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Official Opinion Urges Criminal Prosecution of Persons Linked to Self-Immolations

January 18, 2013

According to a December 3, 2012, provincial Communist Party newspaper report, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Supreme People's Court, and Ministry of Public Security issued an official opinion calling for persons officials deem to be "principal culprits" linked to a Tibetan self-immolation to face criminal prosecution for "intentional homicide." The opinion, which the report cited but did not date or make accessible, described additional activities associated with self-immolation that could be prosecuted as crimes. Implementation of the opinion could result in significant risks for persons close to a self-immolator, including relatives, friends, and colleagues, as well as Tibetans who join in expressions of sympathy or sorrow following self-immolations.

Based on a Gannan Daily report (reprinted in Gansu Daily, 3 December 12; translated in Dui Hua Human Rights Journal, 5 December 12), the "Opinion on Handling Self-Immolation Cases in Tibetan Areas in Accordance With the Law" (the Opinion), describes Tibetan self-immolations in terms stressing "evil" criminality, not as protests resulting from grievances that the government could address constructively:
    [The] recent self-immolations that have occurred in Tibetan areas are cases of significant evil that result from collusion between hostile forces inside and outside our borders whose attempts to use premeditated, organized plots to incite splittism, undermine ethnic unity, and seriously disrupt social order.
The Opinion asserts that Tibetan self-immolations are criminal acts, not ordinary suicides, because the self-immolators were not "world weary" but were motivated by separatism. On that basis, the Opinion states that acts by persons who "organize, direct, and plot [self-immolations], as well as those who actively participate in inciting, coercing, enticing, abetting, or assisting others to carry out self-immolations, will be held criminally liable for intentional homicide in accordance with [the PRC Criminal Law]." [See Criminal Law, Article 232, on intentional homicide.] The Opinion advises authorities to prosecute as crimes additional types of activity related to self-immolations, including but not limited to:
  • Preparing for a self-immolation;
  • Obstructing security officials or medical personnel at the scene of a self-immolation;
  • Creating a "serious" disturbance where a self-immolation occurred;
  • Gathering a crowd to disrupt social, public, or traffic order by carrying or viewing a self-immolator's corpse; and
  • Gathering a group to mourn or collect donations for a self-immolator.
The Commission has observed recent reports of detentions of Tibetans that may have resulted from links to a self-immolation. The reports did not provide specific information tying detentions to self-immolations, but noted that the detentions followed self-immolations. The following examples are detentions that reportedly took place on or after the December 3 publication of the Gansu Daily report on the Opinion.
  • December 3. After the December 2 self-immolation of Sangdu Kyab in Bola (Bora) township, Xiahe (Sangchu) county, Gannan (Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Gansu province, on December 3, security officials reportedly detained five Bora Monastery monks for interrogation: Gedun Gyatso, Lobsang Phagpa, Jamyang Zoepa, Jamyang Lodroe, and Jamyang Gyatso (Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, 18 December 12; Radio Free Asia, 18 December 12).
  • December 3-4. Following the December 3 self-immolation of monk Lobsang Gedun of Penag Monastery, security officials in Banma (Pema) county, Guoluo (Golog) TAP, Qinghai province, detained Washul Dortrug on December 3 and Choekyab on December 4 (Voice of America, 6 December 12).
  • December 6 (approximate). "Ten days" after the November 26 self-immolation of Gonpo Tsering in Luqu (Luchu) county, Gannan TAP, security officials detained Gonpo Tsering's father, Tashi Sonam, and his unnamed grandfather (Phayul, 27 December 12).
The Gansu Daily report did not provide a Web link to the Opinion or the date when it was issued, but it appears to coincide approximately with an unprecedented surge of self-immolations. From October 13 to December 9, a period of less than two months, the Commission observed 41 reports of Tibetan self-immolation (36 reported fatal). During the month of November, when the Communist Party 18th Party Congress took place, there were 28 reported self-immolations. In a significant shift, the profile of the self-immolators changed from a majority who were current or former monastics located in Sichuan province, to a majority who were laypersons located outside of Sichuan province. As of January 12, 2013—the date of the most recent self-immolation on which the Commission observed reports as of January 16, 2013—the total number of Tibetan self-immolations carried out as political or religious protests reached 95—82 of them reportedly fatal. As of January 12, 51 of the 95 self-immolators reportedly were laypersons; 52 of the self-immolations reportedly took place in Qinghai and Gansu provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

On December 7, 2012, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson denied that government policy toward Tibetan culture, language, and religion had any role in the self-immolations (Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States, in Chinese, 7 December 12; translated in OSC, 7 December 12). Instead, the spokesperson blamed the self-immolations on "the Dalai clique"—organizations and individuals the Party associates with the Dalai Lama. The spokesman asserted that "Tibet-related issues are not issues of ethnicity, religion, or human rights", but pertain to "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity." The Commission noted in its 2012 Annual Report:
    The Party and government have not indicated any willingness to consider Tibetan grievances in a constructive manner and to hold themselves accountable for Tibetan rejection of Chinese policies, and handled the crisis as a threat to state security and social stability instead of as a policy failure.
For more information on Tibetan self-immolations, see CECC, "Special Report: Tibetan Self-Immolation—Rising Frequency, Wider Spread, Greater Diversity, 22 August 12; CECC, "Special Report: Tibetan Monastic Self-Immolations Appear To Correlate With Increasing Repression of Freedom of Religion," 23 December 11.


Source: -See Summary (2013-01-14 ) | Posted on: 2013-09-16  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=185206

Officials Detain Xu Zhiyong Amidst a Crackdown on Individuals Calling for Greater Government Accountability

August 1, 2013

Authorities detained prominent law scholar and civic advocate Xu Zhiyong amidst a crackdown on activists, lawyers, and other Chinese citizens some have stated is the most widespread in recent years. According to reports, Xu and other individuals detained had publicly advocated for greater government accountability and transparency, specifically on issues of corruption and the disclosure of government officials' assets. The escalating crackdown has called into question the extent to which China's leaders are committed to fulfilling pledges on political and institutional reform.

On July 16, 2013, public security officials from Beijing municipality's traffic security division criminally detained prominent law scholar and civic rights advocate Xu Zhiyong on suspicion of "gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place" (Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 17 July 13; Human Rights in China (HRIC), 16 July 13). For more than a decade, Xu has been involved in rights advocacy as a legal counsel, law lecturer, and independently elected People's Congress deputy for the Haidian district of Beijing (Economic Observer, 13 November 08; China Daily, 17 December 03). Authorities reportedly refused on two separate occasions to allow Xu's lawyer, Liu Weiguo, to visit with him in detention, detaining Liu at one point for six hours, in violation of the PRC Criminal Procedure Law (art. 37), which guarantees the right of a lawyer to meet with a defendant in custody (HRIC, 22 July 13). According to human rights organizations and Chinese activists familiar with Xu's case, authorities detained Xu in connection to his anti-corruption advocacy and calls for public disclosure of government officials' assets, as well as his involvement in the "New Citizens' Movement," a loose affiliation of Chinese citizens who have advocated for social justice and rule of law reforms (CHRD,17 July 13; HRIC, 23 July 13).

Xu's detention is one of a series of actions authorities have taken against him in 2013. According to Xu's April 12, 2013, blog post, police prevented him from taking a flight to Hong Kong on April 12 to attend a legal symposium, detaining him at the Beijing International Airport and returning him to his university, the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (Xu Zhiyong: On the New Citizens’ Movement, 12 April 13, via China Digital Times, 13 May 13). Xu was subsequently informed by university officials upon his return that his salary had been suspended in March. Security officials also interrogated Xu that same day over his activism related to education equality and financial disclosure, as well as his research on black jails and encouragement of informal citizen dinners linked to the New Citizens' Movement. According to Xu's wife, Xu had been held "under informal house arrest for more than three months" prior to his July 16 detention (New York Times, 17 July 13).

