beijing about a variety of grievances) beat him to death in a van returning him home from Beijing. Beijing police restricted the medical examination of Zhang’s body to an external one, which could not determine the cause of death. Officials in Henan offered to pay compensation of 3.3 million RMB ($530,000) to the family if it conceded that Zhang had died of disease and agreed not to seek further compensation or petition the central government on the matter.
Defendants in criminal proceedings were executed following convictions that lacked due process and adequate channels for appeal.
In May Beijing public security officials detained Song Ze for disturbing public order after he aided petitioners and transported Chen Kegui’s wife (Chen Kegui is the nephew of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, see section 1.e.) to Beijing to avoid abuse by local government officials. Public security officials subsequently transferred Song to residential surveillance at an unknown location. At year’s end Song’s whereabouts remained unknown.
At year’s end the government had not provided a comprehensive, credible accounting of all those killed, missing, or detained in connection with the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. In May the Duihua Foundation, an international human rights NGO, estimated that fewer than a dozen remained in prison, although other estimates were higher. Many activists who were involved in the demonstrations continued to suffer from official harassment.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits the physical abuse of detainees and forbids prison guards from extracting confessions by torture, insulting prisoners’ dignity, and beating or encouraging others to beat prisoners. In March the NPC enacted amendments to the criminal procedure law that exclude evidence, including confessions, obtained through illegal means, including under torture in certain categories of criminal cases. The amendments were scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013.
Numerous former prisoners and detainees reported that they were beaten, subjected to electric shock, forced to sit on stools for hours on end, deprived of sleep, and otherwise subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Although ordinary prisoners were subjects of abuse, political and religious dissidents were singled out for particularly harsh treatment. In some instances close relatives of dissidents also were singled out for abuse.
Following fall from power of Chongqing Party Secretary and Politburo member Bo Xilai, defense lawyer Li Zhuang, who ran afoul of the Bo-led Chongqing City leadership in 2009, recounted being strapped into a “tiger seat,” a device that immobilizes the subject in an upright position, for three days and three nights during his interrogation. According to Li, other persons were interrogated in tiger seats for even longer periods, and at least one person was suspended by handcuffs from the ceiling with his feet barely touching a table. Li was subsequently convicted on a charge of having persuaded one of his clients to claim falsely he had been tortured.
In April police detained three Guangzhou-based residents charged with illegal assembly for staging a demonstration calling on officials to disclose publicly their financial assets (see section 4). Authorities reportedly prevented one of the detainees, activist Xiao Yong, from sleeping for up to five days, causing multiple medical complications. Xiao was later remanded to two years of reeducation through labor (RTL) in Shaoyang, Hunan Province.
On June 6, an explosion injured 12 students during a police raid at an Islamic school located in a residential building in Hotan, XUAR. According to overseas human rights groups, the explosion resulted when tear gas used by police during the raid of the school combusted. According to a report in the official press, “suspects” at the “illegal Koran teaching camp” started a fire with explosives, causing injuries to 12 students and three police officers.
On June 20, activist Hu Jia was beaten as he was leaving his Beijing apartment by men he identified as state security personnel.
In August, Beijing police arrested a group of activists trying to submit an application for information about the formulation of China’s second National Human Rights Action Plan. Peng Lanlan of Hunan Province was charged with obstructing official business and was tortured by being bound to a tiger seat.
There were widespread reports of activists and petitioners being committed to mental health facilities and involuntarily subjected to psychiatric treatment for political reasons. According to Legal Daily, the Ministry of Public Security directly administered 24 high-security psychiatric hospitals for the criminally insane (also known as ankang facilities). From 1998 to May 2010, more than 40,000 persons were committed to ankang hospitals. In 2010 an official of the Ministry of Public Security stated in a media interview that detention in ankang facilities was not appropriate for patients who did not demonstrate criminal behavior. However, political activists, underground religious believers, persons who repeatedly petitioned the government, members of the banned Chinese Democracy Party (CDP), and Falun Gong practitioners were among those housed with mentally ill patients in these institutions.
In October the government passed legislation banning involuntary mental health examinations and inpatient treatment except in cases in which patients express an intent to harm themselves or others. However, critics maintained that the law still does not provide meaningful legal protections for persons sent to psychiatric facilities. The March amendments to the criminal procedure law require procuratorate review and a court decision for the psychiatric commitment of persons who have committed serious offenses but are exempt from criminal responsibility under the law. The amendments, scheduled to go into effect in January 2013, include a provision for appealing compulsory medical treatment decisions. Implementing regulations will affect how the amendments are carried out in practice.
According to a human rights NGO, officials from Xiangxiang City, Hunan Province, seized Gu Xianghong in July while she was petitioning in front of a foreign embassy and forcibly committed her to Kangning Psychiatric Hospital in Xiangxiang. Gu has reportedly been sent to psychiatric hospitals 10 times since 1999 in retaliation for her petitioning against family planning policies and her mother’s forced eviction from her home.
In March officials from Inner Mongolia forcibly committed Yang Yamei to Hulunbuir Municipal Mental Health Center in Yakeshi City, Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, after returning her from Beijing where she was petitioning. Officials have subjected Yang to RTL and multiple detentions in psychiatric hospitals since 2004 for petitioning about economic grievances and her subsequent detentions. Ankang doctors forced her to take drugs that ultimately aggravated her heart disease and caused intense headaches.
Between April 11 and 13, petitioner Zhu Guiqin from Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was reportedly kidnapped, raped, and held in Beijing by unidentified men hired by the Fushun government. She was then transported back to Fushun where she was met by a local official and detained for three days. Zhu alleged that she reported her case to the Fushun and Beijing police, who refused to investigate.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Conditions in penal institutions for both political prisoners and criminal offenders were generally harsh and often degrading.
Advocacy groups continued to report instances of organ harvesting from prisoners. In March, Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu reportedly pledged to abolish within three to five years the practice of taking human organs for transplant from death row prisoners. In November, Ministry of Health official Wang Haibo reportedly called the use of prisoner organs “unethical” and stated that the phasing out of the country’s reliance on prisoners via a new donation system would begin in early 2013.
Forced labor remained a serious problem in penal institutions. Many prisoners and detainees in penal and RTL facilities were required to work, often with no remuneration.
Physical Conditions: Prisoners and detainees were regularly held in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation. Food often was inadequate and of poor quality, and many detainees relied on supplemental food, medicines, and warm clothing provided by relatives. Prisoners often reported sleeping on the floor because there were no beds or bedding. Adequate, timely medical care for prisoners remained a serious problem, despite official assurances that prisoners have the right to prompt medical treatment.
Information on the prison population is not made public. In a report to the NPC Standing Committee, the Minister of Justice stated that the country had 681 prisons with 1.64 million inmates. The International Center for Prison Studies (ICPS) reported that in 2009, in addition to sentenced prisoners, 650,000 persons were held in detention centers and that estimates of pretrial detainees were between 100,000 and 260,000 persons. The ICPS reported that in mid-2010 female prisoners made up approximately 5.1 percent of the prison population, and in 2005 juveniles made up 1.4 percent. The law requires juveniles be held separately from adults, unless facilities are insufficient. In practice children were sometimes held with adult prisoners and required to work. Political prisoners were held with the general prison population and reported being beaten by other prisoners at the instigation of guards. Some prominent dissidents were not allowed to receive supplemental food, medicine, and warm clothing from relatives.
The law mandates that a prison shall be ventilated, allow for natural light, and be clean and warm. The law further provides that a prison “shall set up medical, living, and sanitary facilities and institute regulations on the life and sanitation of prisoners.” It also states that the medical and health care of prisoners shall be put into the public health and epidemic prevention program of the area in which the prison is located. However, in many cases provisions for sanitation, ventilation, heating, lighting, basic and emergency medical care, and access to potable water were inadequate.
Conditions in administrative detention facilities, such as RTL camps, were similar to those in prisons. Beating deaths occurred in administrative detention and RTL facilities. Detainees reported beatings, sexual assaults, lack of proper food, and no access to medical care.
Administration: It was unclear whether recordkeeping on prisoners was adequate. Authorities employ alternatives to incarceration for both violent and nonviolent offenders. According to Vice Minister of Justice Zhao Dacheng, more than one million convicts have served their sentences in community corrections programs since 2003. There were no prison ombudsmen per se; however, prisoners and detainees are legally entitled to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and request investigation of credible allegations of inhuman conditions. The law states that letters from a prisoner to higher authorities of the prison or to the judicial organs shall be free from examination. While authorities occasionally investigated credible allegations of inhuman conditions, the results were not documented in a publicly accessible manner. Many prisoners and detainees did not have reasonable access to visitors and were not permitted religious observance. Under article 52 of the prison law, “considerations shall be given to the special habits and customs of prisoners of minority ethnic groups.” Detention Center Regulation article 23 has similar requirements. Little information was available about the implementation of these regulations.
Monitoring: The law requires the government to investigate and monitor prison and detention center conditions, and an official from the Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for investigating and monitoring prison and detention center conditions.
Information about prisons, including associated labor camps and factories, was considered a state secret, and the government generally did not permit independent monitoring of prisons or RTL camps. Prisoners remained inaccessible to local and international human rights organizations and media groups. Authorities did not allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to have access to prisoners or perform authentic prison visits in the country.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems. The law grants police broad administrative detention powers and the ability to detain individuals for extended periods without formal arrest or criminal charges. Throughout the year human rights activists, journalists, unregistered religious leaders, and former political prisoners and their family members continued to be among those targeted for arbitrary detention or arrest.
On May 4, Zhao Guangjun from Liaoning Province was reportedly seized and taken to a black jail (an unofficial detention center) at Jiujingzhuang after he attempted to see Chen Guangcheng at the Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing. Government officials from Liaoning reportedly escorted Zhao back to his hometown of Panjin to serve 10 days of administrative detention at a detention center.
In February, Shanghai dissident Feng Zhenghu was placed under unofficial house arrest at his apartment in Shanghai. According to Western media reports and other sources, Feng was not allowed to leave his apartment and had limited communication with the outside world, although he did not face any criminal charges. Feng was previously detained without charge under unofficial house arrest during Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo. Dozens of Shanghai petitioners reportedly were illegally detained throughout the year in Beijing, often held in unofficial detention centers before being forcibly returned to Shanghai. Shanghai dissident and former lawyer Zheng Enchong also remained under unofficial house arrest and reportedly was not allowed to leave his house without specific permission from security officials. Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng remained in prison in Xinjiang for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence. Authorities sharply limited access to him and at times concealed his whereabouts.
Ma Daqin, auxiliary bishop of the Shanghai Diocese, was detained at the Sheshan Seminary in July after he publicly renounced his position in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the government organization that oversees the Roman Catholic Church. Ma reportedly remained detained at the seminary and was not permitted to perform religious duties or receive visitors following his announcement.
On September 30, petitioner Mao Hengfeng was arrested in Beijing and forcibly returned to Shanghai. She was not permitted to meet with relatives or her lawyer. In early November her husband was informed that Mao had been ordered to serve 18 months in an RTL camp for “gathering a crowd to disturb the public order.” At year’s end she remained in detention.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The main domestic security agencies include the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Armed Police. The People’s Liberation Army is primarily responsible for external security but also has some domestic security responsibilities. Local jurisdictions also frequently used civilian municipal security forces, known as “urban management” officials, to enforce administrative measures. The Ministry of Public Security coordinates the country’s civilian police force, which is organized into specialized police agencies and local, county, and provincial jurisdictions. Procuratorate oversight of the police was limited, and checks and balances were absent. Corruption at the local level was widespread. Police and urban management officials engaged in extrajudicial detention, extortion, and assault. In 2009 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate acknowledged continuing widespread abuse in law enforcement. In 2009 domestic news media reported the convictions of public security officials who had beaten to death prisoners or suspects in their custody.
In May the Ministry of Supervision, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and the Ministry of Justice jointly issued regulations stating that police in prisons and RTL facilities face dismissal if they are found to have beaten, applied corporal punishment, abused inmates, or instigated such acts.
In August a court in Kaifeng City sentenced police officers Wang Songlin and Guo Shouhai to two years in prison and Ding Zhongqiu, Luo Mingzhu, and Zhou Minghan to sentences ranging from 12 to 18 months. The five police officers were among those who tortured Zhao Zuohai, a farmer in Zhecheng County, for 33 days before he confessed to killing a man who was subsequently found alive. Zhao spent 11 years in prison. A sixth police officer was acquitted.
Oversight of urban management officials is highly localized and ad hoc. By law the officials can be criminally prosecuted for abuses of power, but such cases were rarely pursued in practice. In multiple incidents throughout the country, street vendors clashed, often physically, with urban management officials. In some cases mediation resulted in compensation being paid to victims of urban management officials.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
Police detention beyond 37 days requires prosecutorial approval of a formal arrest. After arrest, police are authorized to detain a suspect for up to an additional seven months while the case is investigated.
After the completion of a police investigation, an additional 45 days of detention are allowed for the procuratorate to determine whether to file criminal charges. If charges are filed, authorities can detain a suspect for an additional 45 days before beginning judicial proceedings. In practice police sometimes detained persons beyond the period allowed by law. Pretrial detention periods of a year or longer were common. The law stipulates that detainees be allowed to meet with defense counsel before criminal charges are filed. Police often violated this right.
The criminal procedure law requires a court to provide a lawyer to a defendant who has not already retained a lawyer; who is blind, deaf, mute, or a minor; or who may be sentenced to death. The revised criminal procedure law scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013, adds defendants facing a life sentence and who are mentally ill. This law applies whether or not the defendant is indigent. Courts may also provide lawyers to other criminal defendants who cannot afford them, although courts often did not appoint counsel in such circumstances.
Criminal defendants are entitled to apply for bail (also translated as “a guarantor pending trial”) while awaiting trial. However, in practice few suspects were released on bail.
The law requires notification of family members within 24 hours of detention, but individuals were often held without notification for significantly longer periods, especially in politically sensitive cases. Under a sweeping exception, officials are not required to provide notification if doing so would “hinder the investigation” of a case. The revised criminal procedure law limits this exception to cases involving state security or terrorism.
The law allows for residential surveillance rather than detention in a formal facility under certain circumstances. Under the revised criminal procedure law, with the approval of the next higher-level authorities, officials can enforce “residential surveillance” on a suspect at a designated place of residence (i.e., a place other than the suspect’s home) for up to six months, when they suspect crimes of endangering state security, terrorism, or serious bribery, and residential surveillance at the suspect’s residence would impede the investigation. Authorities must notify relatives of individuals placed under formal arrest or residential surveillance in a designated abode within 24 hours, unless notification is impossible. They are not required to specify the grounds for or whereabouts of the detention. Authorities can also prevent defense lawyers from meeting with suspects in these categories of cases.
The law provides for the right to petition the government for resolution of grievances. However, citizens who traveled to Beijing to petition the central government were frequently subjected to arbitrary detention, often by police dispatched from the petitioner’s hometown. Some provincial governments operated facilities in Beijing or in other localities where petitioners from their districts were held in extrajudicial detention. Some local governments took steps to restrict petitioning. According to a 2010 Shanxi provincial government report, the Shanxi Province People’s Congress adopted regulations that list eight types of “prohibited” petitioning, including “illegally gathering, encircling, or rushing into government offices or important public spaces, stopping cars or hindering public transportation, linking up with others to petition,” and similar acts. The Shanxi regulations also state that petitioners suspected of “misrepresenting facts to frame others” could be subject to criminal charges.
Online reports claimed Guangdong provincial authorities rewarded local officials for active engagement in intercepting petitioners.
Authorities in Shaoguan, Guangdong, held a rights defense representative in a black jail for more than 10 weeks after he was forcibly returned from Beijing in March for petitioning during the sessions of the NPC and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) on behalf of fellow villagers who claimed local officials did not provide adequate compensation for government-requisitioned land. A resident of Guangdong’s Jiangmen Municipality attempting to petition her case to Beijing was kidnapped by unidentified men on May 23 and sent back to Jiangmen, where she was detained for days.
According to multiple online reports, authorities seized and then sent to Beijing’s Jiujingzhang black jail four elderly petitioners from Guangxi who were in the capital in early March to petition officials about requisitioned land, evictions, and demolitions in the petitioners’ hometown. After the petitioners refused authorities’ orders to return to Guangxi, security guards hired by local Guangxi officials reportedly forcibly drove them out of Beijing. In November foreign media reported on a couple held in a Shanghai hotel used as a black jail after they attempted to petition authorities in Beijing about the amount of compensation they received for the destruction of their home during the expansion of a Shanghai area airport. Prior to the Party Congress in November, several petitioners from Shanghai were seized in Beijing and held in black jails before being returned to Shanghai.
Kim Young-hwan, a South Korean advocate for democracy in North Korea, and three other South Korean activists were arrested in the northeastern part of the country on March 29 and held until July 20 on charges of endangering national security. During the 114-day detention, South Korean officials claimed, Kim and the others were initially denied proper access to consular services. Kim also alleged that security officials tortured him while he was in custody.
Nonjudicial panels, known as “labor reeducation panels,” may remand persons to RTL camps or other administrative detention programs for up to three years without trial. Labor reeducation panels are authorized to extend these administrative sentences for up to one year. Detainees are technically allowed to challenge administrative RTL sentences and appeal for sentence reduction or suspension. However, appeals were rarely successful. Other forms of administrative detention include “custody and education” (for women engaged in prostitution and those soliciting prostitution) and “custody and training” (for minor criminal offenders). The law establishes a system of “compulsory isolation for drug rehabilitation.” The minimum stay in such centers is two years, and the law states that treatment can include labor. Public security organs authorize detention in these centers, and it often was meted out as an administrative rather than criminal measure. Authorities used administrative detention to intimidate political activists and prevent public demonstrations.
