The US State Department issued its annual report on human rights earlier this week -- and Taiwan came in for both praise and some criticism.
"Taiwan is a multiparty democracy. The 2000 victory of DPP presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) followed more than 50 years of rule by the KMT and marked the first transition in Taiwan's history from one political party to another," the report said.
"The police and security agencies are under effective civilian control. The police occasionally committed human rights abuses," the report added.
The report also said that Taiwan has a "dynamic, export-oriented, free-market economy" and that its more than 22 million citizens generally enjoy a high standard of living and an equitable income distribution.
However, the report commented that, although the authorities generally respected the human rights of citizens, there were problems in some areas.
"Principal problems included the abuse of detainees by police, prison overcrowding, allegations of judicial corruption, some infringements on citizens' privacy, violence and discrimination against women, child prostitution and abuse, societal discrimination against Aborigines, restrictions on workers' freedom of association and on their ability to strike, and a few instances of trafficking in women and children," the report said.
"The Chen administration has made significant progress in its efforts to stamp out corruption and vote-buying. Early in the year, it worked to ensure fair Farmer's Associations elections, investigating 330 suspected vote-buying cases. The MOJ [Ministry of Justice] also conducted a concerted campaign against vote-buying in the December legislative and local elections, indicting over 3,700 persons, including four legislative candidates and nine county magistrate candidates," the report noted.
China, however, has expressed "strong opposition" to the report's accusations of Chinese religious repression and discrimination against the country's Muslim Turkic minority.
On Tuesday Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan (孔泉) denounced the reports' claims as an "attack on China's legal system, nationalities policy and human rights situation."
The annual report on human rights is compiled by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor -- and is based on information gathered by US embassies around the world.
The reports are completed in Washington after consultation with other State Department bureaus and sources outside the department.
This year's reports for all 190 countries can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.state.gov.