Xu's detention takes place amidst a larger crackdown authorities have engaged in since March 2013 against activists, lawyers, and other citizens advocating for greater government accountability and transparency. A July 17, 2013, report by CHRD, confirmed that 26 individuals have been criminally detained as of July 18 in Beijing municipality and the provinces of Jiangxi, Hubei, and Guangdong, among whom 16 have been formally charged and arrested. According to CHRD, "more activists and lawyers [have been] criminally detained in this particular crackdown than in any other in recent years," (CHRD, 17 July 13). Human rights organizations report that a number of the individuals detained had been publically advocating for government action on issues including enforcing China's Constitution and laws, public disclosure of government officials' assets, and ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, while others had engaged in public advocacy aimed at educating citizens on the ideas of democracy and the rule of law, and encouraging civic activism. According to CHRD, many of the detained individuals are associated or have identified themselves with the New Citizens' Movement.

Chinese authorities' actions against Xu Zhiyong and other individuals advocating for greater government accountability and transparency contravene protections under China's Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantee the rights to free expression, association, and assembly. In addition, the escalating crackdown has called into question the extent to which China's leaders are committed to political and institutional reform. Following a leadership transition in the Party and government in late 2012 and early 2013, top Chinese officials have emphasized rule of law principles and pledged to strengthen anti-corruption efforts (Xinhua, 17 April 13; Guardian, 17 March 13). In a January 2013 speech addressing corruption, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping stated that those in power should "be accountable to the people and consciously accept supervision by the people," pledging to further strengthen "restraint and supervision on the use of power" (Xinhua, 22 January 13). At the same time, scholars and activists have claimed the detention of individuals like Xu Zhiyong and others who have been calling for greater government accountability contradicts official calls for reform, with some further arguing that official actions demonstrate a clear aversion to adopting institutional changes that would guarantee true accountability (ChinaFile, 18 July 13; New York Review of Books, 29 July 13).





Source: -See Summary (2013-07-30 / English) | Posted on: 2013-08-01  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=191331

Authorities Block Internet Searches and Prevent Memorial Activities in Lead-Up to 24th Anniversary of Suppression of 1989 Protests

June 4, 2013

In the lead-up to the 24th anniversary to the violent suppression of the spring 1989 citizen protests in Beijing and many other cities, this year, authorities prevented activities memorializing those who died during the protests. Authorities also harassed, kept under soft detention, restricted the movement of, or detained select rights defenders and democracy advocates, some of whom had applied to authorities to hold memorial demonstrations. This year, as in previous years, authorities censored online references to the 1989 protests.

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the violent suppression of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen citizen protests in China, during which students, workers, and others demonstrated against corruption and social and economic problems, as well as advocated for more freedoms. In the lead-up to the anniversary, authorities stepped up surveillance and harassment of rights defenders and democracy advocates. Authorities also placed people under soft detention at home, restricted their freedom of movement, detained them, or took them on a "trip" to undisclosed locations (BBC, 29 May 13; Radio Free Asia (RFA), 28 May 13; Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 30 May 13; and Dui Hua Foundation, 30 May 13).

Chinese citizens in several locations, including Guangzhou and Tianjin municipalities and Hunan province, reportedly applied to authorities for permission to hold demonstrations to memorialize those who died during the 1989 protests. Authorities reportedly denied those requests and in Guangzhou, officials questioned the applicants and administratively detained two of them (RFA, May 28; RFA 27 May 13; CHRD, May 30; Human Rights Watch, 31 May 13).

In addition, citizens and groups from inside and outside China called upon Chinese authorities to reappraise the "verdict" of the 1989 protests as a "counterrevolutionary riot" or to provide an official accounting of and compensation for those killed (Tiananmen Mothers open letter, via and translated by Human Rights in China, 31 May 13; U.S. Department of State, 31 May 13; RFA, May 27; and CHRD, 1 June 12).

This year, as in previous years, in the lead-up to the anniversary, Chinese authorities blocked online searches for references to the 1989 protests. In addition to warning people not to post references to the protests and blocking searches for "24th anniversary" and "demonstration," authorities also blocked searches for the names of the three activists questioned in Guangzhou after they applied for permission to hold a demonstration (RFA, May 28). [For information on censorship in the lead-up to the anniversary in 2012, see this CECC roundup.]

In late 2012, Chinese authorities reportedly released Jiang Yaqun, the last person charged with a "counterrevolutionary" crime stemming from the June 4 Tiananmen protests, who reportedly now is elderly, weak, and may be suffering from Alzheimer's (Dui Hua, May 30).

In the years following the violent suppression of the 1989 citizen protests, Chinese authorities reportedly sentenced 1,602 people for their activities during the period of the "two disturbances," i.e., the protests in Beijing and the protests outside of Beijing that took place in numerous cities in the spring of 1989 (Dui Hua, May 30).

In recent years, Chinese officials have continued to impose harsh sentences on citizens who have peacefully advocated for democracy, including Liu Xiaobo (11 years), Chen Xi (10 years), Zhu Yufu (7 years), Li Tie (10 years), Liu Xianbin (10 years), Chen Wei (9 years), Guo Quan (10 years), and Xie Changfa (13 years).

For more information on official actions against democracy advocates see the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp. 126-127) and the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 160-161).

Source: -See Summary (2013-06-03 ) | Posted on: 2013-06-04  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=189553

Statement of CECC Chair, Senator Sherrod Brown and Cochair, Representative Christopher Smith on the 24th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Crackdown

Congressional-Executive Commission on China

www.cecc.gov


June 4, 2013

(Washington, DC)—On the 24th anniversary of the crackdown on demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and across China, the chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China expressed solidarity with the victims of that tragedy and urged the Chinese government to take concrete steps on human rights and the rule of law.

"For too long, China has denied its citizens the basic freedoms they sought 24 years ago at Tiananmen Square. Chinese President Xi Jinping says he is for reform, the rule of law, and an end to corruption. But time and again, these words have proven empty," said Senator Sherrod Brown, CECC chair. "For China to be taken seriously as a responsible nation, President Xi must take concrete steps to end the repression of workers, Uyghurs, Tibetans, consumer rights advocates, political activists, house churches, Falun Gong practitioners, and journalists, and provide China's citizens with an honest and open accounting of the tragic events of 24 years ago."

"The Chinese government not only continues to inflict unspeakable pain and suffering on its own people, but the coverup of the Tiananmen massacre is without precedent in modern history. Even though journalists and live television and radio documented the massacre, the Chinese Communist Party line continues to deny, obfuscate and threaten," said Representative Chris Smith, CECC cochair. "I urge President Xi Jinping to reverse course and put China on a clear path toward respect of human rights and the rule of law and to deal with the legacy of the Tiananmen crackdown with transparency and justice."

The Commission has extensively documented China's compliance and noncompliance with international human rights standards and the rule of law. China has not ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it signed in 1998, and continues to deny its citizens the basic freedoms of expression, religion, and assembly found in the ICCPR. In recent years, the Commission has documented China's noncompliance with the rule of law in violating its World Trade Organization obligations and in its handling of the case of the blind activist Chen Guangcheng. Recently, the Commission has examined the prospects of reforming China's reeducation through labor system and how the denial of basic rights impacts Chinese citizens' ability to respond to food safety, public health, and environmental threats.