In January and February, hundreds of Tibetans returning by land from Nepal were reportedly subjected to arbitrary detention and mandatory patriotic education (see the Tibet annex).
Arbitrary Arrest: Authorities arrested persons on allegations of revealing state secrets, subversion, and other crimes as a means to suppress political dissent and public advocacy. These charges–including what constitutes a state secret–remained ill defined. Citizens and foreigners also were detained under broad and ambiguous state secrets laws for, among other actions, disclosing information on criminal trials, meetings, commercial activity, and government activity. Authorities sometimes retroactively labeled a particular action as a violation of a state secret. According to an RFA report, local officials in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, detained Zhou Xingrong, whose child died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, for nine hours in April for allegedly revealing “state secrets” by microblogging about efforts by bereaved parents to obtain compensation for their children’s earthquake-related deaths.
Hunan activist Zhu Chengzhi was formally arrested for “inciting subversion of state power” in July after two months of incommunicado detention. Zhu was among those who called into question the suspicious death of 1989 labor leader Li Wangyang, which police initially ruled a suicide and later an “accidental death.”
Authorities placed into custody or otherwise detained at least a dozen human rights and democracy activists associated with a land expropriation dispute in eastern Guangdong’s Wukan Village. According to multiple reports, authorities detained both Guangzhou and Shenzhen activists for periods of 10-15 days for participating in Guangzhou-based protests during the December 2011 demonstrations in Wukan, consulting with Wukan villagers as the villagers staged elections in March, and providing financial support to newly elected officials cut off from official district-level funding.
According to foreign press reports, in April local police seized a Guangzhou Internet user for publicly calling on officials to disclose their financial assets and held him until early July on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” While in detention the individual was reportedly not allowed to meet with his lawyers and was permitted only one visit with his family. Police never provided formal documentation about his detention, and at year’s end he remained under residential surveillance.
In September authorities detained Guangdong lawyer Tang Jingling for five days, depriving him of sleep and destroying his cellphone, laptop, and camera. Tang was also placed in detention for eight hours to prevent him from attending a national day event at a foreign embassy.
Authorities placed numerous dissidents, activists, and petitioners under house arrest during the October National Day holiday period and at other sensitive times, such as during the visits of senior foreign government officials or in the period preceding the once-a-decade leadership transition during the 18th Party Conference, the annual plenary sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, and sensitive anniversaries in Tibetan areas and the XUAR.
Conditions faced by those under house arrest varied but sometimes included complete isolation in their homes under police guard. In some instances security officials were stationed inside the homes of subjects under house arrest. For example, Guangzhou police placed webmaster Ye Du under house arrest on October 13 and did not allow him to leave his apartment or have visitors until the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress on November 15. Others under house arrest occasionally were permitted to leave their homes to work or run errands but were required to ride in police vehicles. In some cases police or plainclothes security officers escorted the children of politically sensitive individuals to and from school. When permitted to leave their homes, subjects of house arrest were usually under police surveillance. Authorities in the XUAR used house arrest and other forms of arbitrary detention against those accused of supporting the “three evils” of religious extremism, “splittism,” and terrorism.
On February 17, authorities disrupted the activities of several Guangzhou activists in connection with their involvement in a commemorative gathering at Guangzhou’s Martyrs’ Park of 1,000 veterans of China’s 1979 war with Vietnam. Local police reportedly seized one activist who was observing the event; searched the home of another observer, confiscating the camera she used at the event; and detained a third activist to prevent him from attending the gathering.
In advance of and during the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, according to multiple reports, Guangxi rights activists placed under residential detention by local police went on hunger strikes; the online distribution of a Guangzhou artist’s work was restricted due to its political content; and police detained two activists from Fujian Province who participated in a public march.
In July authorities in Beijing detained approximately 10 Fujian Province petitioners for staging protests calling for political reforms and attempting to visit a prominent activist, according to online reports. The petitioners, who reportedly faced harassment and mistreatment while being held in an unofficial Beijing jail, faced various sentences for their actions, from five-day administrative detentions to one year in an RTL camp.
In May authorities either detained or placed under police surveillance members of the Guizhou Human Rights Symposium, including Li Renke, Wu Yuqin, Mi Chongbiao, Huang Yanming, and Lu Yongxiang, according to the NGO Human Rights in China.
Pretrial Detention: Pretrial detention can last as long as one year. Defendants in “sensitive cases” reported being subjected to prolonged pretrial detention.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law states that the courts shall exercise judicial power independently, without interference from administrative organs, social organizations, and individuals. However, in practice the judiciary was not independent. Legal scholars interpreted President Hu Jintao’s doctrine of the “Three Supremes” as stating that the interests of the CCP are above the law. Judges regularly received political guidance on pending cases, including instructions on how to rule, from both the government and the CCP, particularly in politically sensitive cases. The CCP Law and Politics Committee has the authority to review and influence court operations at all levels of the judiciary.
Corruption also influenced court decisions. Safeguards against judicial corruption were vague and poorly enforced. Local governments appoint and pay local court judges and, as a result, often exerted influence over the rulings of judges in their districts.
Courts are not authorized to rule on the constitutionality of legislation. The law permits organizations or individuals to question the constitutionality of laws and regulations, but a constitutional challenge can be directed only to the promulgating legislative body. As a result, lawyers had little or no opportunity to use the constitution in litigation.
There was no presumption of innocence, and the criminal justice system was biased toward a presumption of guilt, especially in high-profile or politically sensitive cases. According to the Supreme People’s Court, in 2011 the combined conviction rate for first- and second-instance criminal trials was 99.9 percent. Of 1,051,638 criminal defendants tried in 2011, 891 were acquitted.
In many politically sensitive trials, courts handed down guilty verdicts with no deliberation immediately following proceedings. Courts often punished defendants who refused to acknowledge guilt with harsher sentences than those who confessed. The appeals process rarely reversed convictions. Appeals processes failed to provide sufficient avenues for review, and remedies for violations of defendants’ rights were inadequate.
Regulations of the Supreme People’s Court require all trials to be open to the public, with the exceptions of cases involving state secrets, privacy issues, and minors. Authorities used the state-secrets provision to keep politically sensitive proceedings closed to the public, sometimes even to family members, and to withhold access to defense counsel. Court regulations state that foreigners with valid identification should be allowed to observe trials under the same criteria as citizens. In practice foreigners were permitted to attend court proceedings only by invitation. As in past years, foreign diplomats and journalists unsuccessfully sought permission to attend a number of trials. In some instances the trials were reclassified as “state secrets” cases or otherwise closed to the public. Foreign diplomats were refused access to the July 27 appeal hearing of Ni Yulan, which reduced her sentence by two months but upheld convictions for “making trouble” and fraud.
Some trials were broadcast, and court proceedings were a regular television feature. A few courts published their verdicts on the Internet.
The law grants most defendants the right to seek legal counsel upon initial detention and interrogation, although police frequently violated this right. Chen Kegui was repeatedly denied access to an attorney of his choosing, and several lawyers who tried to represent him were threatened with disbarment. Local officials insisted that Chen could only be represented by a court-appointed defense attorney who refused to provide his family with any information.
The revised criminal procedure law, set to take effect on January 1, 2013, makes clear that a criminal suspect may retain a lawyer immediately after an initial police interrogation or after his or her freedom has been officially limited. Investigators are required to inform suspects of their right to retain counsel. The police must also arrange meetings between a defense lawyer and his or her client within 48 hours of a request from defense counsel.
Individuals facing administrative detention do not have the right to seek legal counsel. Both criminal and administrative defendants were eligible for legal assistance, although more than 50 percent of criminal defendants went to trial without a lawyer. According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2011 there were approximately 110,000 criminal cases of more than 800,000 total legal aid cases. The revised criminal procedure law expanded requirements for legal aid to include cases that could result in life imprisonment and cases involving individuals suffering from mental illness.
Human rights lawyers reported that authorities did not permit them to defend certain clients or threatened them with punishment if they chose to do so. The government suspended or revoked the licenses of lawyers or their firms to stop them from taking sensitive cases, such as defending prodemocracy dissidents, house church activists, Falun Gong practitioners, or government critics. In at least one case, a Beijing-based rights lawyer attempting to visit a client in a major coastal city was turned back by local security authorities, who told him that the individual would be allowed to hire a local lawyer only.
The government continued to require law firms with three or more CCP members to form a CCP unit within the firm. Firms with one or two CCP members may establish joint CCP units with other firms. In smaller counties and cities with few lawyers, CCP members may join local Justice Bureau CCP units. This rule also applies to private companies and other organizations.
Some lawyers declined to represent defendants in politically sensitive cases, and such defendants frequently found it difficult to find an attorney. Three days after the July 2011 Wenzhou train crash, law firms in Wenzhou received an urgent message in the names of the Wenzhou Judicial Bureau and the Wenzhou Lawyers Association ordering lawyers not to take cases representing family members of the crash victims. Lawyers were told to inform the Wenzhou Judicial Bureau and the Wenzhou Lawyers Association of any contact with victims who sought legal assistance. After the order was leaked to the press and social media sites, a popular uproar forced the organizations to rescind the order. Similarly, certain Beijing-based rights lawyers were told they could not represent Tibetan defendants. On July 17, a court in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, told attorneys Wang Yajun and Zhang Kai that local court-appointed lawyers were representing their client, Tibetan Buddhist monk Jigme Gyatso, and that they should return to Beijing, according to an RFA report. Certain local governments in the XUAR and Tibetan areas implemented regulations stipulating that only locally registered attorneys were authorized to represent local defendants.
When defendants were able to retain counsel in politically sensitive cases, government officials sometimes prevented attorneys from organizing an effective defense. Tactics employed by court and government officials included unlawful detentions, disbarment, harassment and physical intimidation, and denial of access to evidence and to clients.
Authorities released three of the four defense lawyers from Guangxi’s Beihai City detained in June 2011 on suspicion of “obstructing testimony” in connection with their defense of individuals accused in a beating death. However, the fourth defense lawyer remained under house arrest in a location other than his home, and authorities prohibited his wife from seeing him.
The annual licensing review process administered by the Beijing Lawyers Association was used to withhold or delay the renewal of professional lawyers’ licenses, which restricted the ability to practice law of a number of human rights and public interest lawyers. Judicial authorities refused to renew the law license of attorney Liu Xiaoyuan for a period after he began representing artist Ai Weiwei in 2011. By year’s end Liu’s license had been renewed. However, the association did not also issue a license for his firm, Qijian Law. In October under government pressure, Liu moved to dissolve Qijian.
Government officials continued to harass lawyers for their involvement in high-profile, rights-related cases.
In May, Guangdong authorities canceled the renewal of a Guangzhou lawyer’s license for representing Chen Kegui. The lawyer, whose law firm was forced to cancel his employment contract, has since been detained and interrogated by police on several occasions.
In June police blocked efforts by a Guangzhou-based lawyer to represent the family of Li Wangyang, who died under suspicious circumstances in Dayang Hospital in Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, and whose death police ruled a suicide. While Shaoyang authorities denied the lawyer access to the hospital and forced him to leave town, Guangzhou police harassed the lawyer’s family on a daily basis at their home.
Defense attorneys may be held legally responsible if their client commits perjury, and prosecutors and judges have wide discretion to decide what constitutes perjury. In some sensitive cases lawyers had no pretrial access to their clients, and defendants and lawyers were not allowed to communicate with one another during trials. In practice criminal defendants were frequently not assigned an attorney until a case was brought to court. According to a Ministry of Justice official, in 2011 lawyers represented fewer than half of criminal defendants, and, in some provincial-level administrative regions, only an estimated 12 percent of criminal suspects had lawyers.
Mechanisms allowing defendants to confront their accusers were inadequate. Only a small percentage of trials involved witnesses, and fewer than 10 percent of subpoenaed witnesses appeared in court. The revised criminal procedure law, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013, contains a provision to compel witnesses to appear in court and includes protections for witnesses and financial allowances for performing the duties of a witness. In most criminal trials prosecutors read witness statements, which neither the defendants nor their lawyers have an opportunity to rebut. Although the law states that pretrial witness statements cannot serve as the sole basis for conviction, prosecutors relied heavily on such statements to support their cases. Defense attorneys had no authority to compel witnesses to testify or to mandate discovery, although they could apply for access to government-held evidence relevant to their case. Pretrial access to information by defense attorneys was minimal.
The criminal code contains 55 capital offenses, including nonviolent financial crimes such as embezzlement and corruption. There was no publicly available government information on how many defendants were either sentenced to death or executed during the year. Official figures on execution are classified as a state secret. An international human rights NGO estimated that approximately 4,000 persons were executed annually in recent years, a marked decrease in the years following the Supreme People’s Court retrieval of its authority to conduct final reviews of death sentences in 2007. Lethal injection and shooting were employed as execution methods.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
Government officials continued to deny holding any political prisoners, asserting that authorities detained persons not for their political or religious views but because they violated the law. However, authorities continued to imprison citizens for reasons related to politics and religion. Tens of thousands of political prisoners remained incarcerated, some in prisons and others in RTL camps or administrative detention. The government did not grant international humanitarian organizations access to political prisoners.
Foreign NGOs estimated that several hundred persons remained in prison for “counterrevolutionary crimes,” which were removed from the criminal code in 1997. Thousands of others were serving sentences under state security statutes. The government apparently has neither reviewed the cases of those charged before 1997 with counterrevolutionary crimes nor released persons jailed for nonviolent offenses under repealed provisions of the criminal law. The government maintained that prisoners serving sentences for counterrevolutionary crimes and endangering state security are eligible to apply for sentence reduction and parole. However, political prisoners were granted early release at lower rates than prisoners in other categories. Observers believed that persons remained in prison for crimes in connection with their involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen prodemocracy movement, although the number was unknown because related official statistics were never made public.
In 2010 activist Liu Xianbin, signatory of Charter ‘08 (a manifesto calling for human rights and democracy), was indicted for subversion for an article he wrote following his 2009 release from a previous prison term. In March 2011 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for inciting “subversion of state power.” Formally detained in 2010, Liu was charged for articles he wrote and posted on overseas Web sites, as well as for involvement with a Beijing seminar regarding three Fujian persons imprisoned for Internet postings. Liu was reportedly denied access to his lawyers during his detention.
In December 2011 two veteran human rights activists, Chen Xi in Guizhou and Chen Wei in Sichuan, were sentenced to 10 and nine years respectively on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” The sentencing was reportedly linked to their publication of prodemocracy writings that were deemed particularly sensitive in the aftermath of the Arab Spring when there were calls for “Jasmine”-like protests across China.
Chengdu dissident writer Ran Yunfei, detained in February 2011 on suspicion of “subversion,” was held without charges for nearly six months until being released into residential surveillance, a form of house arrest. Although he was not charged, his freedom of speech and association remained restricted.
Many political prisoners remained in prison or under other forms of detention at year’s end, including rights activist Wang Bingzhang; Ablikim Abdureyim, son of Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer; journalist Shi Tao; democratic reform advocate Wang Xiaoning; former Tiananmen Square student leader Zhou Yongjun; land rights activist Yang Chunlin; labor activists Hu Mingjun, Huang Xiangwei, Kong Youping, Ning Xianhua, Li Jianfeng, Li Xintao, Lin Shun’an, and She Wanbao; Sichuan rights activist Liu Xiaoyuan; Roman Catholic bishop Su Zhimin; Christian activist Zhang Rongliang; Uighur activist Dilkex Tilivaldi; and Tibetan Buddhist reincarnate lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was reportedly in poor health.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, coauthor of the Charter ‘08 manifesto that called for increased political freedoms and human rights, remained in Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province. Beijing-based human rights attorney Mo Shaoping, whose firm represented Liu, reported that Liu’s wife Liu Xia was allowed to travel from Beijing to Jinzhou to see him monthly. However, she remained under 24-hour surveillance, and police escorted her whenever she was allowed to leave her home.
Criminal punishments continued to include “deprivation of political rights” for a fixed period after release from prison, during which time the individual was denied rights of free speech, association, and publication. Former prisoners reported that their ability to find employment, travel, obtain residence permits, rent residences, and access social services was severely restricted. Former political prisoners and their families frequently were subjected to police surveillance, telephone wiretaps, searches, and other forms of harassment or threats.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
Courts deciding civil matters faced the same limitations on judicial independence as in criminal cases. The State Compensation Law provides administrative and judicial remedies for plaintiffs whose rights or interests government agencies or officials have infringed. In 2010 the NPC Standing Committee amended the law to allow compensation for wrongful detention, mental trauma, or physical injuries inflicted by detention center or prison officials. Citizens seldom applied for state compensation because of the high cost of bringing lawsuits, low credibility of courts, and citizens’ lack of awareness of the State Compensation Law. Victims’ claims were difficult to assess because of vague definitions in the law and difficulties in obtaining evidence of injury or damage. Judges were reluctant to accept state compensation cases, and government agencies seldom implemented court judgments in favor of plaintiffs.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law states that the “freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens are protected by law”; however, authorities often did not respect the privacy of citizens. Although the law requires warrants before law enforcement officials can search premises, this provision frequently was ignored. The Public Security Bureau and prosecutors are authorized to issue search warrants on their own authority without judicial review. Cases of forced entry by police officers continued to be reported.
