Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - Page 1 News List

US report grim on China progress in human rights

PARTY RULE:An expert said reform would not be an easy feat in China because the country’s government considers maintaining its grip on power more important

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Reports that Taiwan’s democracy and freedom may have a positive effect on China are not supported by a new US congressional study on human rights and rule of law in China.

The annual bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China report issued this week paints a bleak picture of rights in China.

“Amid talk of a new round of economic reforms under [Chinese] President Xi Jinping (習近平), this year’s report serves as an important reminder that China is no closer to granting its citizens basic human rights than when China entered the World Trade Organization nearly 12 years ago,” the commission’s chairman, Senator Sherrod Brown, said.

“Increased trade ties have not improved working conditions or the environment and Chinese citizens still do not enjoy the freedoms of expression, assembly and religion to which they are entitled under international law,” Brown said.

In the strongest terms used to date, the report underscores the abuse of women and the draconian repressive policies that remain firmly in place in China, co-chairman of the commission, US Representative Chris Smith said.

The report said that Xi and other top Chinese leaders began their tenure by suggesting openness to reforms and limits on official power.

However, Chinese officials soon cracked down on calls for human rights and rule of law, labeling them the product of anti-China forces and targeting individuals who called for officials to disclose their assets, according to the report.

This was despite a series of predictions made by experts in Taiwan and the US over the past few years that Taiwan’s democratic society would be a good example for China to follow.

Taiwan’s democracy is an “amazing development” that will ultimately have a very significant influence on China, Hoover Institution senior fellow Larry Diamond said last year.

Only last month, David Lorenzo, associate professor at the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University, said that Taiwan’s democracy was a positive encouragement for people in China.

However, Lorenzo warned that political reform would not be easy in China because ensuring its grip on power was more important to the Chinese government.

The report said that by spring this year, it became clear that hopes that China’s new leaders would engage with, or even tolerate, public discussion on issues such as constitutionalism and anticorruption would remain “unfulfilled.”

By last month, nearly 60 individuals in China had been detained, arrested or “disappeared” following crackdowns on freedom of expression, the report said.

“When the [Chinese Communist] Party’s interests are involved, China remains very much a country ruled by the party and not by laws,” the report said.

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