According to the Commission's political prisoner database and based on information that is publicly available, there are currently 1,295 Chinese citizens known or believed to be detained or imprisoned for exercising his or her human rights under international law. These include Nurmemet Yasin, the Uyghur writer imprisoned for a short story; Chen Kegui, the jailed nephew of Chen Guangcheng who is reportedly not receiving proper medical treatment for his acute appendicitis; Wang Zhiwen, the Falun Gong practitioner jailed for peaceful protest; Dondrub Wangchen, the Tibetan filmmaker detained after completing a documentary on the plight of Tibetans; Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner; Zhu Yufu, the democracy advocate who is reportedly suffering ill-treatment in prison and whose family members have been harassed; and Peng Ming, the imprisoned democracy activist whose health has reportedly deteriorated.

For more information, please visit the Commission's Web site at www.cecc.gov.




###


Source: -See Summary (2013-06-04 ) | Posted on: 2013-06-04  
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Officials Give Environmentalist Liu Futang a Suspended Three-Year Sentence for Exposés

December 14, 2012

Former forestry official and environmentalist, Liu Futang received a three-year suspended sentence and a fine for allegedly engaging in "illegal business activities" linked to his self-publication of environmental exposés that may have embarrassed local government leaders.

On December 5, 2012, the Longhua District People's Court in Haikou city, Hainan province, imposed a three-year suspended sentence and a 17,000 yuan (US$2,727) fine on Liu Futang, a retired forestry official and environmentalist, for allegedly engaging in "illegal business activities" (Chinadialogue, 5 December 12; Caixin journalist's blog entry, 11 October 12). Liu's sentencing came nearly two months after his trial on October 11 (Southern People Weekly, reprinted in Chinadialogue, 31 October 12). Officials charged that Liu privately printed and sold or gave away books on environmental issues without obtaining permission to publish the books from the appropriate government department (SW, 16 October 12). Liu, who was named a winner of the 2012 China Environmental Press Awards for his microblog exposés (Chinadialogue, 5 December 12), admitted he had not obtained mainland publication numbers for the books, which were based on his many years in environmental protection work (SW, 16 October 12). Liu reportedly tried to get his book, "Speaking the Truth," published in 2009, but three Chinese publishing companies said the book's contents were "too sensitive." Liu said he believed he had no choice but to obtain a publication number from Hong Kong (Southern People Weekly, reprinted in Chinadialogue, 31 October 12).

The indictment against Liu reportedly alleged that he had illegally earned over 78,000 yuan (US$12,500) in profit for the books (Caixin journalist’s blog entry, 11 October 12). Liu argued that he gave away the books to government officials and environmentalists without intending to earn a profit, pointing out that he spent more than 200,000 yuan (US$32,100) of his own money on the books. Three witnesses at the trial said that Liu sent them a large number of his books and they voluntarily sent him contributions, not to pay for the books, but to support his environmental work (SW, 16 October 12). Procuratorate officials reportedly argued that a business does not need to be profitable to qualify as an illegal business. Liu's lawyer argued there was insufficient evidence to prove his actions disrupted market order, therefore his actions do not constitute a criminal offense (Southern People Weekly, reprinted in Chinadialogue, 31 October 12).

Questionable Legal Procedures and Calls for Liu’s Release
News reports highlighted procedural problems associated with Liu's detention and trial. One report noted a Chinese lawyer's comment that the exchange of evidence in court took place behind closed doors, indicating the court did not want to handle the case transparently (South China Morning Post, 12 October 12). Another report stated that authorities prohibited Liu’s relatives from seeing him prior to the trial (Guardian, 11 October 12). No one had seen Liu since authorities took him from the hospital in July 2012 (Southern People Weekly, reprinted in Chinadialogue, 31 October 12).

Liu's case received broad media attention and reportedly was closely followed in environmental and legal circles (Chinadialogue, 5 December 12; Global Times, 12 October 12). In addition, people took action in support of Liu:
  • Hundreds of people reportedly contacted Liu's lawyer expressing support for Liu, and a statement written by Liu's lawyer calling for a fair trial and protection of the freedom of speech garnered an unspecified number of online signatures (Chinadialogue, 5 December 12).
  • In mid-October, nearly 100 concerned citizens and groups signed an open letter urging the district court in Haikou to consider Liu Futang's contributions to the protection of the Hainan natural environment, to find Liu not guilty, and to drop the "unreasonable" charges against him (copy of open letter on Liu Hongqiao's blog, 16 October 12).
Liu's Environmental Advocacy and Detention
Liu Futang, who was also a former Hainan province People's Political Consultative Conference (PPCC) member, had a long history of environmental work and activism, including exposing official corruption linked to illegal logging and helping to free two villagers detained for trying to prevent illegal logging. (For more information on these and other examples of Liu's work, see the October 31 reprinted Southern People Weekly article and the October 11 Caixin journalist's blog.) In the spring of 2012, Liu reportedly posted critical comments about the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Yinggehai township, Hainan province (Radio Free Asia (RFA), 16 August 12). In March and April 2012, thousands of people demonstrated against the proposed plant (RFA, 12 April 12 and 11 March 12). Officials warned him about his postings (Chinadialogue, 5 December 12), and two months after these large-scale protests, authorities blocked two of Liu's microblog sites (Southern People Weekly, reprinted in Chinadialogue, 31 October 12). In May 2012, Liu reportedly included his articles and microblog postings about the Yinggehai power plant in a book, titled "Hainan Tears 2," which he then published at his own expense (Chinadialogue, 5 December 12). On July 20, Haikou city public security officials detained Liu on the charge of "illegal business activities," while he was at a hospital in Haikou receiving treatment for high blood pressure and diabetes, and the Longhua district procuratorate indicted Liu on September 19 (Caixin journalist's blog, 11 October 12). Authorities held him in the Haikou Judicial Hospital until his trial on October 11, 2012 (Southern People Weekly, reprinted in Chinadialogue (Chinese), 31 October 12).

Government Monopoly on Information
The crime of "illegally operating a business" (Article 225 of the Criminal Law) has been used by officials in the past to selectively punish those who publish materials which officials consider sensitive. Authorities detained the environmental protection advocate Xie Chaoping, for example, for publishing a magazine insert "The Great Relocation (Da Qianzou)," which traces problems related to the Sanmenxia hydroelectric dam relocation programs. (For more information about Xie Chaoping's case and other cases, see this December 10, 2010, CECC analysis.) China's licensing scheme for publishing prevents citizens from publishing through anyone but a government-licensed publisher. The government requires a publication to have a unique serial number, the allotment of which the government controls. These restrictions force citizens who wish to publish information that may implicate government officials to refrain from doing so or to risk punishment for publishing without government permission.

For more information on environmental issues and activism, see Section II—The Environment in the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp.114–119). For more information on the abuse of criminal law provisions in freedom of expression cases, see Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp. 49–58), and for more information on how the Chinese government uses publishing regulations to restrict free expression, see Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 65–66).

Source: -See Summary (2012-12-10 ) | Posted on: 2013-05-29  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=184369

Soil Contamination Data Remains a State Secret Leaving Citizens Uninformed About Potential Pollution Hazards

May 21, 2013

Chinese officials completed a soil contamination survey in 2010, but have yet to disclose to the public the results from that survey. In January 2013, a Chinese citizen requested those results through formal open government information request procedures but environmental authorities refused to release the contamination survey data on the basis that it was a "state secret." Environmental officials reportedly could not release the data without approval from the State Council. The citizen filed an administrative reconsideration request to appeal the outcome, but environmental authorities upheld their original decision.