Authorities monitored telephone conversations, fax transmissions, e‑mail, text messaging, and Internet communications and also opened and censored domestic and international mail. Security services routinely monitored and entered residences and offices to gain access to computers, telephones, and fax machines.
According to foreign media reports, the Ministry of Public Security used 10s of millions of surveillance cameras in the country, many installed in 2011. Authorities justified the expansion and upgrading of network security cameras as a way to improve public safety, crime fighting, traffic management, and “social stability.” Human rights groups stated authorities increasingly relied on the cameras to monitor and intimidate political dissidents, Tibetans, and Uighurs.
The monitoring and disruption of telephone and Internet communications were particularly widespread in the XUAR and Tibetan areas. Authorities frequently warned dissidents and activists, underground religious figures, and former political prisoners throughout the country not to meet with foreign journalists or diplomats, especially before sensitive anniversaries, at the time of important government or CCP meetings, and during the visits of high-level foreign officials. Security personnel harassed and detained the family members of political prisoners, including following them to meetings with foreign reporters and diplomats and urging them to remain silent about the cases of their relatives.
Family members of activists, dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners, journalists, unregistered religious figures, and former political prisoners were targeted for arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment (see section 1.d.).
Family members of Guizhou activists also reportedly experienced extreme pressure from authorities. Zhang Qunxuan and Chen Renjie, the wife and daughter of imprisoned Guizhou activist and Charter ‘08 signer Chen Xi, were placed under strict police surveillance beginning with the June anniversary of the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square, according to Human Rights in China.
Guangzhou security personnel continued to harass the wife of Guangzhou activist Tang Jingling. In December 2011 and January, police detained her along with Tang for more than 10 days in connection with protests in the Guangdong village of Wukan. During Tang’s June investigation of the death of Li Wangyang in Hunan, police came to their Guangzhou home and harassed her on a daily basis until Tang returned home.
Forced relocation because of urban development continued and in some locations increased during the year. Protests over relocation terms or compensation were common, and some protest leaders were prosecuted. In rural areas relocation for infrastructure and commercial development projects resulted in the forced relocation of millions of persons.
Property-related disputes between citizens and government authorities, which often turned violent, were widespread in both urban and rural areas. These disputes frequently stemmed from local officials’ collusion with property developers to pay little or no compensation to displaced residents, combined with a lack of effective government oversight or media scrutiny of local officials’ involvement in property transactions, as well as a lack of legal remedies or other dispute resolution mechanisms for displaced residents. The problem persisted despite the central government’s efforts to impose stronger controls over illegal land takings and to standardize compensation. The redevelopment in traditional Uighur neighborhoods in cities throughout the XUAR, such as the Old City area in Kashgar, resulted in the destruction of historically or culturally sensitive areas. Some residents voiced opposition to the lack of proper compensation provided by the government and coercive measures used to obtain their agreement to redevelopment.
For information on the government’s family planning policies and their consequences, see section 6, Women.
The Ministry of Public Security continued to report child abductions by child-trafficking gangs. In December the Ministry of Public Security reported that it had rescued 89 abducted children from nine trafficking rings, arresting 355 suspects in an operation across multiple provinces. Harsh penalties exist for traffickers. If the parents of trafficked children could not be found, the children were placed into orphanages (see section 6, Children, Trafficking).
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and press, although authorities generally did not respect these rights in practice. Authorities continued to control print, broadcast, and electronic media tightly and used them to propagate government views and CCP ideology. During the year authorities imposed censorship and manipulated the press and the Internet, particularly around sensitive anniversaries.
Freedom of Speech: With significant exceptions, including speech that challenged the government or the CCP, political topics could be discussed privately and in small groups without official punishment. Some independent think tanks, study groups, or seminars reported pressure to cancel some sessions on sensitive topics during the year. Those who made politically sensitive comments in public speeches, academic discussions, and comments to the media remained subject to punitive measures.
The government frequently monitored gatherings of intellectuals, scholars, and dissidents where political or sensitive issues were discussed. In March the Ministry of Justice announced that every new lawyer had to swear an oath of allegiance to the party. Individuals who expressed views critical of the government or the CCP, particularly those who shared such views with foreign audiences, risked punishments ranging from disciplinary action in the workplace to police interrogation and detention. In 2008 to commemorate International Human Rights Day, a group of 303 intellectuals and activists released a petition entitled Charter ‘08, calling for the CCP to respect human rights and implement democratic reforms. Many Charter ‘08 signers continued to report official harassment, especially around sensitive dates.
Cao Haibo, a manager of an Internet cafe in Yunnan Province and creator of an online group promoting democracy and constitutionalism, was tried in May and sentenced in October to eight years in prison for subversion of state power.
Also in May, Nanchang municipal officials in Jiangxi Province detained an Internet user for eight days on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” The accused had, among other things, distributed at Jiangxi University leaflets critical of Communist Party rule and promoting human rights.
In December a court in Hainan Province found environmental writer Liu Futang guilty of illegally profiting from self-published books that exposed environmental degradation caused by government-backed projects. Liu was sentenced to three years in prison with a full reprieve and fined 17,000 RMB ($2,730) under an agreement to avoid imprisonment. Authorities also shut down his blog on environmental problems.
In February 2011 Liang Haiyi made a speech in front of the Harbin Municipal Building calling for freedom, democracy, and equality. She was detained in the Harbin Number 2 Detention Center for “inciting subversion of state power.” At year’s end authorities had not made public the status of her case and her whereabouts. A posting by an Internet user in May indicated that Liang remained at Harbin Number 2 Detention Center awaiting sentencing.
Freedom of Press: All books and magazines require state-issued publication numbers, which were expensive and often difficult to obtain. Nearly all print media, broadcast media, and book publishers were affiliated with the CCP or a government agency. There were a small number of print publications with some private ownership interest but no privately owned television or radio stations. The CCP directed the domestic media to refrain from reporting on certain subjects, and all broadcast programming required government approval.
Violence and Harassment: Restrictions on foreign journalists by central and local CCP propaganda departments remained strict, especially during sensitive times and anniversaries. Foreign press outlets reported that local employees of foreign news agencies were also subject to official harassment and intimidation.
In May the authorities refused to renew a visa for a foreign national journalist working for the English-language arm of Al-Jazeera, resulting in her departure from the country. In commenting on the refusal, a foreign ministry spokesperson said that “foreign journalists must abide by the relevant laws and regulations” but did not indicate what rule the journalist might have violated.
In 2011, according to the Foreign Correspondents Club, 20 percent of the foreign respondents surveyed experienced visa threats or visa delays. Some reporters were explicitly told that issuance of their visa was related to the content of their reporting. Among the correspondents surveyed, 70 percent experienced interference or harassment during the year; 40 percent said their sources were harassed, detained, or called in for questioning for interacting with foreign journalists; and 33 percent said their Chinese assistants encountered pressure from officials or experienced harassment.
The government limited attendance at official government press briefings to domestic media; foreign media and diplomats were only allowed to attend briefings conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a handful of press briefings held around special events.
Authorities continued to enforce tight restrictions on citizens employed by foreign news organizations. The code of conduct for Chinese employees of foreign media organizations threatens dismissal and loss of accreditation for Chinese employees who engaged in “independent reporting” and instructed them to provide their employers information that projects a good image of the country.
Officials can be punished for unauthorized contact with journalists. Official guidelines for journalists were often vague, subject to change at the discretion of propaganda officials, and retroactively enforced. Propaganda authorities forced newspapers to fire editors and journalists responsible for articles deemed inconsistent with official policy, and suspended or closed publications. The system of postpublication review by propaganda officials encouraged self-censorship by editors seeking to avoid the losses associated with penalties for inadvertently printing unauthorized content.
Government officials used criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits, and other punishments, including violence, detention, and other forms of harassment, to intimidate authors and journalists and to prevent the dissemination of controversial writings. A domestic journalist can face demotion or job loss for publishing views that challenge the government.
Following the publication in August of a front-page article about Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang, the editor in chief, assistant editor in chief, and “news supervisors” of the Oriental Vanguard were dismissed under pressure from authorities. The report stated that the Chinese Olympic Team, China Central Television (CCTV), and Liu Xiang himself had all known beforehand that he might not be able to finish the preliminary heats of the Olympic Men’s 110-meter hurdles and that CCTV had prepared four alternative scripts accordingly.
Leading investigative reporters from a number of news outlets resigned under pressure or due to frustration with censorship. In July, Liu Jianfeng, who reported on the Wukan protests, left the Economic Observer. In September, Jian Guangzhou, an investigative journalist who previously reported on tainted milk, resigned from the Oriental Daily and announced that he was ending his reporting career.
In February local propaganda authorities in Hunan Province removed the editor in chief and two deputy editors in chief of the Biancheng Evening Newspaper after the newspaper published a report citing citizen dissatisfaction in Huaihua City with increased inflation and the lack of any official Lunar New Year celebration activities.
Journalists who remained in prison at year’s end included Shi Tao, Yang Tongyan, and Dhondup Wangchen. Uighur webmasters Dilshat Perhat, Nureli, and Nijat Azat continued to serve sentences for “endangering state security.” Uighur journalist Memetjan Abdulla was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 reportedly for transmitting “subversive” information related to the 2009 riots. During the year journalists working in traditional and new media were also imprisoned. In December the Prison Census of the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, of 32 known journalists imprisoned in the country, 12 were ethnic Tibetan, seven were ethnic Uighur, and one was ethnic Mongolian. The committee documented two new imprisonment cases during the year.
In November security officers detained Li Yuantong, a former journalist for the Bijie Daily in Guizhou Province, and his wife and forced them to leave Guizhou. Li had written an online report about five boys who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after taking shelter in a dumpster. Li was previously imprisoned in 2005 for two years for writing too many negative stories about Bijie and remained unemployed after his release.
In December unkown persons destroyed data and a number of electronic devices in the hotel rooms of reporters for Der Spiegel staying in Guiyang. The reporters had been following the story of the five boys who died of carbon monoxide poisoning and had met with Li Yuantong.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: Authorities continued to confiscate “unauthorized publications.” According to the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications, 45 million illegal publications were confiscated and more than 3.7 million pieces of online information involving pornography or other illegal content were deleted during the year.
Foreign journalists were denied permits to travel to the TAR, except for a very few highly controlled, government-organized press visits. Travel to Tibetan areas outside the TAR became increasingly difficult for foreign journalists, whom local officials often forced to leave. While foreign journalists were allowed access to Urumqi, XUAR, local and provincial authorities continued to control strictly the travel, access, and interviews of foreign journalists, even forcing them to leave cities in parts of the XUAR.
Media outlets received regular guidance from the Central Propaganda Department on topics that should not be covered.
Officials continued to censor, ban, and sanction reporting on labor, health, environmental crises, and industrial accidents. Following the July 2011 train crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, authorities issued instructions to keep the coverage upbeat and focused on the salvage and recovery efforts. Nonetheless, many domestic media outlets ignored the instructions and provided heavy coverage of the crash, its causes, and the authorities’ much-criticized response. The Ministry of Railroads contacted media outlets to prohibit them from visiting the scene of the accident and limited its contacts to state-controlled media organizations.
Following a flood that killed 77 persons in Beijing in July, the State Council Information Office issued instructions to media outlets and Internet companies to guide online discussions in light of increasing attacks on the Communist Party and the government by removing hostile and malicious messages while leaving general messages questioning the situation untouched.
In December the Central Propaganda Department ordered media outlets to adhere strictly to the information provided by authoritative departments when reporting on officials suspected of involvement in graft or bribery or related problems. The orders included instructions for media outlets not to investigate or report on their own.
At various times throughout the year, the Central Propaganda Department also advised media organizations not to publish reports or commentary on the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, the self-immolation of Tibetans, the house arrest and escape of Chen Guangcheng, and the Bo Xilai scandal.
As they did in response to May-June 2011 riots in the Guangdong cities of Chaozhou and Zengcheng, authorities deleted microblog postings and media reporting regarding June riots between the Sichuan migrant worker community and police in the Guangdong town of Shaxi.
Authorities continued to ban books with content they deemed controversial. The law permits only government-approved publishing houses to print books. The State Press and Publications Administration (PPA) controlled all licenses to publish. Newspapers, periodicals, books, audio and video recordings, or electronic publications may not be printed or distributed without the approval of the PPA and relevant provincial publishing authorities. Individuals who attempted to publish without government approval faced imprisonment, fines, confiscation of their books, and other sanctions. The CCP exerted control over the publishing industry by preemptively classifying certain topics as state secrets.
Many intellectuals and scholars exercised self-censorship, anticipating that books or papers on political topics would be deemed too sensitive to be published. The censorship process for private and government media also increasingly relied on self-censorship and, in a few cases, postpublication sanctions.
The General Administration of Press and Publication, the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, and the CCP remained active in issuing restrictive regulations and decisions constraining the content of broadcast media.
Authorities continued to jam, with varying degrees of success, Chinese-, Uighur-, and Tibetan-language broadcasts of the Voice of America (VOA), the BBC, and RFA. English-language broadcasts on VOA generally were not jammed. Internet distribution of streaming radio news and podcasts from these sources often was blocked. Despite the jamming of overseas broadcasts, VOA, the BBC, RFA, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France International had large audiences, including human rights advocates, ordinary citizens, and government officials.
Television broadcasts of foreign news, largely restricted to hotels and foreign residence compounds, were occasionally subject to censorship. Such censorship of foreign broadcasts also occurred around the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and during the 18th Party Congress. Individual issues of foreign newspapers and magazines were occasionally banned when they contained articles deemed too sensitive. Articles on Bloomberg.com and in the New York Times detailing the family wealth of Xi Jinping and Wen Jiabao, respectively, led to the blocking of the publications’ Web sites in China.
Politically sensitive coverage in Chinese, and to a lesser extent in English, were censored more than coverage in other languages. The government prohibited some foreign and domestic films deemed too sensitive or selectively censored parts of films before they were released.
In 2010 the Information Office of the State Council released its first White Paper on the Internet outlining the government’s endeavors to allow certain freedoms of speech on the Internet as long as the speech did not endanger state security, subvert state power, damage state honor and interests, jeopardize state religious policy, propagate heretical or superstitious ideas, or spread rumors and other content forbidden by laws and administrative regulations, among other caveats. The Internet was widely available and widely used; the International Telecommunication Union reported that 38 percent of individuals used the Internet and 31 percent of households had access to the Internet in 2011.
The CCP underscored the importance of maintaining security and promoting core socialist values on the Internet in its official decision adopted at the Sixth Plenum of the 17th CCP Congress in October 2011. The document called for developing a “healthy and uplifting network culture” that entail measures such as “step[ping] up guidance and management over social networks and instant messaging tools, standardiz[ing] the transmission order of information on the Internet, and foster[ing] a civilized and rational network environment.”
The CCP continued to increase efforts to monitor Internet use, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic Web sites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who ran afoul of political sensitivities. According to news sources, more than 14 government ministries participated in these efforts, resulting in the censorship of thousands of domestic and foreign Web sites, blogs, cell phone text messages, social networking services, online chat rooms, online games, and e‑mail. These measures were not universally effective. On top of its own extensive system of Internet censorship, the government imposed more responsibilities on Internet companies to implement online censorship and surveillance regimes, and it sought to prohibit anonymous expression online.
A State Council regulation deems personal blogs, computer bulletin boards, and cell phone text messages as part of the news media, which subjected these media to state restrictions on content. Internet service providers were instructed to use only domestic-media news postings, to record information useful for tracking users and their viewing habits, to install software capable of copying e‑mails, and to end immediately transmission of “subversive material.”
Under guidance from the CCP, the government employed thousands of persons at the national, provincial, and local levels to monitor electronic communications. Official monitoring focused on such tools as social networking, microblogging, and video-sharing sites. Internet companies also employed thousands of censors to implement CCP directives.
In July 2011 central government authorities ordered all public spaces offering free wireless Internet access to install costly software that would enable police to identify users of the service. Authorities warned Beijing cafe and restaurant owners they would face a fine of 20,000 RMB (approximately $3,210) if they offered wireless Internet access without installing the software. In December the NPC ratified a law requiring persons to give their real names when signing up for Internet, fixed telephone line, or mobile telephone services. Providers must also require persons’ names when allowing them to post information publicly.
Major news portals require users to register using their real names and identification numbers to comment on news articles. Individuals using the Internet in public libraries are required to register using their national identity card, and usage reportedly was monitored at all public library terminals.
The government consistently blocked access to Web sites it deemed controversial, especially those discussing Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, Tibetan independence, underground religious and spiritual organizations, democracy activists, and the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. The government also at times blocked access to selected sites operated by foreign governments, news outlets, health organizations, educational institutions, NGOs, and social networking sites, as well as to search engines that allow rapid communication or organization of users.
In June, following the publication of an expose on the financial affairs of Xi Jinping’s family, the government blocked access to Bloomberg.com. In October the government blocked access to the English and Chinese versions of The New York Times after it published an article on Wen Jiabao’s family fortunes. The Web sites remained blocked at year’s end.
Some Web sites included images of cartoon police officers that warn users to stay away from forbidden content. Operators of Web portals, blog-hosting services, and other content providers engaged in self-censorship to ensure their servers were free from politically sensitive content. Domestic Web sites that refused to self-censor political content were shut down, and many foreign Web sites were blocked. Millions of citizens had Twitter-like microblogs that circulated some news banned in the national media. The microblogs themselves were censored but often hours or days after the posting.
