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Human Rights and Rule of Law - News and Analysis

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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on the Release of the 2012 Annual Report

Congressional-Executive Commission on China
www.cecc.gov
CECC Contact: 202¨C226¨C3766

October 10, 2012

Washington, DC¡ªThe bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China today released its 2012 Annual Report on developments in human rights and rule of law in China.

"One of this year's major findings was the visible frustration and well-founded impatience the Chinese people are expressing about their own lack of basic human rights," said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the Commission, and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), Cochairman of the Commission. "Across the 19 issues of our report, we observed Chinese citizens at all levels stepping up often at great risk, to demand human rights, rule of law, fair labor practices, and accountability from their leaders."

"The daring escape of the self-taught blind activist Chen Guangcheng in April exemplified the courage of the Chinese people and the lengths they will go to secure their rights," said Smith. "The outrage across China sparked by photos of Feng Jianmei, the woman kidnapped and forced to undergo an abortion, showed how Chinese are flocking to social media to expose and criticize abusive government policies, in this case the country¡¯s repressive population control policy," Smith added.

"Chinese workers engaged in the most significant labor activity since 2010, protesting low wages and unsafe work environments that persist in large part because they lack the basic right to form independent unions," said Brown. "Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minorities protested the state's increasingly repressive policies against their culture, language, and religions¡ªwith an unprecedented and tragic 45 Tibetan self-immolations occurring this past year."

As documented in the report, demonstrators also took to the streets to protest land seizures, pollution, and attempts to impose a Beijing-backed national education policy on Hong Kong.

The report recommends that the U.S. Congress and President urge China to immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, strengthen the rule of law, enhance transparency, engage in dialogue with ethnic minorities without preconditions, and release political prisoners such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

"In an egregious miscarriage of justice, authorities this past year 'claimed' that the missing rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng violated the terms of his parole mere days before his suspended sentence was to expire," Smith said, "Gao and many other political prisoners in China languish in jails simply for advocating for and exercising their basic human rights. They are a testament to how far China must go to be a country where rule of law and international human rights are respected."

"The report shows China doing nothing to improve compliance with its WTO obligations and commercial rule of law, whether it be stopping currency manipulation or dismantling quotas, subsidies, and other unfair trading practices that favor Chinese enterprises at the expense of our workers and businesses," Brown said. "We must continue to pressure China to stop cheating and running roughshod over the laws and rules it has pledged to follow."

"China's unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation, contribute enormously to our growing trade deficit with China. The trade deficit reportedly has cost us millions of jobs, many in our manufacturing sector," Brown added.

"When the Chinese government denies Chinese workers the right to organize independent labor unions, Chinese wages stay low, and Chinese factories slight workplace safety. This places American products and workers, who can compete with anyone, at a disadvantage," Smith added.

The past year was marked by a major political scandal involving ousted Chongqing Party chief and Politburo member Bo Xilai and preparations for a once-a-decade leadership transition beginning in November.

The report observed Chinese leaders more concerned with internal Party politics than with reform. It found a "deepening disconnect" between the growing demands of the Chinese people and their government.

"On issue after issue, from revision of China's Criminal Procedure Law to the government's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and other religious groups, Chinese officials continued to err on the side of repression or symbolic half-measures rather than pursue real, meaningful reform," said Smith and Brown.

The Commission observed some potential bright spots this year, including progress on mining deaths, legal aid, and a draft mental health law that could prevent some abuse but still falls short of international standards.

Calls for much-needed reforms also continued to arise in China, including a "China 2030" report issued by the State Council's Development Research Center and the World Bank, which argued that reform of China's state-owned sector, the rule of law, and greater public participation are necessary for China's future economic development. The Commission, however, found little indication of willingness on the part of China's leaders to undertake such reforms.

The CECC's 2012 Annual Report, is the Commission's 11th since it was created by Congress in 2000. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President. In addition to its annual reports, the Commission maintains an extensive database of political prisoners in China, many of whom are cited in its reports.

All of the Commission's reporting and its Political Prisoner Database are available at www.cecc.gov.



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Source: -See Summary (2012-10-10 ) | Posted on: 2012-12-03  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=182175