Chinese officials reportedly have refused to disclose information on soil contamination surveyed during a four-year national project completed in 2010 on the grounds that the survey data is a "state secret" (Dong Zhengwei's Sina blog, 25 February 13) (Dong's blog). Dong Zhengwei, a Beijing-based environmental attorney, submitted a multi-question open government information (OGI) request to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) on January 30, 2013, (Dong's blog, 2 February 13). On February 20, 2013, the MEP responded to Dong's request by providing some of the information he applied for, but it did not provide soil pollution data from the survey, as that data was designated as a "state secret" (Dong's blog, February 25, PDF document). The refusal prompted some backlash from even state-run media (Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report blog, 27 February 13). Previously, the MEP reportedly told the media several times that it could not release the survey data without State Council approval (Dong's February 25 blog post; China Economic Network via China Transparency, 3 February 13). Dong filed an administrative reconsideration request on February 26, 2013, asking that the MEP reconsider its decision and he received the Ministry's response on May 7. The Ministry upheld its previous decision not to release the information, but Dong reported the Ministry acknowledged that the survey data should be made public (Dong's blog, 27 February 13; 9 May 13).

Ministry Provides Some Information, Holds Back Soil Contamination Data
Dong requested general information about soil contamination across the country, but authorities denied his request for reasons of "stability" and "international image." The day after Dong first submitted his initial OGI application, the MEP required that he submit separate OGI requests for each of his two questions: (1) Data on pollution of agricultural land, grasslands, watersheds, as well as data on any other soil contamination problems; and (2) information about the causes of soil pollution and related preventative measures and information on the methods and basis for the survey (Dong's blog, February 2). Dong reported that the Ministry's response consisted of 22 pages of information and 20 pages of appendices. In its response, the MEP provided Dong with the 2006 notice it issued about the survey, which included some details about the reasons for the survey, its objectives, arrangements, and costs. The MEP also provided him with some material about the main causes and sources of soil pollution, as well as information about soil pollution prevention and control measures. It did not, however, provide soil pollution data from the national survey (Dong's blog, February 25). The Ministry cited the Regulations on Open Government Information, Article 14, as the basis for not disclosing the survey data. Article 14 states that "[a]dministrative agencies may not disclose government information that involves state secrets, commercial secrets or individual privacy." Chinese authorities passed regulations authorizing them to classify as secret environmental information that they believe will affect "social stability" or "create an unfavorable impression of China abroad." (Excerpts from Provisions on the Scope of State Secrets in Environmental Protection Work, as translated by Human Rights in China, 12 June 07, p. 174).

Limits to Citizen Access to Information
Dong publicly argued that authorities should disclose the information. Dong pointed out that on June 5, 2012, the deputy minister of MEP said that the results of the survey would be made public at an appropriate time (China Economic Network, February 3; Dong's February 27 blog). Dong also noted in the same blog post that according to the Regulations on Open Government Information, administrative agencies should be proactive in making public "information that involves the vital interests of citizens, legal persons or other organization" and should "emphasize disclosure of the following government information. ...[i]nformation on the supervision and inspection of environmental protection, public health..." (Regulations on Open Government Information, arts. 9, 10). Dong told a reporter that "[t]he environmental ministry has been releasing real-time information about air pollution even though the air in Beijing was so bad last month (January 2013). In contrast, soil pollution is a 'state secret.' Does this suggest that the land is contaminated much worse than the air?" (Guardian, 27 March 13). While authorities have not disclosed the extent and degree of soil contamination found through the survey, the Guardian noted official 2006 figures indicated that one-tenth of China's farmland was affected by soil pollution. The full implications for food safety are unclear, although in one recent case linking food safety and soil contamination, Guangzhou authorities reportedly revealed that over 44 percent of the limited number of rice or rice products recently tested contained above standard levels of cadmium (International Herald Tribune, 20 May 13; Economic Information, 20 May 13).

For more information on the Chinese government's role in pollution monitoring, see this CECC analysis, "State Monopoly of Environmental Quality Monitoring and Reporting: State Secrets and Environmental Protection" (21 August 12). For more information on transparency in the environmental sector, see Section II—The Environment (pp. 117–118) in the CECC 2012 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2013-05-17 / Free) | Posted on: 2013-05-28  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=189158

State Monopoly of Environmental Quality Monitoring and Reporting: State Secrets and Environmental Protection

August 21, 2012

Chinese authorities appear posed to strengthen barriers, through revisions to monitoring regulations, to non-governmental efforts to independently monitor and report on environmental quality. This development along with the June 2012 official public rebuke of U.S. officials for U.S. monitoring and reporting of PM2.5 air pollutants highlight official control over environmental quality information and suggest that such information is sensitive. Chinese authorities have cited the need for quality control over monitoring data; officials, however, also consider some environmental data as "secret."

Independent PM2.5 Monitoring Activities and Environmental Transparency Advocacy
Since at least the fall of 2011, in some locations, individuals and groups have used portable equipment to monitor PM2.5 levels locally (Xinhua, 1 March 12; Associated Press via Yahoo!, 8 December 11; and China Net, 20 June 12), but some of those engaged in the monitoring were unclear if these actions were permissible by law, according to a December 19, 2011, Legal Daily article. PM2.5 is particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller and is associated with a variety of health problems (U.S. EPA, undated). Citizen monitoring activities came amid some doubts about the veracity of official air quality reports, at least in Beijing (Caixin, 6 December 11; China Economic Net, 9 December 11; USA Today, 26 December 11; and Agence France-Presse via Google, 30 November 11). Independent monitoring activities also came amid citizen advocacy for greater official transparency related to PM2.5 data, including open government information requests (Wall Street Journal, 8 November 11; Xinhua, 7 December 11; Southern Daily, 22 November 11). Advocacy efforts largely came after officials had announced in September 2011 that they planned to initiate PM2.5 monitoring and reporting pilot projects (Chinadialogue, 19 October 11). Since January 2012, several cities have begun to monitor and publicize PM2.5 levels, including Beijing (Beijing Review, 16 February 12), Guangzhou, and Hong Kong (Wall Street Journal, 9 March 12). The government said 74 cities would be required to release PM2.5 data to the public by year's end (Caixin, 2 August 12).

Legality of Independent Environmental Quality Monitoring Activities
While officials reportedly made some changes to pending draft revisions of environmental quality monitoring regulations, a report indicates environmental groups remain uncertain about the legality of independent monitoring activities (Beijing Evening News, 16 July 12). A Ministry of Environmental Protection official reportedly said the Environmental Monitoring Management Regulations (Draft for Comment) (2009) (2009 Draft Monitoring Regulations), which had undergone review by select government agencies since 2009, had been sent to the State Council Legal Affairs Office for review (Beijing Times article via the Ministry of Environmental Protection 17 July 12). A July 17 21st Century Business Herald article quoted an environmental official who said the current draft of the regulations "does not restrict other work units and individuals from monitoring environmental quality." He said the recent revisions do, however, stipulate prior approval would be needed to provide the monitoring data on "public platforms." The August 2 Caixin article, however, reported concern among non-government environmental organizations about even purchasing environmental monitoring equipment for fear of prosecution. Article 68 of the revisions to the 2009 Draft Monitoring Regulations stipulate that a government-approved organization should check the suitability of monitoring equipment and only then can it be used to monitor environmental quality.