In July the State Internet Information Office and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued a circular requiring online video content providers to review videos before making them available online and holding them responsible for the online video content on their sites.
In March, in the wake of the removal of Bo Xilai on corruption charges, government authorities shut down 16 Web sites and detained six persons for “fabricating or disseminating online rumors.” Sina and Tencent’s microblogging sites’ commentary sections were disabled for three days in April.
Authorities employed an array of technical measures to block “sensitive” Web sites based in foreign countries. The ability of users to access such sensitive sites varied from city to city. The government also automatically censored e‑mail and Web chats based on an ever-changing list of sensitive key words, such as “Falun Gong,” “Dalai Lama,” and “Tibetan independence.” While such censorship was effective in keeping casual users away from sensitive content, it was defeated through the use of various technologies. Information on proxy servers outside China and software for defeating official censorship was readily available inside the country. However, the government increasingly blocked access to the Web sites and proxy servers of commercial virtual private network providers. Despite official monitoring and censorship, during the year dissidents and political activists continued to use the Internet to call attention to political causes such as prisoner advocacy, political reform, ethnic discrimination, and corruption. Web users spanning the political spectrum complained of censorship. Authorities sometimes blocked or closed the blogs of a number of prominent activists, artists, scholars, and university professors during the year.
There were numerous press reports of purported cyber attacks against foreign Web sites that carried information offensive to the government.
Authorities continued to jail numerous Internet writers for peaceful expression of political views.
On January 7, local police in Fujian Province’s Xiamen municipality detained an online activist for blogging about alleged corruption behind forced home evictions and demolitions in the city’s Jimei district. The blogger had previously refused to comply with authorities’ requests to remove claims of corruption from her blog.
On February 10, Zhu Yufu, a writer based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, received a sentence of seven years for “inciting subversion,” after a one-day trial on January 31. The court referred to a poem Zhu published online entitled “It’s Time,” and interviews Zhu gave in early 2011 that expressed views supporting political action. The Hangzhou City High People’s Court rejected Zhu’s appeal. Zhu previously served two other prison terms, including a seven-year sentence for “inciting subversion.”
In November authorities detained Zhai Xiaojun and seized his computer after he posted a comment suggesting that the next Final Destination movie would be about the Great Hall of the People collapsing on delegates to the 18th Party Congress. The government began investigating him for “spreading terrorist information,” a charge that can lead to a maximum five-year prison term.
The State Secrets Law obliges Internet companies to cooperate with investigations of suspected leakages of state secrets, stop the transmission of such information once discovered, and report the crime to authorities. Furthermore, the companies must comply with authorities’ orders to delete such information from their Web sites, and failure to do so is punishable by relevant departments such as the police and the Ministry of Public Security.
Regulations prohibit a broad range of activities that authorities interpret as subversive or slanderous to the state.
Following an April 9 police crackdown on approximately 1,400 farmers demonstrating against the sale of commonly owned farmland in Mudanjiang City in Heilongjiang Province, news of the protest was blocked in the print, Internet, and social media.
From May 10 to 12, Baidu Tieba’s online forums for Liaoning Province and Chongqing were reportedly shut down, and searches were redirected to a Web page citing maintenance to remove illegal information, occurrences that were consistent with Internet censorship.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
The government continued restrictions on academic and artistic freedom and political and social discourse at colleges, universities, and research institutes. Instructors generally were told not to raise certain sensitive topics in class, such as unrest in the Middle East or the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. The General Administration of Press and Publications, the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, and the Central Propaganda Department issued restrictive regulations and decisions that constrained the flow of ideas and people. Some academics self-censored their publications, faced pressure to reach predetermined research results, or were unable to hold conferences with international participants during politically sensitive periods.
Authorities on a few occasions blocked entry into the country of individuals deemed politically sensitive and declined to issue passports to Chinese citizens selected for international exchange programs who were considered politically unreliable, in particular ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs and individuals from other minority nationality areas.
A number of other foreign government-sponsored exchange selectees, particularly those from minority provinces, encountered difficulties gaining approval to travel to participate in their programs.
The government used political attitudes and affiliations as criteria for selecting persons for the few government-sponsored study abroad programs but did not impose such restrictions on privately sponsored students. The government and the party controlled the appointment of high-level officials at universities. While CCP membership was not always a requirement to obtain a tenured faculty position, scholars without CCP affiliation often had fewer chances for promotion.
Researchers, authors, and academics residing abroad reported they were subject to sanctions, including denial of visas, from authorities when their work did not meet with official approval. Thirteen foreign academics asserted that they were blacklisted and blocked from obtaining visas to travel to China due to their having contributed scholarly essays to a book on Xinjiang published in 2004. Other scholars claimed they continued to be blacklisted or face difficulties obtaining visas because of their politically sensitive work on China.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The law provides for freedom of peaceful assembly; however, the government severely restricted this right in practice. The law stipulates that such activities may not challenge “party leadership” or infringe upon the “interests of the state.” Protests against the political system or national leaders were prohibited. Authorities denied permits and quickly suppressed demonstrations involving expression of dissenting political views.
Citizens continued to gather publicly to protest evictions, relocations, and compensation in locations throughout the country, often resulting in conflict with authorities or other charges (see section 1.f.).
On July 1, hundreds of student demonstrators assembled in front of municipal buildings in Shifang, Sichuan Province, to protest plans to construct a copper smelting plant in the area. Over the next few days, thousands of banner-bearing demonstrators joined the protest. The official media reported that the protests turned violent with demonstrators overturning police vehicles and throwing bricks at government buildings. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd and detained 27 protesters. Videos and images circulated online showed protesters bloodied and beaten. On July 3, local authorities announced that the copper plant construction would be suspended and later that day released 21 of the 27 detainees.
In October thousands of protesters took to the streets in opposition to the expansion of a petrochemical plant in Ningbo and its production of paraxylene. During the three days of protests, police fired tear gas and detained more than 100 demonstrators. According to press reports, most of those arrested were subsequently released. Authorities subsequently agreed to halt the expansion of the plant.
In April a training event for 50 public-interest lawyers organized by Nanjing NGO Tianxiagong (Justice for All) was delayed at the last moment when the host hotel in Suzhou abruptly canceled the participants’ hotel rooms and conference room, saying the government had requisitioned them. Two backup venues also canceled their reservations. Attempts to secure other locations in Suzhou were unsuccessful. Eventually the public interest lawyers were forced to hold a shortened training event outdoors in a park in a nearby city.
All concerts, sports events, exercise classes, or other meetings of more than 200 persons require approval from public security authorities. Although peaceful protests are legal, in practice police rarely granted approval. Despite restrictions there were many demonstrations, but those with political or social themes were broken up quickly, sometimes with excessive force. The number of “mass incidents” and protests, including some violent protests, against local governments increased during the year, according to an international NGO. As in past years, the vast majority of demonstrations concerned land disputes; housing problems; industrial, environmental, and labor matters; government corruption; taxation; and other economic and social concerns. Others were provoked by accidents or related to personal petition, administrative litigation, and other legal processes.
During anti-Japanese protests over the Senkaku Islands in September, authorities selectively silenced participants who used the rallies to promote human rights problems. Police in Shenzhen took in for questioning on suspicion of disrupting social order protesters who displayed banners promoting democracy.
Disputes over land expropriation continued to trigger large-scale clashes between police and protesters. Examples of such clashes included: the December 2011 sweep of Xinxing Village in Liuzhou City, Guangxi Province, when approximately 3,000 armed police officers took 31 individuals into custody; the May 4 eviction of residents of Nanning’s Yongning District from their homes; the violent suppression in May of a protest against land expropriation by residents of Dongjinggong Village in Fujian Province’s Xianyou County; and a June clash between riot police and residents of Zuotan Village, Guangdong Province, over a development plan that allowed government officials to rezone and commercially rent out the villagers’ land.
The law protects an individual’s ability to petition the government; however, persons petitioning the government faced restrictions on their rights to assemble and raise grievances. Most petitions addressed grievances about land, housing, entitlements, the environment, or corruption. Most petitioners sought to present their complaints at national and provincial “letters and visits” offices.
Although banned by regulations, retaliation against petitioners reportedly continued. This was partly due to incentives the central government provided to local officials to prevent petitioners from raising complaints to higher levels. Incentives included provincial cadre evaluations based in part on the number of petitions from their provinces. This initiative aimed to encourage local and provincial officials to resolve legitimate complaints but also resulted in local officials sending security personnel to Beijing and forcibly returning the petitioners to their home provinces to prevent them from filing complaints against local officials with the central government. Such detentions often went unrecorded. Rules issued by the General Office of the State Council mandate sending officials from Beijing to the provinces to resolve petition problems locally, thereby reducing the number of petitioners entering Beijing; the rules also mandate a 60-day response time for petitions and provide for a single appeal in each case.
Petitioners from outside of Beijing faced harassment, illegal detention, and even more severe forms of punishment when attempting to travel to Beijing to present their grievances. In August, as part of a larger-scale crackdown on petitioners in the period leading to the 18th Party Congress, Yunnan’s Xuanwei City reportedly detained 40 would-be petitioners and sent some to psychiatric hospitals. Yunnan petitioner Cai Huaxian reportedly was sentenced to one year of RTL.
On February 27, authorities prevented seven residents of Fujian Province from distributing leaflets exposing alleged judicial corruption in Sanming City, Fujian, in front of a foreign embassy. Police forcibly returned four of the protesters to their hometowns in Fujian, where they were placed in administrative detention.
Freedom of Association
The law provides for freedom of association, but the government restricted this right in practice. CCP policy and government regulations require that all professional, social, and economic organizations officially register with, and receive approval from the government. In practice these regulations prevented the formation of truly autonomous political, human rights, religious, spiritual, labor, and other organizations that the government believed might challenge its authority.
The government maintained tight controls over civil society organizations.
According to regulations issued by the State Administration for Foreign Exchange, foreign exchange donations to or by domestic institutions must “comply with the laws and regulations…and shall not go against social morality or damage public interests and the legitimate rights and interests of other citizens.” For donations between a domestic organization and a foreign NGO, the regulations require all parties and the banks to approve additional measures prior to a transaction being processed. Application of the regulation was varied, with some NGOs successfully navigating the requirements, others identifying other options by which to receive funds, and some severely limiting or shutting down operations.
To register, an NGO must find a government agency to serve as its organizational sponsor, have a registered office, and hold a minimum amount of funds. Some organizations with social or educational purposes that previously registered as private or for-profit businesses reportedly were requested to find a government sponsor and reregister as NGOs during the year. Finding a government sponsor could be very difficult, since the government department would not want to take the risk if the NGO were to engage in sensitive behavior.
Throughout the year Guangdong provincial government officials initiated proposals aimed at facilitating the operations and work of nonlabor NGOs, including, for example, simplifying registration procedures so that certain categories of NGOs could register directly with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Implementation of regulations associated with these proposals was inconsistent. Although some NGOs enjoyed increased opportunities, others continued to face traditional interference from authorities. Meanwhile, labor NGOs in Shenzhen experienced even harsher treatment from local authorities, who shut down at least seven labor NGOs that focused on the rights of migrant workers. After these NGOs refused to vacate their offices, authorities cut off their water and power.
In July 2011 the Ministry of Civil Affairs submitted a new version of the registration regulation to the State Council proposing to allow charity and social organizations to register directly with the ministry without need for an organizational sponsor. In addition to Guangdong Province, several cities, including Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing, tested the policy in 2011. In other provinces NGOs faced increased scrutiny, which made registration with the government extremely difficult.
According to Ma Hong, Shenzhen Bureau of Civil Affairs director of the NGO management department, nearly 61 NGOs in Shenzhen registered directly in the first half of the year. It appeared the regulation did not apply to all sectors and was not applied to NGOs working on potentially politically sensitive problems.
Although registered organizations all came under some degree of government control, some NGOs were able to operate with a greater degree of independence.
The number of NGOs continued to grow, despite the restrictions and regulations. The government uses the term “social organization” to categorize social groups (shehui tuanti), such as trade and professional associations; civil noncommercial units (minban fei qiye danwei), which are the equivalent of nonprofit service providers; and foundations (jijinhui). The last category included two types of foundations: public fundraising and private fundraising foundations. The government continued to impose fundraising limits on private foundations.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as of the end of 2011, the country had approximately 462,000 legally registered social organizations, including 255,000 social groups, 204,000 civil noncommercial units, and 2,614 foundations. During the year an official of the Ministry of Civil Affairs wrote, “in 2007 China started to use the term ‘social organization’ instead of ‘civil organization’ because ‘civil’ contrasts with ‘official’ and reflected the opposing roles of civil society and government in the traditional political order. The 16th and 17th CCP Congresses changed the name to ‘social organization.’ NGOs existed under a variety of formal and informal guises, including national mass organizations created and funded by the CCP, known as ‘government NGOs.’”
The lack of legal registration created numerous logistical challenges for NGOs, including difficulty opening bank accounts and receiving foreign funding, hiring workers, fundraising, and renting office space. NGOs that opted not to partner with government agencies could register as commercial consulting companies, which allowed them to obtain legal recognition at the cost of forgoing tax-free status. Security authorities routinely warned domestic NGOs, regardless of their registration status, not to accept donations from the foreign-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other international organizations deemed sensitive by the government. Authorities supported the growth of some NGOs that focused on social problems, such as poverty alleviation and disaster relief, but remained concerned that these organizations might emerge as a source of political opposition. NGOs working in the TAR and other Tibetan areas faced an increasingly difficult operating environment, and many were forced to curtail their activities altogether due to travel restrictions, official intimidation of staff members, and the failure of local partners to renew project agreements.
No laws or regulations specifically govern the formation of political parties. However, the CDP remained banned, and the government continued to monitor, detain, and imprison current and former CDP members.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation; however, the government generally did not respect these rights in practice. While seriously restricting its scope of operations, the government occasionally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which maintained an office in Beijing, to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern.
In-country Movement: Authorities heightened restrictions on freedom of movement, particularly to curtail the movement of individuals deemed politically sensitive, before key anniversaries, visits by foreign dignitaries, or major political events and to forestall demonstrations. Freedom of movement continued to be very limited in the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Police maintained checkpoints in most counties and on roads leading into many towns, as well as within major cities such as Lhasa. After two Tibetans from other provinces self-immolated in front of a Lhasa monastery on May 27, the TAR expelled an unknown number of Tibetans originally from other provinces who had been living in the TAR, including some who held TAR residence cards. Tibetans from other provinces reported being subject to onerous documentation requirements in order to enter the TAR, and Tibetans who were not residents of Lhasa were required to obtain permission to enter the city and were often forced to stay in specially designated accommodations, requirements not imposed on Han Chinese visitors to the TAR.
Prominent Tibetan poet and blogger Woeser, a Beijing resident, was required to leave Beijing and return to Lhasa for three months before and during the 18th Party Congress in Beijing. Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti was also required to leave Beijing during the Party Congress.
Although the government maintained restrictions on the freedom to change one’s workplace or residence, the national household registration system (hukou) continued to change, and the ability of most citizens to move within the country to work and live continued to expand. Rural residents continued to migrate to the cities, where the per capita disposable income was more than four times the rural per capita income, but many could not officially change their residence or workplace within the country. Most cities had annual quotas for the number of new temporary residence permits that could be issued, and all workers, including university graduates, had to compete for a limited number of such permits. It was particularly difficult for rural residents to obtain household registration in more-economically developed urban areas.
The household registration system added to the difficulties rural residents faced even after they relocated to urban areas and found employment. According to the 2011 Statistical Communique of the People’s Republic of China on 2011 National Economic and Social Development published in February by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, in 2011, 252.78 million rural residents worked in nonagricultural jobs, of whom 158.63 million worked outside of their home district. Many migrant workers and their families faced numerous obstacles with regard to working conditions and labor rights. Many were unable to access public services, such as public education or social insurance, in the cities where they lived and worked because they were not legally registered urban residents. Poor treatment and difficulty integrating into local communities contributed to increased social unrest among migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta. Migrant workers had little recourse when abused by employers and officials. Some major cities maintained programs to provide migrant workers and their children access to public education and other social services free of charge, but migrants in some locations reported difficulty in obtaining these benefits due to the onerous bureaucratic processes involved in obtaining access to urban services.
Under the “staying at prison employment” system applicable to recidivists incarcerated in RTL camps, authorities denied certain persons permission to return to their homes after serving their sentences. Some released or paroled prisoners returned home but were not permitted freedom of movement.
Foreign Travel: The government permitted legal emigration and foreign travel for most citizens. Some academics and activists continued to face travel restrictions, especially around sensitive anniversaries (see section 1.e.). The government exercised exit control for departing passengers at airports and other border crossings and utilized this exit control to deny foreign travel to dissidents and persons employed in sensitive government posts. Throughout the year lawyers, artists, authors, and other activists were at times prevented from freely exiting the country. Border officials and police cited threats to “national security” as the reason for refusing permission to leave the country. Authorities stopped most persons at the airport at the time of the attempted travel. Well known artist Ai Weiwei was denied a passport to attend an exhibition of his work in the United States in October. Some foreign travel restrictions on certain dissidents were relaxed. A Charter ‘08 signatory from Hangzhou, who had not been allowed to leave the country for several years, was permitted to attend an academic conference abroad in May.
Most citizens could obtain passports, although those whom the government deemed potential threats, including religious leaders, political dissidents, petitioners, and ethnic minorities, reported routinely being refused passports or otherwise prevented from traveling overseas.
Ethnic Uighurs, particularly those residing in the XUAR, reported that it was very difficult to get a passport application approved at the local level. They were frequently denied passports to travel abroad, particularly to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, other Muslim countries, or Western countries for academic or other purposes. Authorities reportedly seized valid passports of some residents of the XUAR and other citizens.
In the TAR and Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces, ethnic Tibetans experienced great difficulty acquiring passports. The unwillingness of Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas to issue or renew passports for ethnic Tibetans created, in effect, a ban on foreign travel for a large segment of the Tibetan population. Han residents of Tibetan areas did not experience the same difficulties.
Exile: The law neither provides for a citizen’s right to repatriate nor addresses exile. The government continued to refuse reentry to numerous citizens who were considered dissidents, Falun Gong activists, or “troublemakers.” Although some dissidents living abroad were allowed to return, dissidents released on medical parole and allowed to leave the country often were effectively exiled. Some activists residing abroad were imprisoned upon their return to the country. Authorities reportedly detained and deported to Nepal some ethnic Tibetans with Chinese citizenship who had attempted to reenter China after visiting India by way of Nepal.
Emigration and Repatriation: The government continued to try to prevent many Tibetans and Uighurs from leaving the country and detained many who were apprehended in flight (see Tibet Addendum). During the year 241 Tibetans transited the UNHCR reception center in Kathmandu. There also were reports of the forcible return of Uighur asylum seekers from Malaysia. Of a group of 20 Uighurs returned from Cambodia in 2009, three persons, a woman and two children, were reportedly freed, and 16 others received prison sentences in September 2011 ranging from 16 years to life. Chinese authorities continued to refuse to provide information regarding the whereabouts of the remaining individual.
Protection of Refugees
Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of refugee or asylee status, and the government did not establish a system for providing protection to refugees. Although the government does not grant refugee or asylee status, it allowed the UNHCR more latitude in assisting non-North Korean and non-Burmese refugees. The UNHCR office in Beijing recognized approximately 100 refugees in China from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Eritrea and was processing approximately 100 additional individuals who requested refugee status. However, because the PRC did not officially recognize these individuals as refugees, they remained in the country as illegal immigrants unable to work, with no access to education, and subject to deportaton by the government at any time.
Refoulement: In practice the government did not provide protection against the expulsion or forcible return of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, especially North Korean and Kachin refugees, to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The government continued to consider all North Koreans “economic migrants” rather than refugees or asylum seekers, and the UNHCR continued to have no access to North Korean or Burmese refugees inside China. The lack of access to durable solutions and options, as well as constant fear of forced repatriation by authorities, left North Korean refugees vulnerable to human traffickers. Reports of various exploitation schemes targeting North Korean refugees, such as forced marriages, labor, and prostitution, were common. The government continued to deny the UNHCR permission to operate along its borders with North Korea and Burma.
Some North Koreans who entered diplomatic compounds in the country were permitted to travel to foreign countries after waiting for periods of up to two years.
From March 8-10, authorities returned to North Korea 31 North Korean defectors who were arrested in Shenyang. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said they were not refugees, but illegal immigrants with economic motives.
In August authorities pressured the Kachin Independence Organization, the political arm of the Kachin Independence Army, to accept the repatriation of thousands of Burmese refugees from Yunnan and then dismantled the makeshift camps where they had been living. These refugees, the majority of whom were ethnic Kachin, had sought shelter in several camps along the Yunnan border area following the resumption of hostilities between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army in neighboring Kachin and Northern Shan States in June 2011. Authorities refused international aid organizations access to the refugees.
Refugee Abuse: The intensified crackdown begun in 2008 against North Korean refugees reportedly extended to harassment of religious communities along the border. The government arrested and detained individuals who provided food, shelter, transportation, and other assistance to North Koreans. According to reports some activists or brokers detained for assisting North Koreans were charged with human smuggling, and in some cases the North Koreans were forcibly returned to North Korea. There were also reports that North Korean agents operated clandestinely within the country to repatriate North Korean citizens forcibly.
Access to Basic Services: Undocumented children of some North Korean asylum seekers and of mixed couples (i.e., one Chinese parent and one North Korean parent) did not have access to health care, public education, or other social services due to lack of legal status.
Durable Solutions: The government largely cooperated with the UNHCR when dealing with the resettlement of ethnic Han Chinese or ethnic minorities from Vietnam and Laos residing in the country since the Vietnam War era. During the year the government and the UNHCR continued discussions concerning the granting of citizenship to these long-term residents and their children, many of whom were born in China.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The constitution states that “all power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people” and that the organs through which the people exercise state power are the NPC and the people’s congresses at provincial, district, and local levels. While the law provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, citizens cannot freely choose or change the laws or officials that govern them. In practice the CCP controls virtually all elections. The CCP continued to control appointments to positions of political power.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: The NPC, composed of up to 3,000 deputies, elects the president and vice president, the premier and vice premiers, and the chairman of the State Central Military Commission. In practice the NPC Standing Committee, which consisted of 175 members, oversaw these elections and determined the agenda and procedure for the NPC.
The NPC Standing Committee remained under the direct authority of the CCP, and most legislative decisions require the concurrence of the CCP’s seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. Despite its broad authority under the state constitution, the NPC does not set policy independently or remove political leaders without the CCP’s approval.
According to Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics, almost all of the country’s more than 600,000 villages had implemented direct elections for members of local subgovernment organizations known as village committees. The direct election of officials by ordinary citizens remained narrow in scope and strictly confined to the local level. The government estimated that serious procedural flaws marred one-third of all elections. Corruption, vote buying, and interference by township-level and CCP officials continued to be problems. The law permits each voter to cast proxy votes for up to three other voters.
The election law governs legislative bodies at all levels, although compliance and enforcement of the election law were uneven across the country. Under this law citizens have the opportunity to vote for local people’s congress representatives at the county level and below every five years, although in most cases higher-level government officials or CCP cadres controlled the nomination of candidates in those elections. At higher levels legislators selected people’s congress delegates from among their ranks. For example, provincial-level people’s congresses selected delegates to the NPC. Local CCP secretaries generally served concurrently within the leadership team of the local people’s congress, thus strengthening CCP control over legislatures.
During the year the local governments kept independent candidates–those without official government backing–off the ballots despite meeting nomination criteria. No declared independent candidates won election by year’s end. Election officials pressured independent candidates to renounce their candidacies, manipulated the ballot to exclude independent candidates, refused to disclose electorate information to independent candidates, and sometimes adjusted electoral districts to dilute voter support for independent candidates.
Chengdu authorities harassed many independent candidates who attempted to run for local people’s congress elections in February. On February 8, security officers beat Gan Xingyan as she attempted to register her candidacy in Chengdu’s rural Shuangliu County. Local police reportedly refused to investigate her case.
In other areas of Chengdu, serious violations were reported throughout the election process. Independent candidates were denied nomination forms, or the deadline for turning in nominations was suddenly changed. Several candidates withdrew after authorities threatened individuals who had signed their petitions.
In April an independent People’s Congress candidate from Foshan City, Guangdong Province who was detained in September 2011 on a charge of undermining elections, was released on bail and taken to a hospital for medical treatment. The candidate had been tried in February but no verdict was announced and four bail applications were not approved.
After violent December 2011 protests, in March residents in Guangdong Province’s Wukan Village carried out village-level elections that were transparent and free of government manipulation. An election board selected by village residents oversaw the selection of candidates, and the counting of ballots was publicly conducted in the presence of foreign media.
Political Parties: Official statements asserted that “the political party system [that] China has adopted is multiparty cooperation and political consultation under” CCP leadership. However, the CCP retained a monopoly on political power, and the government forbade the creation of new political parties. The government officially recognized nine parties founded prior to 1949, and parties other than the CCP held 30 percent of NPC seats. The establishment of new parties is functionally prohibited, and activists attempting to support unofficial parties were arrested, detained, or confined.
During the year authorities took measures to restrict the participation of independent candidates.
In 2009 in Hunan Province, dissident Xie Changfa, who tried to organize a national meeting of the banned CDP, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Guo Quan, a former Nanjing University professor and founder of the China New Democracy Party, remained imprisoned following his 2009 sentence to 10 years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights for “subversion of state power.” Guo published articles criticizing the country’s one-party system. Other current or former CDP members, including Yang Tianshui, remained in prison or in RTL camps for their calls for political reform and their affiliation with the CDP.
Participation of Women and Minorities: The government placed no special restrictions on the participation of women or minority groups in the political process. However, women held few positions of significant influence in the CCP or government structure. Among the 2,987 delegates of the 11th NPC (term 2008-13), 637 were women (21 percent).
Four women were in ministerial or higher ranked positions: State Councilor Liu Yandong, Minister of Supervision Ma Wen, Minister of Justice Wu Aiying, and Head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission Wang Xia. According to government-provided information, there were more than 230 female provincial and ministerial officials, 10 percent of the overall total; 670 female mayors and vice mayors, twice the number in 1995; one party secretary at the provincial level, Sun Chunlan in Fujian Province; and one provincial governor, Li Bin in Anhui Province. A total of 37 women were members of provincial standing committees, constituting 9 percent of standing committee members. Following the 18th Party Congress in November, there were two female members of the CCP’s 25-member Politburo, Liu Yandong, who concurrently served as a state councilor, and Sun Chunlan, who was Tianjin party secretary. There were no women in the Standing Committee of the Politburo. There were approximately 15 million female CCP cadres, approximately one-fifth of the CCP membership.
The government encouraged women to exercise their right to vote in village committee elections and to run in those elections, although only a small fraction of elected members were women. In many locations a seat on the village committee was reserved for a woman, who was usually given responsibility for family planning. The election law provides a general mandate for quotas for female and ethnic minority representatives; however, achieving these quotas often required election authorities to violate the election procedures specified in the election law. During the 2011-12 local people’s congresses elections, many electoral districts in which independent candidates campaigned used these quotas as justification to thwart the candidacies of these independent candidates.
A total of 411 delegates from 55 ethnic minorities were members of 11th NPC, accounting for 14 percent of the total number of delegates. All of the country’s officially recognized minority groups were represented.
The 18th Communist Party Congress elected 10 members of ethnic minority groups as members on the Central Committee.
The only ministerial-level post held by an ethnic minority member was in the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, headed by Yang Jing, an ethnic Mongol from Inner Mongolia. Until November, Hui Liangyu, of the Hui ethnic group, was a member of the Politburo. Minorities held few senior CCP or government positions of significant influence.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Many cases of corruption involved areas heavily regulated by the government and therefore susceptible to fraud, bribery, and kickbacks, such as land usage rights, real estate, and infrastructure development.
Court judgments often could not be enforced against powerful special entities, including government departments, state-owned enterprises, military personnel, and some members of the CCP.
In its 2011 annual work report, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate reported that procuratorates nationwide had investigated 32,567 work-related cases involving 44,506 suspects. Of the crimes, 18,464 involved bribery and major embezzlement. Among them, 2,524 suspects were officials at the county level or above, 198 were officials at the prefectural level, and seven officials were at the provincial and ministerial levels.
In 2011 the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the CCP’s lead body for countering corruption among members, investigated 137,859 corruption-related cases. A total of 142,893 persons were disciplined. Of this total, 118,006 persons were subject to party disciplinary action while 35,934 were subject to government discipline. In September, He Guoqiang, then head of the CCP’s CCDI, visited major antigraft newspapers and magazines and encouraged editorial staff to make greater contributions to anticorruption public education. He Guoqiang described antigraft public education as fundamental work in the CCP’s endeavor to build a clean government.
In October the government established a “frugal working style” rule barring government officials from spending public money on luxury items such as lavish banquets and luxury cars and from accepting expensive gifts.
A 2010 regulation requires officials in government agencies or state-owned enterprises at the county level or above to report their ownership of property, including property in their spouses’ or children’s names, as well as their families’ investment in financial assets and enterprises. According to article 23 of the regulations, the monitoring bodies are the CCDI, the Organization Department of the CCP, and the Ministry of Supervision. The regulations do not state that declarations are to be made public but rather go to a higher level and a human resource department. Punishments for not declaring information vary from education on the regulations, warning talks, and adjusting one’s work position, to being relieved from one’s position. Regulations further state that officials should report all of their income, including various kinds of allowances, subsidies, bonuses, as well as income from other jobs, such as giving lectures, writing, consulting, reviewing articles, painting and calligraphy, etc. They, their spouse, and children who live together with them also should report their real estate properties, and financial investments, such as stocks, funds, insurances, and other financial products. The spouse and children who live with the government officials should also report their investments in listed companies and enterprises and their registered private commercial units, enterprises, or partnership business. Government officials should report their marriage status, records of traveling aboard for personal purposes, marriage status of their children, and if the spouses are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or a foreign country. In addition they must report whether their children live abroad, their children’s work status, and their grandchildren’s work status and positions (including those who live abroad). Officials should report changes of personal status within 30 days after such changes occur. Officials are also required to report every year.
In December officials announced that Guangdong Province would pilot a program in select districts requiring all CCP and government officials publicly to report their assets. Officials who refused to disclose their assets or misrepresented their assets would be relieved of their posts and subjected to further investigations.
In February the NPC’s Standing Committee amended the criminal law to make citizens and companies paying bribes to foreign government officials and officials of international public organizations subject to criminal punishments of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
In an April magazine article, Premier Wen Jiabao said that corruption was the biggest threat facing the CCP. The article outlined steps the government took to fight corruption. Wen also stated that corruption still thrived in the system and that corruption among leading officials was still prominent. On October 25, the New York Times published an article reporting that Wen’s family collectively had accumulated a fortune of almost 17 billion RMB ($2.7 billion). Wen reportedly asked for an investigation of the report.
During the year the Supreme People’s Court urged local courts to ban family members of officials and judges from being lawyers under the local court’s jurisdiction. The Higher People’s Court of Chongqing Municipality announced a regulation forbidding judges’ family members from accepting money from lawyers. The Higher People’s Court of Fujian Province also announced a regulation to forbid judges from meeting privately with representatives in a case.
In numerous cases during the year public officials and leaders of state-owned enterprises, who generally also hold high CCP ranks, were investigated for corruption.
In February the Jilin Province Procuratorate detained Lu Xiangdong, vice president and executive director of the state-owned China Mobile company, on suspicion of corruption. He resigned from his positions in March and was helping “judicial authorities in the investigation of suspected financial-related issues,” according to China Mobile.
In July former Jilin vice governor Tian Xueren was reported to have been stripped of both his party membership and government position for taking bribes. Tian’s case was transferred to the criminal justice system.
Also in July, Liu Zhuozhi, former government head and CCP chief of Xilingol League in western Inner Mongolia, was sentenced to life imprisonment for taking more than 8.17 million RMB ($1.3 million) in bribes.
In May the Politburo of the CCP Central Committe expelled former railroads minister Liu Zhijun from the CCP after the CCDI confirmed Liu’s involvement in corruption. Liu had been under investigation since February 2011, when he was removed from his government post. Following the 2011 high-speed train accident in Wenzhou, Liu came under scrutiny for his mismanagement of the country’s high-speed train network.
In December the CCDI removed Li Chuncheng from his position as deputy party secretary of Sichuan Province for suspected “serious discipline violations.” Li was also an alternate member of the CCP’s Central Committee. Allegations of Li’s corrupt practices, which were widely reported, included receiving bribes, nepotism, and approving land sales to family at below-market rates. Li Chuncheng became the first senior party official dismissed by the CCDI following the 18th Party Congress and Xi Jinping’s public comments highlighting the need to fight corruption.
During the year the term “naked official” was banned from the country’s version of Twitter. The term refers to government officials who remain in China to work but send their family and financial assets abroad.
In June the Supreme People’s Procuratorate stated it would strengthen measures to recover and freeze illegal assets transferred abroad by corrupt officials.
Corruption scandals linked to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake continued to emerge. In May the Hong Kong media reported that Shehong County obtained more than 100 million RMB ($16 million) in central government relief funds by exaggerating the destruction caused by the earthquake. Villagers who attempted to expose the corrupt practices faced official retribution and in some cases imprisonment.
In February the Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced the availability of a national bribery database listing individuals and companies found guilty of certain bribery offenses, including bribing an individual, bribing an entity, and facilitating bribery. Companies and individuals must apply in writing to have the procuratorate check nationwide to determine whether a particular individual or company has been convicted of bribery offenses in the PRC. Companies must provide a copy of their business license.
In February, Guangdong Province initiated an anticorruption campaign to crack down on commercial bribes, the production and selling of counterfeit goods, and the control of markets by triads (organized criminal gangs), leading to the arrests and detentions of more than one thousand provincial, city, and county government officials. The campaign, which covered a wide range of sectors, targeted activities such as illegal monopolies, forced transactions, the collection of protection fees, market intervention by bribed government officials, and the production and distribution of counterfeit goods, including fake drugs and food. Government officials implicated in corruption primarily were at section chief or director ranks (although at least six were at the director general or deputy director general level) and covered zoning, infrastructure construction, distribution, and medical care portfolios where officials can either spend government funds or collect money from the public.