China's Rebuke of U.S. Monitoring and Reporting on PM2.5
This discussion of independent citizen environmental monitoring activities comes on the heels of an official Chinese rebuke in early June 2012, of U.S. officials for U.S. monitoring and Twitter reporting of PM2.5 gathered by equipment within embassy and consulate compounds. In mid-May, the U.S. consulate in Shanghai began monitoring PM2.5 in the area surrounding its offices (China Daily, 1 June 12), which follows years of monitoring by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which began in 2008 (Wall Street Journal, 5 June 12). During an Earth Day (June 5) press conference on national environmental quality, Vice Minister Wu Xiaoqing of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said, "we hope that every foreign embassy [will] respect relevant Chinese laws and regulations, and cease publishing unrepresentative air quality information" (People's Daily, 5 June 12). He also said the U.S. monitoring was not "rigorous" or to "standard," and that foreign diplomats "cannot interfere in internal affairs." He indicated that Chinese governmental departments are responsible for China's environmental monitoring system, seeming to imply that no other organizations may conduct monitoring. On June 6, in a regular press briefing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Li Weimin reiterated similar accusations (Foreign Ministry, 7 June 12). He also claimed that embassy/consulate environmental monitoring and reporting did not comply with articles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, Mark Toner, discussed the Chinese accusations in response to a U.S. reporter's questions during regular press briefings on June 5 and June 6. He said that the United States did not believe the PM2.5 reports to be a violation of the Vienna Conventions or to constitute interference in China's internal affairs. Toner further noted that the United States had acknowledged the data was from a single monitor, saying "this is just information that we provide to the American community so that they can make decisions based on safety of outdoor activities." In the June 6 press conference, Toner said the United States would continue to monitor PM2.5 (within embassy/consulate grounds).

Revisions to Monitoring Regulations: Government Strengthens Monopoly Over Information
Revisions to the 2009 Draft Monitoring Regulations, made available to select organizations for review in 2009, are ongoing and articles contained in the draft for comment outline specific restrictions on environmental quality monitoring and clarify punishments for noncompliance (including for unauthorized monitoring and reporting). When passed, the draft revisions will replace the National Environmental Monitoring Management Regulations issued July 12, 1983.
  • Article 4 stipulates that environmental departments at the county-level and above are responsible for managing environmental monitoring work within their respective administrative areas. (The 1983 version had analogous stipulations, Articles 3-4). Article 82 stipulates that the same organizations are responsible for disclosing environmental monitoring information.
  • Article 9 stipulates that foreign groups and individuals or Chinese groups or individuals cooperating with foreign entities on scientific research work, must obtain permission from environmental departments prior to engaging in monitoring activities. These organizations or individuals must adhere to relevant provisions of Chinese laws and administrative regulations, and their activities cannot "involve state secrets" or "harm the interests of the state." (Article 21 of the 1983 version simply stipulates that approval must be obtained to provide the "outside world" with data, materials, and results.)
  • Article 81 states: "no work unit or individual may make public in any form information related to the monitoring of environmental quality without approval." (Article 21 of the 1983 version stated: "monitoring data, materials, results, are all property of the nation, no individual has exclusive rights. No individual and work unit may use and publish monitoring data and materials that have not been formally published, without permission of the responsible department.")
  • The draft revisions will contain specific monetary and other punishments for individuals and organizations that do not adhere to the provisions of the regulations, including individuals without "credentials" who engage in environmental monitoring (Articles 83-95). Authorities may fine foreign organizations, individuals, and those working on cooperative research with foreign organizations that do not obtain prior permission to conduct environmental monitoring, and will confiscate their monitoring data, materials, and equipment (Article 92). (The 1983 version did not stipulate specific punishments.)
Citizen Suggestions Regarding the 2009 Draft Revisions
In December 2011, 21 Chinese non-governmental organizations reportedly submitted 8 suggestions to authorities regarding the 2009 Draft Monitoring Regulations suggesting that restrictions on environmental monitoring by various groups be further clarified and that provisions should emphasize the link between environmental quality and citizens' health, according to the February 19 Legal Daily article. They also urged greater attention to citizens' rights to access environmental quality information and suggested that officials should remove provisions detrimental to public participation and supervision, according to the same article.

State Secrets and Environmental Data
While Chinese officials may want to control the quality of environmental quality data that is made public; they also still consider some environmental information as "secret." At least part of one environmental open government request apparently was denied on the basis that the data requested was considered "secret." (Anhui People's Government Open Government Information Net, 20 October 10). As alluded to in the response posted online to the information request, the 2004 "Environmental Protection Work State Secrets Catalog" contained in the "Provisions on the Scope of State Secrets in Environmental Protection Work" appears to still be in force, as of October 2010 (Hubei Environmental Protection Portal, 30 September 10). CECC staff was unable to locate a copy of the 2004 version of the provisions online, although excerpts from the provisions are available via Human Rights in China, 12 June 2007, p. 174. A previous version was found here (Environmental Protection Bureau, Shixing County, Guangdong province).

For more information on transparency in the environmental sector, see Section II—The Environment in the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 145-146).

Source: -See Summary (2012-07-02 / Free) | Posted on: 2013-05-17  
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Anti-Discrimination NGO Wins Lawsuit Against Hotel in "Stability Maintenance" Case

May 3, 2013

Justice for All, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works on anti-discrimination legal advocacy, won a legal case in March 2013 against a hotel that had canceled its reservation of hotel facilities for a legal workshop. Local police acknowledged that they had demanded the cancellation because of a "stability maintenance" order. In past years, the Commission has observed similar measures linked to "stability maintenance" taken against civil society organizations, but this appears to be the first case of a lawsuit successfully filed by an NGO for cancellation of an activity with the court decision in its favor.


Hotel Cancels NGO Reservation for Legal Workshop

In a March 18, 2013, decision (via Human Rights in China (HRIC), 1 April 13), a district court in Suzhou ordered Motel 168 in Suzhou municipality, Jiangsu province, to compensate Justice for All (Tianxiagong) for breach of contract (Caixin (CX), 25 March 13). Justice for All is a public interest NGO in Nanjing that works on anti-discrimination advocacy in the areas of disability, gender, and public health rights, and is known for having provided legal counsel to the plaintiff in the first-ever instance of a plaintiff being awarded compensation in an HIV-related employment discrimination case (CX, 25 March 13; Radio Free Asia (RFA), 24 January 13). In November 2012, it filed a civil complaint (via HRIC) against Motel 168 for canceling its reservation of hotel facilities to hold a lawyers' workshop in April 2012 (CX, 25 March 13; RFA, 26 February 13). At the time of the cancellation, the hotel informed Justice for All that local government agencies requisitioned the hotel facilities (RFA, 26 February 13). Court documents indicate, however, that the cancellation was due to "stability maintenance" (weiwen) operations, whereby local police informed the hotel that holding the workshop would pose a "serious political problem" during the Chinese May 1st holiday period and directed the hotel to cancel the reservation (CX, 25 March 13; RFA, 26 February 13).

"Stability Maintenance" as a Means of Harassing Civil Society Organizations

According to Caixin Media, civil society organizations like Justice For All frequently face police interference under the guise of "stability maintenance" when they hold activities (CX, 25 March 13). The record of the court proceedings in Justice for All's case illustrates how authorities implement "stability maintenance" directives. In court testimony, the deputy director from the local police station in Suzhou involved in the cancellation stated, "On April 29, 2012, or thereabouts, our police station received verbal notification from a relevant senior department that during the May 1st period, stability maintenance work required that hotels in our jurisdiction not hold any meetings or gatherings . . . because of this, we verbally requested that the [hotel] terminate the activity"(CX, 25 March 13). In its defense statement (via HRIC), the hotel argued that since the cancellation of Justice for All's contract was in response to the "government and police's request," the urgent "stability maintenance" notification fell within the contract's definition of an unanticipated circumstance ("force majeure"), releasing it from liability. The court did not accept this claim and ordered the hotel to pay damages and return the deposit in the amount of 21,750 RMB (USD $3,463) and 5,000 RMB (USD $796), respectively, based on Articles 97, 107, 114(1), and 116 of the PRC Contract Law. A law professor at University of Hong Kong Law School commented in Caixin media's Century Weekly that the police's verbal notification of "stability maintenance" was particularly problematic because under similar circumstances, "any administrative department official's 'verbal notification'" could become grounds for denying liability in a breach of contract case (CX, Century Weekly, via Justice for All Web site, 8 April 13).