Open government information regulations allow citizens to request information from the government. The regulations require government authorities to create formal channels for information requests and include an appeal process if requests are rejected or not answered. They stipulate that administrative agencies should reply to requests on the spot to the extent possible. Otherwise, the administrative agency should provide the information within 15 working days, with the possibility of a maximum extension of an additional 15 days. In cases in which third-party rights and interests are involved, the time needed to consult the third party does not count against the time limits. According to the regulations, administrative agencies may collect only cost-based fees (as determined by the State Council) for searching, photocopying, postage, and similar expenses when disclosing government information on request. Citizens requesting information can also apply for a fee reduction or exemption. The regulations include exceptions for state secrets, commercial secrets, and individual privacy.
Publicly released provincial- and national-level statistics for open government information requests showed wide disparities in numbers of requests filed and official documents released in response.
If information requestors believe that an administrative agency has violated the regulations, they can report it to the next higher-level administrative agency, the supervision agency, or the department in charge of open government information. In August 2011 the Supreme People’s Court ruled that citizens could sue any government department that refused to provide unclassified information. In September 2011 a Tsinghua University graduate student sued three government ministries after her requests for information regarding the duties of 14 ministries for use in her thesis were denied. A court delayed consideration of her case pending further research, and she withdrew her lawsuit in October 2011 after the ministries provided the requested information.
In January, Wang Chen, a senior propaganda department official, stated that in an effort to be more transparent, the government would expand the use of spokespersons and employ social media.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The government sought to maintain control over civil society groups, halt the emergence of independent NGOs, hinder the activities of civil society and rights’ activist groups, and prevent what it called the “Westernization” of the country. The government did not permit independent domestic NGOs to monitor openly or to comment on human rights conditions, and harassed domestic NGOs. The government tended to be suspicious of independent organizations, and it increased scrutiny of NGOs with financial and other links overseas. Most large NGOs were quasi-governmental, and all official NGOs had to be sponsored by government agencies, although the government introduced new registration procedures in Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing during the year that removed the requirement that NGOs must have a government sponsoring agency to register (see section 2.b.).
An informal network of activists around the country continued to serve as a credible source of information about human rights violations. The information was disseminated through organizations such as the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the foreign-based Human Rights in China, and Chinese Human Rights Defenders; and via the Internet.
The government remained reluctant to accept criticism of its human rights record by other nations or international organizations. It criticized reports by international human rights monitoring groups, claiming that such reports were inaccurate and interfered with the country’s internal affairs. Representatives of some international human rights organizations reported that authorities denied their visa requests or restricted the length of visas issued to them. The government continued to participate in official diplomatic human rights dialogues with foreign governments.
Government Human Rights Bodies: The government did not have a human rights ombudsman or commission. The government-established China Society for Human Rights is an NGO whose mandate is to defend the government’s human rights record. The government maintained that each country’s economic, social, cultural, and historical conditions influenced its approach to human rights.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
There were laws designed to protect women, children, persons with disabilities, and minorities. However, some discrimination based on ethnicity, sex, disability, and other factors persisted.
Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal, and some persons convicted of rape were executed. The penalties for rape can range from three years in prison to a death sentence with a two-year reprieve and forced labor. The law does not address spousal rape. The government has not made available official statistics on rape or sexual assault, leaving the scale of sexual violence difficult to determine. Migrant female workers were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.
Violence against women remained a significant problem. According to reports at least a quarter of families suffered from domestic violence, and more than 85 percent of the victims were women. Domestic violence against women included verbal and psychological abuse, restrictions on personal freedom, economic control, physical violence, and rape. The government supported shelters for victims of domestic violence, and some courts were beginning to provide protections to victims. For example, on February 22, a district court in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, issued a restraining order prohibiting a perpetrator of domestic violence from going within 300 feet of his victim, the first case of its kind in the country. In March, Shaanxi Province designated the Number Two People’s Hospital as an antidomestic-violence service station to treat victims of domestic violence, the first designation of its kind. However, official assistance did not always reach victims, and public security forces often ignored domestic violence. In 2010 the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF) reported that it received 50,000 domestic violence complaints annually. Spousal abuse typically went unreported; an ACWF study found that only 7 percent of rural women who suffered domestic violence sought help from police. Almost 30 percent of respondents in a recent study felt that domestic violence should be kept a private matter.
While domestic violence tended to be more prevalent in rural areas, it also occurred among the highly educated urban population. The ACWF reported that approximately one-quarter of the 400,000 divorces registered each year were the result of family violence.
According to ACWF statistics, nationwide in 2008 there were 12,000 special police booths for domestic violence complaints, 400 shelters for victims of domestic violence, and 350 examination centers for women claiming to injuries by domestic violence. Many domestic violence shelters had inadequate facilities, required extensive documentation, or were generally unused. The government operated most shelters, some with NGO participation. During the year the government provided 680,000 office spaces in government buildings for women’s resource centers.
There was no strong legal mechanism to protect women from domestic abuse. According to the ACWF, laws related to domestic violence were not specific enough to prevent domestic violence, since there was no national provision for dealing with offenders. During the year the creation of such mechanisms was added to the NPC’s legislative agenda, the fifth time the ACWF submitted such a proposal. Both the marriage law and the law on the protection of women’s rights and interests have stipulations that directly prohibit domestic violence; however, some experts complained that the stipulations are too general, fail to define domestic violence, and are difficult to implement. Because of standards of evidence, even if certain that domestic violence was occurring, a judge could not rule against the abuser without the abuser’s confession. Only 10 percent of accused abusers confessed to violent behavior in the family, according to 2009 data from the Institute of Applied Laws. The institute reported that 40 to 60 percent of marriage and family cases involved domestic violence; however, less than 30 percent were able to supply indirect evidence, including photographs, hospital records, police records, or children’s testimony. Witnesses seldom testified in court.
Public support increased in the fight against domestic violence. A recent survey found that more than 85 percent of respondents believed that further antidomestic violence legislation was needed. A high-profile case, Kim Lee’s case against her celebrity husband, Li Yang, led to public outcry when she posted pictures of her injuries on a social networking site. After months of waiting, Lee was granted a civil protection order forbidding her husband from approaching within 200 yards of her.
Sexual Harassment: The law bans sexual harassment, and the number of sexual harassment complaints has increased significantly. A 2009 Harvard University study showed that 80 percent of working women in the country experienced sexual harassment at some stage of their career. The same study found that only 30 percent of sexual harassment claims by women succeeded.
Sexual harassment was not limited to the workplace. According to a China Youth Daily survey reported in September, approximately 14 percent of women had been sexually harassed while riding the subway, and 82 percent of those polled believed the problem existed. At a Hainan Province festival on August 23, a dozen women were pinned down by a crowd of men who mauled the women and stripped off their clothes in broad daylight. Police escorted the women away, but no other action was taken.
According to information on the ACWF Web site, the Internet and hotlines have made it easier for women who have been sexually harassed to obtain useful information and legal service. A Beijing rights lawyer told the ACWF that approximately 100 to 200 million women in the country had suffered or were suffering sexual harassment in the workplace, but very few legal service centers provided counseling.
Reproductive Rights: The government restricted the rights of parents to choose the number of children they have. National law prohibits the use of physical coercion to compel persons to submit to abortion or sterilization. However, intense pressure to meet birth-limitation targets set by government regulations resulted in instances of local family-planning officials’ using physical coercion to meet government goals. Such practices included the mandatory use of birth control and the abortion of unauthorized pregnancies. In the case of families that already had two children, one parent was often pressured to undergo sterilization.
The national family-planning authorities shifted their emphasis from lowering fertility rates to maintaining low fertility rates and emphasized quality of care in family-planning practices. In 2010 a representative of the National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that 85 percent of women of childbearing age used some form of contraception. Of those, 70 percent used a reversible method; however, a survey taken in September found that only 12 percent of women between ages 20 to 35 had a proper understanding of contraceptive methods. The country’s birth-limitation policies retained harshly coercive elements in law and practice. The National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that 13 million women annually underwent abortions caused by unplanned pregnancies. The financial and administrative penalties for unauthorized births were strict.
In 2010 Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province was the site of a high-profile court proceeding in which a 30-year-old female plaintiff sued the local family-planning bureau, claiming that she had been barred from a civil service position in the county government for giving birth to a child before marriage. Although she married the father soon after the child’s birth, the court upheld the family-planning bureau’s decree that the birth of an out-of-wedlock child made her ineligible for the government position. Later that year in Taizhou, Jiangsu, in a similar case involving a male plaintiff, the court ruled that the male plaintiff also was ineligible for a civil service position.
The 2002 national population and family-planning law standardized the implementation of the government’s birth-limitation policies; however, enforcement varied significantly. The law grants married couples the right to have one birth and allows eligible couples to apply for permission to have a second child if they meet conditions stipulated in local and provincial regulations. The one-child limit was more strictly applied in urban areas, where only couples meeting certain conditions were permitted to have a second child (e.g., if each of the would-be parents was an only child). In most rural areas, the policy was more relaxed, with couples permitted to have a second child in cases where their first child was a girl. Ethnic minorities were subject to less stringent rules. Nationwide, 35 percent of families fell under the one-child restrictions, and more than 60 percent of families were eligible to have a second child, either outright or if they met certain criteria. The remaining 5 percent were eligible to have more than two children. According to government statistics, the average fertility rate for women nationwide was 1.8; in the country’s most populous and prosperous city, Shanghai, the fertility rate was 0.8.
The National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that all provinces eliminated the birth-approval requirement before a first child is conceived, but provinces may still continue to require parents to “register” pregnancies prior to giving birth to their first child. This registration requirement can be used as a de facto permit system in some provinces, as some local governments continued to mandate abortion for single women who became pregnant. Provinces and localities imposed fines of various amounts on unwed mothers.
Regulations requiring women who violate family-planning policy to terminate their pregnancies still exist in the 25th and 22nd provisions of the Population and Family Control Regulation of Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces, respectively. An additional 10 provinces–Fujian, Guizhou, Guangdong, Gansu, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Sichuan, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Yunnan–require unspecified “remedial measures” to deal with unauthorized pregnancies.
In April government officials in Fujian City seized a woman and forced her to abort her child. In June authorities forcefully took a seven-month pregnant woman, Feng Jianmei, from her home to a hospital in Shaanxi Province and induced the abortion of her child. In response to national and international media attention, the government launched an investigation, which determined that the local family planning bureau had violated her rights. Two local officials were fired and five otherwise sanctioned. Feng was awarded 70,000 RMB ($11,230) in compensation.
In June family planning officials in Changsha, Hunan Province, forcefully took Cao Ruyi from her home and beat her to pressure her into having an abortion. The officials stopped short of inducing an abortion after a public outcry but forced Cao to sign a document agreeing to pay unspecified fines. Local officials also pressured her husband’s employer into firing him.
The law requires each person in a couple that has an unapproved child to pay a “social compensation fee,” which can reach 10 times a person’s annual disposable income.
Social compensation fees were set and assessed at the local level. The law requires family-planning officials to obtain court approval before taking “forcible” action, such as detaining family members or confiscating and destroying property of families who refuse to pay social compensation fees. However, this requirement was not always followed, and national authorities remained ineffective at reducing abuses by local officials.
The population control policy relied on education, propaganda, and economic incentives, as well as on more coercive measures. Those who violated the child-limit policy by having an unapproved child or helping another do so faced disciplinary measures such as social compensation fees, job loss or demotion, loss of promotion opportunity, expulsion from the CCP (membership is an unofficial requirement for certain jobs), and other administrative punishments, including in some cases the destruction of private property.
To delay childbearing the law sets the minimum marriage age for women at 20 and for men at 22. It continued to be illegal in almost all provinces for a single woman to have a child, with fines levied for violations. The law states that family-planning bureaus conduct pregnancy tests on married women and provide them with unspecified “follow-up” services. Some provinces fined women who did not undergo periodic pregnancy tests.
Officials at all levels remained subject to rewards or penalties based on meeting the population goals set by their administrative region. Promotions for local officials depended in part on meeting population targets. Linking job promotion with an official’s ability to meet or exceed such targets provided a powerful structural incentive for officials to employ coercive measures to meet population goals. An administrative reform process initiated pilot programs in some localities that removed this linkage for evaluating officials’ performance.
Although the family-planning law states that officials should not violate citizens’ rights in the enforcement of family-planning policy, these rights, as well as penalties for violating them, are not clearly defined. By law citizens may sue officials who exceed their authority in implementing birth-planning policy. However, few protections for whistleblowers against retaliation from local officials exist. The law provides significant and detailed sanctions for officials who help persons evade the birth limitations.
According to online reports, women who registered newborns in Nanhai District, Foshan, Guangdong Province, were requested to insert an IUD (intrauterine device). Many posted online complaints that officials threatened to not register the baby if the mother did not comply, even when the newborn was the mother’s only child.
Discrimination: The constitution states that “women enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life.” The Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests provides for equality in ownership of property, inheritance rights, and access to education. The ACWF was the leading implementer of women’s policy for the government, and the State Council’s National Working Committee on Children and Women coordinated women’s policy. Nonetheless, many activists and observers expressed concern that discrimination was increasing. Women continued to report that discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair dismissal, demotion, and wage discrepancies were significant problems.
Authorities often did not enforce laws protecting the rights of women. According to legal experts, it was difficult to litigate sex discrimination suits because of vague legal definitions. Some observers noted that the agencies tasked with protecting women’s rights tended to focus on maternity-related benefits and wrongful termination during maternity leave rather than on sex discrimination, violence against women, and sexual harassment. Women’s rights advocates indicated that in rural areas women often forfeited land and property rights to their husbands in divorce proceedings. Rural contract law and laws protecting women’s rights stipulate that women enjoy equal rights in cases of land management, but experts argued that in practice this was rarely the case, due to the complexity of the law and difficulties in its implementation. An August 2011 interpretation of the country’s marriage law by the Supreme People’s Court exacerbated the gender wealth gap by stating that after divorce, marital property belonged solely to the person registered as the homeowner in mortgage and registration documents–in most cases the husband. In determining child custody in divorce cases, judges make determinations based on the following guidelines: Children under age two should live with their mothers; children two to nine years of age should have custody determined by who can provide the most stable living arrangement; and children 10 and over should be consulted when determining custody.
Many employers preferred to hire men to avoid the expense of maternity leave and childcare (paid paternity leave exists for men in some localities, but there is no national provision for paternity leave). Work units were allowed to impose an earlier mandatory retirement age for women than for men, and some employers lowered the effective retirement age for female workers to 50 (in general, the official retirement age for men was 60 and for women 55). Lower retirement ages also reduced pensions, which generally were based on the number of years worked. Job advertisements for women sometimes specified height and age requirements.
Despite government policies mandating nondiscrimination in employment and occupation, women reportedly earned 66 percent as much as men. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the local labor bureaus were responsible for ensuring that enterprises complied with the labor law and the employment promotion law, each of which contains antidiscrimination provisions.
A high female suicide rate continued to be a serious problem. There were approximately 590 female suicides per day, according to a report released in September by the Chinese Center for Disease and Control and Prevention. This was more than the approximately 500 per day reported in 2009. The report noted that the suicide rate for women was three times higher than for males. Many observers believed that violence against women and girls, discrimination in education and employment, the traditional preference for male children, birth-limitation policies, and other societal factors contributed to the high female suicide rate. Women in rural areas, where the suicide rate for women was three to four times higher than for men, were especially vulnerable.
The World Bank reported that in 2009, 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 were literate. Women above the age of 15 were 91 percent of literate, compared with 97 percent of men above the age of 15.
Women faced discrimination in higher education. The required score for the National Higher Entrance Exam was lower for men than for women at several Chinese universities and often based on subject. According to Ministry of Education statistics, women accounted for 49.6 percent of undergraduate students and 50.3 percent of master’s students during the year but only 35 percent of doctoral students in 2010. Women with advanced degrees reported discrimination in the hiring process as the job distribution system became more competitive and market driven.
Gender-biased Sex Selection: According to the 2010 national census, the national average male-female sex ratio at birth was 118 to 100. Sex identification and sex-selective abortion (commonly referred to as the “two nons”) were prohibited, but the practices continued because of traditional preference for male children and the birth-limitation policy.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from parents. Parents must register their children in compliance with the national household registration system within one month of birth. Children not registered cannot access public services. No data was available on the number of unregistered births.
Education: The law provides for nine years of compulsory education for children. However, in economically disadvantaged rural areas, many children did not attend school for the required period, and some never attended at all. Public schools were not allowed to charge tuition; however, faced with insufficient local and central government funding, many schools continued to charge miscellaneous fees. Such fees and other school-related expenses made it difficult for poorer families and some migrant workers to send their children to school.
In 2010 the literacy rate for youth (15-24) was 99 percent. The proportion of girls attending school in rural and minority areas was reportedly smaller than in cities; in rural areas 61 percent of boys and 43 percent of girls completed education at a grade higher than lower middle school. The government reported that nearly 20 million children of migrant laborers followed their parents to urban areas. Denied access to state-run schools, most children of migrant workers who attended school did so at unlicensed and poorly equipped schools.
Medical Care: Female babies suffered from a higher mortality rate than male babies, contrary to the worldwide norm. State media reported that infant mortality rates in rural areas were 27 percent higher for girls than boys and that neglect was one factor in their lower survival rate.
Child Abuse: The physical abuse of children can be grounds for criminal prosecution. Kidnapping and buying and selling children for adoption increased over the past several years, particularly in poor rural areas. There were no reliable estimates of the number of children kidnapped; however, according to media reports, as many as 20,000 children were kidnapped every year for illegal adoption. Most children kidnapped internally were sold to couples unable to have children, particularly sons. Those convicted of buying an abducted child may be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. In the past most children rescued were boys, but increased demand for children reportedly drove traffickers to focus on girls as well. The Ministry of Public Security maintained a DNA database of parents of missing children and children recovered in law enforcement operations in an effort to reunite families.