An Atypical Legal Outcome in a "Sensitive" Case

Some commentators have hailed Justice for All's win as a historic development for civil society (Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 26 March 13). A U.S. legal expert on China expressed surprise that the court "not only took the case, but found for the plaintiffs" (Chinese Law Prof Blog, 29 March 13). The court's decision reportedly even surprised the lawyer representing Justice for All in the case, who noted that "[i]n general, public security's place in the system is higher than courts, they have greater power" (Sina Blog Post, 4 April 13). The court, nevertheless, did not order the hotel to publicly apologize, as had been requested by Justice for All in its civil complaint, deeming it to be outside the scope of China's Contract Law. The impact of this ruling on China's practice of "stability maintenance" remains to be seen. Likewise, its impact on the willingness of courts to exercise judicial discretion in so-called "sensitive" cases is unknown. The case, however, well exemplifies litigation-based legal strategies now used by civil society organizations in China to "challenge the state's agents" (Wilson, 2012).

Background on "Stability Maintenance"

For decades "maintaining stability" has been tied to public security and other actions against perceived threats to social "harmony" (Legal Daily, 1 March 11) and more recently to "social management" policies (People's Daily, 25 October 07). Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) has detailed numerous examples of repressive "stability maintenance" actions, particularly during "sensitive" political periods and in relation to groups perceived as "sensitive" (CHRD, Annual Reports for 2011 and 2012).

For more information on civil society developments in China, see the CECC 2012 Annual Report, Part III—Civil Society, pp. 120–124; and for more information on "stability maintenance" and "social management," see the CECC 2012 Annual Report, Part III—Institutions of Democratic Governance, pp. 125–126.




Source: -See Summary (2013-04-25 ) | Posted on: 2013-05-03  
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Authorities Deny Chen Kegui Urgent Medical Treatment and Medical Parole; Harassment and Intimidation of Family Continues

May 2, 2013

According to April 2013 reports, authorities notified the family of Chen Kegui, nephew of prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, that he is suffering from acute appendicitis while in prison. Prison officials reportedly denied his family's appeal to release Chen Kegui on medical parole and refused to transfer him to a hospital, claiming they will make their own arrangements for his treatment. Meanwhile, the family reports that they have received "serious threats" against their safety while at home in Dongshigu village, Linyi city, Shandong province.

Chen Kegui Denied Appropriate Medical Treatment, Medical Parole

According to BBC (30 April 13), Chen Kegui, who is currently serving a three year, three month criminal sentence in Linyi prison on charges which legal experts refute, was diagnosed with appendicitis on April 24, 2013. On April 29, prison authorities notified Chen's father Chen Guangfu, that his appendicitis had become acute, according to the report. Chen Guangfu told BBC that he applied for medical parole for his son, but that the prison refused to accept their application. Medical personnel at the prison reportedly told Chen Guangfu that they are treating Chen Kegui's appendicitis with antibiotics and that the infection has caused a cyst (Associated Press, via Washington Post, 29 April 13). Chen Guangfu expressed further concern in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) on April 30 that his son's appendix could burst—which would be life-threatening—and that he should be transferred to a hospital for treatment (AFP, via Global Post, 30 April 13). According to an April 30 Guardian report, Chen Guangfu saw Chen Kegui on April 25 for a regular monthly visit, but when he attempted to visit again on April 29, the prison refused to grant him access.

Jared Genser, founder of advocacy organization Freedom Now and international pro bono counsel for several Chinese prisoners of conscience including Chen Kegui, appealed in writing to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture on April 29, urging immediate action on behalf of Chen Kegui and his family. In the letter, Genser expressed concern that, "the denial of adequate medical treatment in this case presents an urgent threat to [Chen Kegui's] wellbeing" (Freedom Now, 29 April 13).

Harassment of Chen Family Increases

Reports indicate that Chen Kegui's family members have learned of his deteriorated medical condition during a time when they were already facing heightened surveillance, harassment, and intimidation at home in Dongshigu village. According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) (21 April 13; English translation via ChinaAid, 23 April 13), on April 18, officials in Dongshigu village reportedly beat a Beijing artist and three others who were visiting the former home of Chen Guangcheng. On that evening and for at least 12 nights since, security personnel have attacked Chen Guangfu's home with rocks, beer bottles, and dead poultry, according to Chen Guangfu and Chen Guangcheng (South China Morning Post, 1 May 13 (subscription required)). According to the CHRD report, unidentified people have also placed fake money at the gate of Chen Guangfu's home. CHRD notes that dead birds and fake money are used as serious curses or death threats according to local custom. Also according to CHRD, on April 19, "character posters" were posted throughout the village, slandering and threatening Chen Guangfu and his family. According to the New York Times (24 April 13), on April 24, Yinan county prosecutors summoned Chen Guangfu's wife, Ren Zongju, and his brother, Chen Guangjun, for questioning on allegations that they had harbored a criminal when they helped Chen Kegui prior to his arrest. According to Radio Free Asia (29 April 13), authorities dropped the charges after Chen Guangfu discussed the case with overseas journalists and after Beijing-based rights defense lawyers Li Fangping and Zhang Jianqin, whom the family had hired, arrived in Linyi to defend Ren Zongju and Chen Guangjun. These incidents follow other recent threats, abuse, and harassment, which officials have used to maintain control over Chen Kegui and his family.

Background on Chen Kegui

On November 30, 2012, the Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, tried and sentenced Chen Kegui to three years and three months in prison for "intentional injury." The charges were in connection to Chen Kegui's wielding of knives during a midnight raid on his home by local officials in April 2012 following the escape of his uncle Chen Guangcheng from illegal home confinement. According to supporters, Chen Kegui's case has been marred by procedural violations since authorities detained him in May 2012.

The CECC chairmen issued a statement regarding Chen Kegui's trial and sentencing on November 30, 2012, specifically raising concerns about Chen's condition in prison, calling on authorities to guarantee his safety and protect his rights, and urging the Chinese government to fulfill its promises to investigate abuses against Chen Guangcheng and his family.

Previous coverage on Chen Kegui's case as well as previous coverage on Chen Guangcheng's case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy.


Source: -See Summary (2013-04-30 ) | Posted on: 2013-05-02  
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Authorities Deny Medical Treatment to Zhu Yufu; Condition Serious

April 16, 2013

Chinese officials reportedly have denied jailed democracy advocate Zhu Yufu access to medication, medical care, and adequate nutrition. According to his family members, his condition in prison has become critical. Zhu is serving a seven-year prison term for "inciting subversion of state power" in connection with his democracy activism, his writings, and a poem he penned and posted on the Internet around the time of online calls for "Jasmine" protest rallies in the spring of 2011. Authorities reportedly also have been harassing his family members, forcing them to lose their jobs, and threatening them not to talk about Zhu's prison conditions.

Zhu's Health is Critical, Officials Deny Him Medical Treatment
As of early April 2013, authorities reportedly continue to deny jailed democracy activist Zhu Yufu access to his medication, medical care, and adequate nutrition. In addition, he reportedly has been subject to abuse in prison (Radio Free Asia (RFA), 12 March 13). Zhu's physical and mental conditions are deteriorating, as he reportedly suffers from coronary heart disease, severe high blood pressure, cerebral arteriosclerosis, a lumbar disc hernia, high cholesterol, a coronary artery tumor, and other ailments. (China Aid Association (CAA), Bob Fu testimony, 8 April 13). Officials reportedly denied Zhu his medication, saying his disease was not life-threatening and refused him certain meals to which other prisoners have access. Zhu, 60 years old, is unable to walk without supporting himself against a wall. Despite his physical condition, prison authorities reportedly continue to force him to engage in physical labor. His family's multiple requests for medical care and medical parole and for lighter work assignments have been denied (CAA, April 8; RFA March 12).