Child Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 22 for men and 20 for women. Child marriage was not known to be a problem. (However, there were reports of babies sold to be future brides; that is, families would adopt and raise them for eventual marriage to their sons.)
Sexual Exploitation of Children: By law those who force young girls under age 14 into prostitution may be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison, in addition to a fine or confiscation of property. If the case is especially serious, violators can receive a life sentence or sentenced to death, in addition to confiscation of property. Those inducing girls under age 14 into prostitution can be sentenced to five years or more in prison in addition to a fine. Those who visit female prostitutes under age 14 are subject to five years or more in prison in addition to paying a fine.
According to the law, the minimum age of consensual sex is 14.
Pornography of any kind, including child pornography, is illegal. Under the criminal code, those producing, reproducing, publishing, selling, or disseminating obscene materials with the purpose of making a profit may be sentenced up to three years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance in addition to paying a fine. Offenders in serious cases may receive prison sentences of three to 10 years in addition to paying a fine. In especially serious cases offenders are to be sentenced to 10 years or more in prison or given a life sentence in addition to a fine or confiscation of property. Persons found disseminating obscene books, magazines, films, audio or video products, pictures, or other kinds of obscene materials, if the case is serious, may be sentenced up to two years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance. Persons organizing the broadcast of obscene motion pictures or other audio or video products may be sentenced up to three years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance in addition to paying a fine. If the case is serious, they are to be sentenced to three to 10 years in prison in addition to paying a fine.
Those broadcasting or showing obscene materials to minors less than age 18 are to be severely punished.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: The Law on the Protection of Juveniles forbids infanticide; however, there was evidence that the practice continued. According to the National Population and Family-planning Commission, a handful of doctors were charged with infanticide under this law. Female infanticide, sex-selective abortions, and the abandonment and neglect of baby girls remained problems due to the traditional preference for sons and the coercive birth-limitation policy.
Displaced Children: There were between 150,000 and one million urban street children, according to state-run media. This number was even higher if the children of migrant workers who spent the day on the streets were included. In 2010 the ACWF reported that the number of children in rural areas left behind by their migrant-worker parents totaled 58 million, 40 million under the age of 14.
Institutionalized Children: The law forbids the mistreatment or abandonment of children. The vast majority of children in orphanages were girls, many of whom were abandoned. Boys in orphanages were usually disabled or in poor health. Medical professionals sometimes advised parents of children with disabilities to put the children into orphanages.
The government denied that children in orphanages were mistreated or refused medical care but acknowledged that the system often was unable to provide adequately for some children, particularly those with serious medical problems. Adopted children were counted under the birth-limitation regulations in most locations. As a result, couples who adopted abandoned infant girls were sometimes barred from having additional children.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts during the year. The government does not recognize Judaism as an ethnicity or religion. According to information from the Jewish Virtual Library, the country’s Jewish population was 1,500 in 2010.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Person’s Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
Persons with Disabilities
The law protects the rights of persons with disabilities and prohibits discrimination; however, conditions for such persons lagged far behind legal dictates, failing to provide persons with disabilities access to programs designed to assist them.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF), a government-organized civil association, are the main entities responsible for persons with disabilities. In June the CDPF stated that, based on 2010 census figures, 85 million persons with disabilities lived in the country. According to government statistics, in 2011 there were 5,254 vocational training facilities, which provided training for 299,000 persons with disabilities. Of the 32 million persons with disabilities of working age, more than 22 million were employed. Government statistics stated that 7.4 million persons with disabilities enjoyed “minimum-life-guarantee” stipends; nearly three million had social insurance.
The law prohibits discrimination against minors with disabilities and codifies a variety of judicial protections for juveniles. In 2007 the Ministry of Education reported that nationwide there were 1,618 schools for children with disabilities. According to NGOs, there were approximately 20 million children with disabilities, only 2 percent of whom had access to special education that could meet their needs.
According to the CDPF, in 2010 more than 519,000 school-age children with disabilities received compulsory education, 68 percent of them in inclusive education, and 32 percent in 1,705 special schools and 2,775 special classes. NGOs claimed that while the overall school enrollment rate was 99 percent, only 75 percent of children with disabilities were enrolled in school. Nationwide, an estimated 243,000 school-age children with disabilities did not attend school. In 2011, 7,150 persons with disabilities were admitted to standard colleges and universities. Nearly 100,000 organizations existed, mostly in urban areas, to serve those with disabilities and protect their legal rights. The government, at times in conjunction with NGOs, sponsored programs to integrate persons with disabilities into society.
Misdiagnosis, inadequate medical care, stigmatization, and abandonment remained common problems. According to reports, doctors frequently persuaded parents of children with disabilities to place their children in large government-run institutions, where care was often inadequate. Those parents who chose to keep children with disabilities at home generally faced difficulty finding adequate medical care, day care, and education for their children. Government statistics showed that almost one-quarter of persons with disabilities lived in extreme poverty.
Unemployment among adults with disabilities remained a serious problem. The Employment Promotion Law requires local governments to offer incentives to enterprises that hire persons with disabilities. Regulations in some parts of the country also require employers to pay into a national fund for persons with disabilities when the employees with disabilities do not make up the statutory minimum percentage of the total workforce.
Standards adopted for making roads and buildings accessible to persons with disabilities are subject to the Law on the Handicapped, which calls for their “gradual” implementation; however, compliance with the law was lax. The law permits universities to exclude candidates with disabilities who were otherwise qualified.
The law forbids the marriage of persons with certain acute mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. If doctors find that a couple is at risk of transmitting disabling congenital defects to their children, the couple may marry only if they agree to use birth control or undergo sterilization. The law stipulates that local governments must employ such practices to raise the percentage of healthy births.
Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited. Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive preferential treatment in birth planning, university admission, access to loans, and employment. However, the substance and implementation of ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against minorities remained widespread.
Minority groups in border and other regions had less access to education than their Han counterparts, faced job discrimination in favor of Han migrants, and earned incomes well below those in other parts of the country. Government development programs often disrupted traditional living patterns of minority groups and included, in some cases, the forced relocation of persons. Han Chinese benefited disproportionately from government programs and economic growth. As part of its emphasis on building a “harmonious society” and maintaining social stability, the government downplayed racism and institutional discrimination against minorities, which remained the source of deep resentment in the XUAR, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), the TAR, and other Tibetan areas.
Ethnic minorities represented approximately 14 percent of delegates to the NPC and more than 15 percent of NPC Standing Committee members, according to an official report issued in July 2011. A November 2011 article in the official online news source for overseas readers stated that ethnic minorities comprised 41 percent of cadres in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 25 percent of cadres in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and 51 percent of cadres in the XUAR. According to a July 11 article from the official Xinhua News Agency, 32 percent of cadres in Yunnan Province were members of an ethnic minority. During the year all five of the country’s ethnic minority autonomous regions had chairmen (equivalent to the governor of a province) from minority groups. The CCP secretaries of these five autonomous regions were all Han. Han officials continued to hold the majority of the most powerful CCP and government positions in minority autonomous regions, particularly the XUAR.
The government’s policy to encourage Han Chinese migration into minority areas significantly increased the population of Han in the XUAR. In recent decades the Han-Uighur ratio in the capital of Urumqi reversed from 20/ 80 to 80/20 and continued to be a source of Uighur resentment. Discriminatory hiring practices gave preference to Han and discouraged job prospects for ethnic minorities. According to official results of the 2010 national census, 8.75 million, or 40 percent, of the XUAR’s 21.8 million official residents were Han. Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur, and other ethnic minorities constituted approximately 13 million XUAR residents, or 60 percent of the total population. Official statistics understated the Han population, because they did not count the tens of thousands of Han Chinese who were long-term “temporary workers.” As the government continued to promote Han migration into the XUAR and filled local jobs with domestic migrant labor, local officials coerced young Uighur women to participate in a government-sponsored labor transfer program to cities outside the XUAR, according to overseas human rights organizations.
The XUAR government took measures to dilute expressions of Uighur identity, including reducing the use of ethnic minority languages in XUAR schools and instituting Mandarin Chinese language requirements that disadvantaged ethnic minority teachers. The government continued to apply policies that prioritized standard Chinese for instruction in school, thereby reducing or eliminating ethnic-language instruction. The dominant position of standard Chinese in government, commerce, and academia put graduates of minority-language schools who lacked standard Chinese proficiency at a disadvantage.
During the year authorities continued to implement repressive policies in the XUAR and targeted the region’s ethnic Uighur population. Officials in the XUAR continued to implement a pledge to crack down on the government-designated “three forces” of religious extremism, ethnic separatism, and terrorism and outlined efforts to launch a concentrated antiseparatist reeducation campaign. It was believed that some raids, detentions, and judicial punishments ostensibly directed at individuals or organizations suspected of promoting the “three forces” were actually used to target groups or individuals peacefully seeking to express their political or religious views. The government continued to repress Uighurs expressing peaceful political dissent and independent Muslim religious leaders, often citing counterterrorism as the reason for taking action.
Uighurs continued to be sentenced to long prison terms, and in some cases executed without due process, on charges of separatism and endangering state security. The government reportedly pressured foreign countries to repatriate Uighurs, who faced the risk of oppression upon return.
Freedom of assembly was severely limited during the year in the XUAR.
Reportedly at year’s end one son of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Conference, whom the government blamed for orchestrating the 2009 riots in Urumqi, remained in prison.
Possession of publications or audiovisual materials discussing independence or other sensitive subjects was not permitted. Uighurs who remained in prison at year’s end for their peaceful expression of ideas the government found objectionable included Abdulla Jamal, Adduhelil Zunun, and Nurmuhemmet Yasin.
During the year XUAR and national-level officials defended the campaign against the three forces of religious extremism, splittism, and terrorism and other emergency measures taken as necessary to maintain public order. Officials continued to use the threat of violence as justification for extreme security measures directed at the local population, journalists, and visiting foreigners.
The Information Promotion Bill, approved by XUAR authorities in 2009, criminalizes discussion of separatism on the Internet and prohibits use of the Internet in any way that undermines national unity. The regulation further bans inciting ethnic separatism or harming social stability. It requires Internet service providers and network operators to set up monitoring systems or strengthen existing ones and report violations of the law.
Han control of the region’s political and economic institutions also contributed to heightened tension. Although government policies continued to allot economic investment in and brought economic improvements to the XUAR, Han residents received a disproportionate share of the benefits.
Reuters News Agency reported that on April 3, police used “brutal force” to break up a demonstration by hundreds of ethnic Mongolians who were protesting land seizures near Tongliao in the IMAR. The foreign-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center stated that five protesters were seriously injured and that “police violently beat the protesters with batons.” Similar protests were staged throughout the year across the IMAR, often resulting in detentions and police abuse, as the regional government sought to implement Beijing’s policy of resettling China’s nomadic population.
On November 7, RFA cited a report from the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center stating that the wife and son of detained Mongolian rights activist Hada had disappeared two weeks earlier, in the immediate lead-up to the 18th Party Congress. Their whereabouts remained unknown at year’s end.
(For specific information on Tibet, please see the Tibet Annex.)
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
No laws criminalize private consensual same sex activities between adults. Due to societal discrimination and pressure to conform to family expectations, most gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons refrained from publicly discussing their sexual orientation. Individual activists and organizations working on LGBT problems continued to report discrimination and harassment from authorities.
In June the Beijing LGBT center was notified by property management that its lease would be terminated early due to complaints that it was too noisy. Neighbors reportedly pressured management to terminate the lease after learning that it was an LGBT organization. The center was only able to recoup less than the half of its 11,000-RMB ($1,765) investment for the move.
As was the case in 2011, the sixth Beijing Queer Film Festival was forced underground due to harassment from local police, officers from the Bureau of Industry and Trade, and officials from the Culture Bureau. The police deemed the event “illegal.” Organizers were forced to close the event to the general public and show the films to invited guests only. The venue of the festival was also changed every night to avoid police detection. However, police did not intervene in an April same-sex marriage rally at Guangzhou’s People’s Park that included kissing among gays and lesbians to attract the attention of passersby.
In September a unit of the Hangzhou Education Bureau and the Hangzhou Education Research Institute published a book, Parents, Please Walk Your Children through Puberty, that referred to homosexual behavior as “sexual deviance” and called on parents to “prevent such behavior.” The book indicated that reparative therapy was possible.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The 2008 Employment Promotion Law, prohibits discrimination against persons carrying infectious diseases, and allows such persons to work as civil servants. The law does not address some common types of discrimination in employment, including discrimination based on height, physical appearance, or place of origin.
Despite provisions in the Employment Promotion Law, discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B carriers (including 20 million chronic carriers) remained widespread in many areas, and local governments sometimes tried to suppress their activities. In August a man who was refused employment after it was discovered he had hepatitis was awarded 8,000 RMB ($1,280) in damages by a Xi’an court. The man originally asked for 50,000 RMB ($8,020) in compensation.
HIV/AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, founder and director of the Beijing-based NGO Aizhixing, remained overseas after leaving the country in May 2010. The organization continued to come under pressure from the government.
Persons with HIV/AIDS were routinely denied admission to hospitals for medical care. The hospitals feared that, should the general population find out that they were treating HIV/AIDS patients, persons would choose to go to other hospitals. It was common practice for general hospitals to refer patients to specialty hospitals working with infectious diseases.
International involvement in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, as well as central government pressure on local governments to respond appropriately, brought improvements in many localities. Some hospitals that previously refused to treat HIV/AIDS patients had active care and treatment programs because domestic and international training programs improved the understanding of local healthcare workers and their managers. In Beijing dozens of local community centers encouraged and facilitated HIV/AIDS support groups.
In March, Zhejiang Province eliminated its mandatory HIV testing for suspects arrested for drug charges. The move was seen as a step in protecting the privacy of the individuals.
In February, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region drafted legislation for real name registration for HIV testing and required that individuals who tested positive tell their spouses.
Despite a 2010 nationwide rule banning mandatory hepatitis B virus tests in job and school admissions applications, 61 percent of state-run companies in February 2011 continued to use hepatitis B testing as a part of their preemployment screen.
In September 2011 a report from a Beijing-based NGO stated that 32 percent of kindergartens surveyed would refuse to enroll children infected with hepatitis B.
In July a widely used public health Web site for persons infected with hepatitis was blocked within the country. The Web site had been blocked two times earlier, in 2007 and 2008. The Web site’s main goal is to eliminate discrimination of hepatitis carriers and provide a social forum to build awareness of the disease.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law does not protect freedom of association, since workers are not free to organize or join unions of their own choosing. Independent unions are illegal, and the right to strike is not protected in law.
The Trade Union Law provides specific legal remedies against antiunion discrimination and specifies that union representatives may not be transferred or terminated by enterprise management during their term of office. Collective contract regulations provide similar protections for employee representatives during collective consultations. While there were no publicly available official statistics on the enforcement of these laws, there were periodic domestic media reports of courts awarding monetary compensation for wrongful terminations of union representatives.
Regulations require a union to gather input from workers prior to consultation with management and to submit collective contracts to workers or their congress for approval. There is no legal obligation for employers to negotiate, and some employers refused to do so.
The Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law provides for labor dispute resolution through a three-stage process: mediation between the parties, arbitration by officially designated arbitrators, and litigation. A key article of this law requires employers to consult with labor unions or employee representatives on matters that have a direct bearing on the immediate interests of their workers.
The Trade Union Law specifically addresses unions’ responsibility to “coordinate the labor relations and safeguard the labor rights and interests of the enterprise employees through equal negotiation and collective contract system” and to represent employees in negotiating and signing collective contracts with enterprises or public institutions.
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which the CCP controls and a member of the Politburo chairs, is the sole legal workers’ organization. The Trade Union Law gives the ACFTU control over all union organizations and activities, including enterprise-level unions and requires the ACFTU to “uphold the leadership of the Communist Party.” ACFTU constituent unions were generally ineffective in protecting the rights and interests of members. In response to widespread criticism of the ACFTU’s response following several high-profile labor disputes in 2010, the ACFTU advocated for government policies and legal reform to better equip the union to protect workers’ rights. The ACFTU played a visible role in revisions to the Labor Contract Law intended to enhance protection of misclassified workers. On December 28, the NPC adopted amendments to the Labor Contract Law to limit the use of dispatch (contract) workers.
The ACFTU and its provincial and local branches continued aggressively to organize new constituent unions and add new members, especially in large, multinational enterprises. According to the ACFTU, nearly one of every five Chinese are members of trade unions. More than 18 million workers joined labor unions through 2011, bringing the total trade union membership to 258 million. More than 96 million members were migrant workers, and trade union organizations have been established in more than 1.7 million businesses.
Although the law states that trade union officers at each level should be elected, most factory-level officers were appointed by ACFTU-affiliated unions, often in coordination with employers, and were drawn largely from the ranks of management. Direct election by workers of union leaders continued to be rare, occurred only at the enterprise level, and was subject to supervision by higher levels of the union or CCP. As is true in all types of enterprises, in state-owned enterprises the CCP had a variety of mechanisms by which it could influence the selection of trade union officers. In enterprises where direct election of union officers took place, regional ACFTU offices and local CCP authorities retained control over the selection and approval of candidates. The inability to elect their representatives directly continued to be a key problem raised by workers throughout the country.