Authorities Harass Family Members
Authorities reportedly have harassed Zhu Yufu's family members and forced them to lose or quit their jobs on numerous occasions. In addition, while prison officials have allowed some family visits, they have at times prohibited Zhu from sending or receiving phone calls or mail from his family members (CAA, April 8). According to Pastor Fu's testimony, after Zhu's detention, authorities reportedly put Zhu's brother, Zhu Qiaofu under surveillance and forced him to quit his job. At the end of 2012, after his sister, Zhu Xiaoyan spoke with the foreign media about the abuse Zhu faced in prison, authorities detained her for three days, after which her employer reportedly forced her to quit her job. Zhu's family members have been threatened not to disclose details regarding Zhu's condition and his abuse in prison. According to the March 12 RFA article, authorities threatened to take away his family's visitation privileges, for seeking support for Zhu while they were in America.

Zhu Yufu's Case History
According to China HumanRights Defenders (12 April 11, and 16 May 12); RFA (17 January 12 and 12 March 13); New York Times (17 January 12); and CAA (10 February 12 and 14 February 12), on March 5, 2011, public security bureau officials in Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, detained Zhu on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power." Authorities formally arrested him on April 11 the same year. On February 10, 2012, the Hangzhou city Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to seven years in prison and three years deprivation of political rights. Zhu's sentencing document cited as evidence his activities in the name of the China Democracy Party; his fundraising activities for democracy advocates; articles he wrote, which were posted on overseas Web sites that "incited hostility" toward and "slandered" China's state power; and three Internet postings, including a poem, that "incited" people to "subvert state power" around the time of online calls for "Jasmine" protest rallies. An English version of the poem, entitled "It's Time" is available from Human Rights in China (31 January 12). Zhu appealed the decision and lost on May 7, 2012, and authorities transferred him to Zhejiang Provincial No. 4 Prison on May 10. Previously, authorities sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment in 1999 for his role in founding a branch of the China Democracy Party (New York Times, January 17) and to two years’ imprisonment in 2007 for "obstructing official business" (Human Rights in China, 31 March 08 and January 31, 2012).

For additional information about Zhu's case, see the following CECC analyses:
  1. "Zhu Yufu Case: Application of Inciting Subversion Provisions Fell Short of International Standards" (23 March 12).

  2. "Authorities Crack Down on Rights Defenders, Lawyers, Artists, Bloggers" (3 May 11).
For more information on official actions against democracy advocates and China's institutions of democratic governance see the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp. 125–132) and the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 158–169).

Source: -See Summary (2013-04-11 ) | Posted on: 2013-04-16  
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Authorities Issue New Education Policies for Children of Migrant Workers

April 2, 2013

In December 2012, authorities in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Guangdong province issued new policies expanding access to education for the children of migrant workers. While these policies suggest some progress in overcoming problems of educational inequality, significant barriers remain, including limited opportunities for migrant children to take the national college entrance examination. Chinese authorities' continued implementation of the household registration system, which assigns certain social benefits and rights to Chinese citizens based on their officially registered household residence rather than their actual place of residence, has greatly contributed to educational inequality.

Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong Issue New Policies

In December 2012, authorities in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Guangdong province issued new policies expanding access to education for the children of migrant workers and allowing them to take the national college entrance examination (NCEE) in these areas provided that they meet certain requirements. The schedule for implementation of the policies varies for Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong, with each locality implementing their policy in stages beginning in 2013. Announcement of the policies followed an opinion jointly issued in August 2012 by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security emphasizing educational advancement for migrant children, with a particular focus on allowing them to take educational entrance examinations in places where they reside but lack official household registration. In November 2012, during a speech given at an MOE Party Study Session, Vice Minister Du Yubo announced that advancing such policies was a high priority for the MOE ahead of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress in 2013.

Requirements for Migrants Workers and Their Children

While a majority of provincial and municipal authorities have sought to address public calls to allow the children of migrant workers to take the NCEE locally, Vice Minister Du reportedly has said that the problem of having migrant students take the NCEE in places where they reside but lack official household registration was particularly acute in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Guangdong province. Although the policies issued in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong expand educational access for children of migrant workers, the threshold remains high in establishing eligibility for such children to take the NCEE in these locations. Requirements include the following:
  • Parents must have stable and legitimate residence and employment in the province for a certain number of years (specific residence and employment requirements vary by province). Parents must also have participated in the province's social security program for a certain number of years (specific social security requirements vary by province);

  • Students must have attended secondary school in the province for a certain number of years (specific education requirements vary by province);

  • Students who do not meet certain requirements (varies by province) must first take the provincial vocational school examination and complete a vocational education prior to taking the NCEE in their current province of residence; and

  • Students who do not meet these requirements are permitted to take the NCEE in their current province of residence, with the consent of the province where the student's permanent residence is registered; the province of the student's officially registered permanent residence will be responsible for the student's enrollment.
Calls for NCEE Reform

In addition to placing limitations on the right of Chinese citizens to determine their permanent place of residence, the household registration system (hukou zhidu) also restricts access to certain social benefits and rights that Chinese citizens receive based on whether they hold an urban or rural household registration (see Section II—Freedom of Residence and Movement in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2012 Annual Report). According to October 2012 reports from state-run and independent Chinese media outlets, groups of migrant parents protested over inadequate educational advancement opportunities for their children, sometimes clashing with local residents who contend that allowing migrant children to pursue education in their locality will overstretch limited resources in an already fiercely competitive education environment (21st Century Business Herald, 18 October 12; Global Times, 22 October 12, and 23 October 12). Throughout 2012, lawyers and experts petitioned central and provincial authorities over the need for NCEE reform, advocating access to equal educational opportunities and elimination of regional bias (Henan Business Daily, 16 July 12; Yanzhao Metropolis Daily, 9 October 12).

According to a September 2012 Xinhua report, China has more than 250 million urban migrant workers (Xinhua, 26 September 12). In addition, China Children and Teenagers' Fund, a government-affiliated charitable foundation, reported that in 2012 nearly 20 million rural children under the age of 14 have followed their migrant worker parents to the cities.

The Hukou System

The hukou system's discriminatory effect lies in its division of various social benefits and rights. In 2012, Chinese government officials estimated that between 200 and 250 million migrant workers living in cities are denied access to social services because they lack urban hukou status. According to an August 2012 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report, China faces significant challenges over the next 20 years in incorporating an estimated 400-500 million rural residents into urban society in part because of the uneven distribution of public services in China's cities (China News Service, 14 August 12).


Source: -See Summary (2013-03-22 / English) | Posted on: 2013-04-02  
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Authorities Use Threats, Abuse, and Harassment To Maintain Control Over Chen Kegui and Family

March 28, 2013

March 2013 reports indicate that Chen Kegui, nephew of prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, continues to face threats and abuse at the hands of officials while he serves time in prison. Reports indicate that his parents, wife, and young son also remain subject to surveillance and official harassment as they go about their daily lives. On November 30, 2012, the Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, sentenced Chen Kegui to three years and three months in prison for "intentional injury," after he clashed with plainclothes security personnel during an unannounced raid on his home in the middle of the night. Chen argued that he acted in self-defense, a position supported by several Chinese and international lawyers and rights advocates.