While work stoppages are not expressly prohibited in law, article 53 of the constitution has been interpreted as a ban on labor strikes by obligating all citizens to “observe labor discipline and public order.” Local government interpretations of the law varied, with some jurisdictions showing tolerance for strikes while others continued to treat worker protests as illegal demonstrations. Without a clearly defined right to strike, workers had only a limited capacity to influence labor negotiations.
As in past years, in spite of the unclear legal status of worker strikes, there were reports of workers throughout the country engaging in strikes, work stoppages, and other protest actions. Although there were no publicly available figures for the number of strikes and protests each year since the government restricts release of that data, the ACFTU confirmed that the frequency of “spontaneous” strikes had increased in recent years, especially in Shenzhen and other areas with developed labor markets and large pools of sophisticated, rights-conscious workers. Strikes primarily continued to be resolved directly between workers and management without the involvement of the ACFTU or its constituent local trade unions. Where labor relations disputes were resolved without resorting to strikes, factory management continued the trend of engaging directly with workers via employer-worker committees rather than through the legally approved ACFTU-affiliated trade union. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security voiced support for the expansion and establishment of employer-worker committees throughout all enterprises.
The Labor Contract Law provides that labor unions “shall assist and direct the employees” in establishing “a collective negotiation mechanism,” and that collective contracts can include “matters of remuneration, working hours, breaks, vacations, work safety and hygiene, insurance, benefits, etc.” It further provides that there may be industrial or regional collective contracts “in industries such as construction, mining, catering services, etc. in the regions at or below the county level.” The labor law allows for collective bargaining for workers in all types of enterprises. If no agreement is reached, the employer does not have a right to lock out the workers, and the workers do not have a right to strike. The trade unions, according to the ACFTU, do not encourage strikes but rather are involved in investigations and go to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security for help in resolving disputes. While no law or rule allows trade unions to carry out a strike and government entities cannot encourage strikes, it is not illegal for workers to strike spontaneously. For this reason many employers preferred to deal with individual employees directly, resulting in some positive outcomes when employees were organized but also allowing for widespread employer abuse of labor contracts. The ACFTU stated it was promoting laws for collective bargaining on core worker interests. Many autonomous regions and municipalities enacted local rules allowing collective wage negotiation, and some limited form of collective bargaining was more or less compulsory in 25 of 31 provinces, according to the ACFTU. Common cases of noncompliance with the Labor Contract Law continued to include forcing employees to sign blank contracts and not providing workers a copy of their contract. Lack of government resources also undermined effective implementation and enforcement of the Labor Contract Law.
The number of labor disputes nationwide continued to rise as workers’ awareness of the laws increased. The Labor Contract Law and the global financial crisis both contributed to the growth in labor disputes in the court system. According to figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, as of September there were more than 3,000 labor arbitration units and 25,000 labor arbitrators. Through 2011 the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security handled 1.3 million “labor and personnel disputes.” Of these, 589,000 were registered arbitration cases, of which 93.9 percent were resolved.
The Guangdong provincial government guidelines on enterprise collective wage bargaining require employers to give employee representatives information regarding a company’s operations, including employee pay and benefits, to be used in wage bargaining. The guidelines also allow the local labor bureau to act as a mediator to help determine wage increases if requested by the employees and employers. To date, however, there was no progress in advancing the stalled debate over collective bargaining legislation in the Guangdong provincial legislature. Observers considered Guangdong, traditionally a leader in reforms and pilot projects, a barometer of the direction other parts of the country might be heading.
In March, working through an informal representative who negotiated with factory management, striking workers at a Shenzhen electronics factory received not only a pay increase but also the promise that they would be able to elect representatives to the enterprise-level labor union directly. The outcome generated optimism among scholars, but many labor NGOs cautioned that this was an isolated case. The workers were able to elect one union representative, but it was not clear whether this would become an institutionalized process.
Labor activists detained in previous years reportedly remained in detention at year’s end, including: Chen Yuqian, Feng Xinchun, Gonpo Lhundrub, Gonpo Thar, Jalo, Tselo, Kong Youping, Li Jianfeng, Liu Jian, Memet Turghun Abdulla, Wang Diangang, Wang Miaogen, Xing Shiku, Xue Mingkai, Zuo Xiaohuan, Zhou Decai, and Zhu Chengzhi.
Although creative strategies by some multinational purchasers provided new approaches to reducing the incidence of labor violations in supplier factories, insufficient government oversight of both foreign affiliated and purely domestic supplier factories continued to contribute to poor working conditions.
Abuse of the student-worker system continued as well. One international labor NGO reported that even among students working in domestic companies in the supply chains of multinational electronics manufacturers, where there was greater scrutiny, most did not have the formal written contracts required by law. The media reported allegations that schools and local officials were improperly facilitating the supply of student laborers.
There was a wide variety of experimentation at the provincial and local level. For example, throughout the year Guangdong initiated a number of proposals aimed at facilitating the operations and work of NGOs, including simplifying registration procedures so that certain categories of NGOs could register directly with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. These initiatives included outreach to the Pearl River Delta’s (PRD’s) labor NGOs. Implementation of regulations associated with these proposals across the province was inconsistent, since some NGOs reportedly faced greater difficulties, while others elsewhere enjoyed increased opportunities and engagement with civil society. In February, Shenzhen officials initiated a campaign of harassment of labor NGOs working on sensitive rights problems; at year’s end the harassment campaign continued. Many of the affected NGOs were forced to suspend operations after local authorities forcibly evicted them, shut off their utilities, or subjected them to constant financial investigations.
Workers in the PRD and elsewhere, particularly in the construction industry, increasingly went on strike to demand the payment of past wages as an economic downturn led to diminishing profits, more factory closures, and abandoned construction projects. At the end of August disputes over unpaid wages triggered a public protest in Guangzhou by Guangdong Province Highway Administration workers, a work stoppage at a construction equipment factory in Heshan, Guangdong Province, a demonstration by laborers in front of the Xiamen, Fujian Province People’s Court, and a protest in Foshan, Guangdong Province, by workers who blocked traffic and called on the local government to mediate their cases with recently closed factories.
Workers’ protests also started to move beyond the realm of wage arrears, sufficient pay, and working conditions. In April, Guangzhou media reported that workers at a Nanhai, Foshan City, shoe factory staged demonstrations because factory management had insulted them during negotiations over the factory’s move to another Foshan location. In July workers at a Huizhou, Guangdong Province, lighting company protested the removal of the company’s chief executive, claiming the investors who ousted the former chief executive and who were running the company’s three factories during the year had weakened the company’s financial standing, leading to falling share prices.
During the year strikes remained primarily economic in nature (e.g., increased wages, subsidies for food and housing), but other problems such as workplace conditions and social welfare became more prominent. In January, Hong Kong media reported that thousands of workers from the Panzhihua Iron and Steel Group in Chengdu took to the streets to demand wage increases. Authorities deployed 1,000 police to suppress the march and dispersed the crowd after a confrontation with the protesters. On June 29, construction workers rallied in front of the municipal government building in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, to call for improved pension benefits. The government’s response to worker protests continued to be a mixture of mediation, conciliation, and coercion. While some jurisdictions sought to develop more flexible strategies to resolve labor disputes, others continued to rely on more repressive measures.
As in other regions, labor tensions also appear to be rising in the eastern region, with small-scale worker protests and strikes regularly reported in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui. For example, more than 1,000 migrant workers in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, led a march on May 29 to protest the death of a worker supposedly killed as the result of a wage dispute with his employer. In September 6,000 employees of a Singaporean factory in Shanghai went on strike to protest plans to move the factory to a neighboring province where labor conditions allegedly were worse. In Anhui Province in early September, plainclothes security forces employed by the railroad allegedly severely beat migrant workers demanding wage negotiations with the China Railway Sixth Organization.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced and compulsory labor and contains provisions relevant to forced labor and trafficking for labor purposes. However, there were reports that such practices occurred.
There were reports that employers withheld wages or required unskilled workers to deposit several months’ wages as security against the workers departing early from their labor contracts. These practices often prevented workers from exercising their right to leave their employment and made them vulnerable to forced labor. Implementation of amended labor laws, along with workers’ increased knowledge of their rights under these new laws, continued to reduce these practices.
In February police in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, rescued 18 laborers whom criminal organizations forced to work without payment. Most of the laborers were migrant workers or homeless persons.
Forced labor in penal institutions remained a serious problem according to the International Trade Union Confederation. Many prisoners and detainees in RTL facilities were required to work, often with no remuneration. In addition there were credible allegations that prisoners were forced to work for private production facilities associated with prisons. These facilities often operated under two different names, a prison name and a commercial enterprise name. No effective mechanism prevented the export of goods made under such conditions. Goods and materials likely to be produced by forced labor included toys, garments and textiles, electronics, bricks, and coal.
The Ministry of Justice discussed allegations of exported prison labor goods with foreign government officials, but information about prisons, including associated labor camps and factories, was tightly controlled.
There were many cases of the labor reeducation system being used to persecute innocent persons and illegally punish protestors. For example, in August in Hunan Province, a woman was sentenced to 18 months in an RTL center after she demanded local officials impose tougher sentences on seven men convicted of abducting, raping, and forcing her 11-year-old daughter to work as a prostitute. The woman was eventually released from detention following a public outcry from academics, the Internet, and state-controlled media.
On November 20, a Chongqing court rejected the wrongful imprisonment suit brought by Ren Jianyu, who had been released the day before from an RTL center one year into his two-year sentence for “incitement to subvert state power” for posting online statements critical of the political system.
According to a July 2011 article published on the Web site of the Bureau of Reeducation Through Labor Administration, as of the end of 2008, 160,000 persons were imprisoned in 350 RTL centers.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16, but child labor remained a problem. The government does not publish statistics on the extent of child labor. However, based on print media and online reports, use of child labor was most prevalent in the electronics manufacturing industry, although many reports indicated it occurred in a number of sectors.
The law specifies administrative review, fines, and revocation of business licenses of those businesses that illegally hired minors and provides that underage children found working should be returned to their parents or other custodians in their original place of residence. However, a significant gap remained between legislation and implementation. Workers between the ages of 16 and 18 were referred to as “juvenile workers” and were prohibited from engaging in certain forms of dangerous work, including in mines.
In February the local Modern Express newspaper in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, reported that local labor authorities found an electronics factory to be employing child laborers. The report claimed that children as young as 12 years old were working 12-hour days on an electronics assembly line and that an organizer forwarded the children’s wages to their families in their home villages. In September an international labor NGO issued a report accusing Shenzhen suppliers of a multinational electronics company of using up to 100 underage workers, some of whom were using fake identities to gain employment. After the report was published, one multinational electronics maker stepped up internal audits of all of its Chinese company suppliers and announced a “zero tolerance” policy for child-labor violations at its suppliers, saying it would stop doing business with any company found to hire minors.
NGOs continued to report some use of child labor in factories producing for export. As in past years, there continued to be some reports that schools supplied factories with illegal child labor under the pretext of vocational training. After an internal audit, one multinational electronics company admitted it had violated the labor law after interns between the ages of 14 and 16 were discovered to be working at its subsidiary in Yantai, Shandong Province. A news report stated interns from a local vocational college had been working at the factory since 2010 as part of a local government initiative to help ease a labor shortage. There were reports that spot labor shortages, rising wage levels, and more demands by adult workers, compounded by continued fierce competition, induced some small enterprises to run the risk of hiring child labor and some local authorities to ignore this practice to prevent employers from moving to other areas.
Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/tda.htm.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There was no national minimum wage, but the law requires local and provincial governments to set their own minimum wage according to standards promulgated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Monthly minimum wages varied greatly with Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, the highest scheduled to rise to 1,600 RMB ($257) as March 1, 2013, and towns in remote Ningxia Province the lowest at 750 RMB ($120). During the year the country increased its “rural poverty level” to 192 RMB ($31) per month. A regulation states that labor and social security bureaus at or above the county level are responsible for enforcement of the law. It provides that, where the ACFTU finds an employer in violation of the regulation, it shall have the power to demand that the relevant local labor bureaus deal with the case.
In practice almost all local and provincial governments raised minimum wage levels significantly during the year, as a result of changing economic and demographic conditions. Additionally increased economic activity, spot shortages of skilled labor, increased inland investment, and successful strikes led to generally increased wage levels for workers in all parts of the country. A decrease in the migration of workers into Guangdong contributed to a changing factory workforce that was older and more likely to be married and have children. As the tenure of the PRD’s workers continued to increase, their skills improved, adding additional upward pressure on wages.
The law mandates a 40-hour standard workweek, excluding overtime, and a 24-hour weekly rest period. It also prohibits overtime work in excess of three hours per day or 36 hours per month and mandates premium pay for overtime work. However, compliance with the law was weak, and standards were regularly violated. While excessive overtime occurred, in many cases workers encouraged noncompliance by requesting greater amounts of overtime to increase their overall wages.
The labor law and Labor Contract Law include language supporting the principle of equal pay for equal work. Specifically with regard to dispatch (contract) workers, a series of NPC amendments to the Labor Contract Law on December 26 were intended to strengthen enforcement of this principle.
The State Administration for Work Safety (SAWS) sets and enforces occupational health and safety regulations. Companies that violate the regulation have their operations suspended or are deprived of business certificates and licenses.
Effective May 2, the SAWS and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Measures on Incentives for Safe Production Reporting (Measures), which authorize cash rewards to whistleblowers reporting companies for such violations as concealing workplace accidents, operating without proper licensing, operating unsafe equipment, or failing to provide workers with adequate safety training. The Measures warn against false accusations, but also stipulate protection under the law for legitimate whistleblowers who report violations.
While many labor laws and regulations on worker safety are fully compatible with international standards, implementation and enforcement were generally poor due to a lack of adequate resources. Inadequately enforced labor laws and occupational health and safety laws and regulations continued to put workers’ livelihoods, health, and safety at risk.
Wage disputes and nonpayment of wages remained a problem in many areas. Governments at various levels continued efforts to prevent arrears and recover payment of unpaid wages and insurance contributions.
Questions related to acceptable working conditions continued to plague electronics manufacturers such as Foxconn. Following unfavorable international media coverage of working conditions at its plants in China, Foxconn allowed the international, nonprofit Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct an audit of the company’s labor practices, including working hours and health and safety mechanisms. The FLA’s report, released in March, confirmed the existence of poor workplace conditions and provided a lengthy list of recommendations. In August the FLA reported that Foxconn had completed 280 action items on time or ahead of schedule. It added that Foxconn promised to reduce workers’ hours to 49 per week and stabilize pay by July 2013.
Local governments, in order to incentivize Foxconn to establish operations in their cities, promised to help recruit workers for Foxconn’s labor-intensive operations. In September the media reported that students in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces complained that their universities made it mandatory that they serve 45-day internships on assembly lines in Foxconn factories to meet Foxconn’s production demands.
Guangdong Province continued to implement programs associated with the Guangdong Provincial Communist Party Committee’s July 2011 “Decision on Strengthening Social Construction” that was in part a response to June 2011 migrant worker riots in Zengcheng and Chaozhou. As with Guangdong Province’s new NGO registration policy, efforts to address the social dislocation facing migrant workers and to absorb migrant workers through grassroots organizations or employment as civil servants were inconsistent among municipalities in the province. During the year most municipal governments, as well as the provincial government, increased the number of civil servant positions open to migrant workers.
Tension between migrant workers and local communities in the PRD continued and sometimes led to clashes between migrant workers and police. In June the beating of a migrant youth by local security personnel in the Guangdong town of Shaxi triggered rioting by Sichuan migrant workers who clashed with police, smashed police cars, and effectively shut down Shaxi for three days.
In recent years authorities have pressed mines to improve safety measures and mandated greater investments in safety. According to SAWS the casualty rate for coal-mine production was down by 33.7 percent during the year. Local media estimated 1,300 coal-mine deaths during the year, the first time in the history of the country’s coal-mine industry that deaths were below 1,500. Small coal mines, accounting for approximately 85 percent of 12,000 total coal mines, were responsible for two-thirds of deaths. In August, SAWS announced its goal of closing hundreds of small coal mines during the year in an attempt to reduce the number of deadly accidents.
Despite consistent reductions in mining deaths, there continued to be many coal-mine accidents throughout the country. For example, in March online reports indicated an accident in a mine in Hezhou, Guangxi Province, left one miner dead and five injured. In Liaoning Province, a March 22 gas explosion at the Dahuang Coal Mine in Liaoyang City killed five and trapped 17. In Heilongjiang Province a May 2 underground flood at the Junyuan Coal Mine in Hegang City killed 13 workers. In Jilin Province, an August 13 gas explosion at the Jisheng Coal Mine in Baishan City killed 17 workers and trapped three. Also in August a gas explosion killed 45 miners in a coal mine in the city of Panzhihua, Sichuan Province. A week later in Pingxiang, Jiangxi Province, a coal mine explosion killed at least another 15 miners. In October four miners and three rescuers suffocated from carbon dioxide poisoning in a poorly ventilated manganese mine that had been closed in Yongzhou, Hunan Province.
Instances of pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, remained high with a charitable NGO that helped to treat migrant workers estimating that the disease affected approximately six million rural residents. The ACFTU occupational disease experts estimated that 200 million workers worked in hazardous environments. The Law on Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases requires employers to provide free health checkups for employees working in hazardous conditions and inform them of the results, but according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only an estimated 10 percent of eligible employees received regular occupational health services. Small and medium-sized enterprises, the largest employers, often fail to provide the required health services.