Prison Officials Threaten Chen Kegui and Subject Him to Physical Abuse

According to a March 14, 2013, New York Times (NYT) report, authorities permitted Chen Guangfu to visit with his son Chen Kegui in prison on February 28, 2013. This was only the second prison visit allowed for Chen Kegui after a 9-month period of isolation from the outside world (Amnesty International, 8 February 13). According to the NYT article, during the February 28 meeting, Chen Kegui told his father that guards had beaten and threatened him before the trial, and that officials did not tell him that his family had retained a lawyer to represent him. He also told his father that after the trial, prison officials had warned him not to appeal his sentence, and threatened that if he did, he would face a life sentence. In addition, Chen Kegui claimed that officials had threatened harm to his parents and child if he were to "disobey." The conversation between father and son reportedly was under the close watch of prison guards, and it was "clear that there [were] other things [he was] holding back from saying," Chen Guangfu's brother Chen Guangcheng told the NYT.

According to Radio Free Asia (5 March 13), while Chen Guangcheng was speaking at a March 5 event in Washington DC, he noted that he had spoken with Chen Guangfu following his visit to Chen Kegui in prison. Chen Guangcheng expressed serious concern that his nephew has endured "torture" while in custody, namely deprivation of sleep and food. He implicated the local public security bureau's Communist Party Secretary in the aforementioned warnings and threats against Chen Kegui and his family, and he also noted that Chen Kegui had lost over 22 pounds since his detention.

Officials Continue Monitoring and Harassment of the Family

The rest of the Chen family reportedly continues to face official harassment as they go about their daily lives in Dongshigu village, outside of Linyi. Chen Guangfu reported to NYT that the village remains under constant surveillance, including teams of guards who still stand watch at the village entrance. He also noted that he had recently been followed, and "in what he took to be an intimidating gesture," a family planning official visited a local school in search of Chen Kegui's five-year-old son (NYT, 14 March 13). Human Rights First (HRF) reported that the director of the child's school called Chen Guangfu "quite upset and worried" after "unidentified government officials" visited the school looking for the child (HRF, 13 March 13).

The CECC chairmen issued a statement regarding Chen Kegui's trial and sentencing on November 30, 2012, specifically raising concerns about Chen's condition in prison, calling on authorities to guarantee his safety and protect his rights, and urging the Chinese government to fulfill its promises to investigate abuses against Chen Guangcheng and his family.

Previous coverage on Chen Kegui's case as well as previous coverage on Chen Guangcheng's case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy.


Source: -See Summary (2013-03-19 ) | Posted on: 2013-04-02  
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Chen Kegui Serving Criminal Sentence, Legal Experts Refute Conviction

March 28, 2013

On November 30, 2012, the Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, sentenced Chen Kegui, nephew of prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, to three years and three months in prison for "intentional injury," following a trial marred by procedural violations, including problems with access to counsel, pre-trial family visits, trial notice, and access of witnesses to the trial. According to some Chinese and U.S. legal experts, Chen Kegui's wielding of a knife against plainclothes officials and hired personnel who broke into his home in the middle of the night on April 26, 2012, constitutes legitimate self-defense under Chinese law and therefore does not warrant criminal punishment. Domestic and international observers have raised Chen Kegui's case repeatedly since his detention, highlighting concerns that he may be the object of authorities' attempts to protect "national interests" and retaliate against his uncle Chen Guangcheng, who left China for the United States after escaping illegal home confinement. Authorities continue to subject Chen Kegui and his family to official threats, abuse, and harassment while he serves his sentence.

Chinese and U.S. Lawyers Allege Wrongful Conviction

Some Chinese and U.S. lawyers have called into question the conviction of Chen Kegui in a range of public statements. On December 1, 2012, Si Weijiang, one of the lawyers hired by Chen Kegui's wife to represent him, drafted a statement in response to the sentencing of Chen Kegui (Si Weijiang's personal blog, via Caijing, 1 December 12, link appears to be no longer available; English translation available at Seeing Red in China blog, 17 December 12). In his statement, Si Weijiang asserts that Chen Kegui's actions were "lawful self-defense and in no way criminal." He describes Chen Kegui's clash with officials as follows:
On April 26, 2012, Chen Kegui, just like any other man, was at home with his parents and child. His child had a fever. After midnight, a group of people climbed over the walls and stormed in, breaking the locks on the doors, and used clubs to beat Chen Kegui. [They] beat him from the interior of the house to the exterior. Chen Kegui called out to his mother for help because the intruders were numerous. Faced with circumstances in which his body and life were threatened, Chen Kegui extemporaneously grabbed a knife from his kitchen and cut the face of the man who led the invasion and beating, town government official Zhang Jian. When Zhang Jian and the others stopped the offense, [Chen Kegui] immediately halted use of the knife, and Zhang Jian and the others left of their own volition. This was in complete accordance with provisions under Article 20 of the PRC Criminal Law regarding legitimate self-defense.

Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao, who has previously aided Chen's family, told Time magazine prior to the trial, "According to what actually happened, this should be a case of self-defense, and he should be found not guilty" (Time, 30 November 12).

U.S. expert on Chinese law Jerome Cohen, who has worked closely with Chen Guangcheng and his family for years, also expressed disagreement with the charges against Chen Kegui, noting, "If Chen's case could be decided by an impartial court, he would very likely be acquitted, even without helpful lawyers, because he obviously acted in self-defence against a lawless, life-threatening attack." (US-Asia Law Institute, 30 October 12). Cohen also points to a number of other holes in the process, noting that his trial was not handled by an impartial court, but rather "a court controlled by the same political-legal commission that controls the police and procuracy bringing this case," and that the county procuracy failed to investigate the "illegal police-sponsored raid on the Chen family home," as well as the "illegal exclusion [of the lawyers whom Chen's family had retained] from the case."

Chen Wuquan, another of the lawyers hired by Chen Kegui's family but prevented from representing him, also refuted the verdict saying, "Chen Kegui is not guilty at all. His behaviour was legitimate self-defence, not the crime of intentional injury. From a legal perspective, the result is unacceptable" (Guardian, 30 November 12).

Chen Kegui Claims Self-Defense

In a recording which is reportedly a telephone conversation between blogger Yaxue Cao and an agitated Chen Kegui a few hours after his altercation with Zhang Jian and the intruders, Chen shared the details of the evening (Chinese recording available at freecgc.blogspot.com, 27 April 12; English translation available at Seeing Red in China, 27 April 12). He highlighted the fact that he picked up the knives [he claims he took two knives] "in defense" against the intruders, who were reportedly in plainclothes and showed no documentation of the purpose of their midnight visit. After the intruders had left his home, Chen fled the home as well, reportedly for fear of being captured and "beaten to death or beaten senseless." He later turned himself into police, hoping they would be able to help his child, who was suffering from a high fever. Chen reportedly was waiting for the police at the time of the call.

"Justifiable Defence" Protected Under PRC Criminal Law

Persons who inflict harm while acting in self-defense are protected from criminal responsibility under Chinese Law, as long as their actions do not exceed "the limits of necessity." Article 20 of the PRC Criminal Law provides, in relevant part,
An act that a person commits to stop an unlawful infringement in order to prevent the interests of the State and the public, or his own or other person's rights of the person, property or other rights from being infringed upon by the on-going infringement, thus harming the perpetrator, is justifiable defence, and he shall not bear criminal responsibility.
If a person's act of justifiable defence obviously exceeds the limits of necessity and causes serious damage, he shall bear criminal responsibility; however, he shall be given a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.
If a person acts in defence against an on-going assault, murder, robbery, rape, kidnap or any other crime of violence that seriously endangers his personal safety, thus causing injury or death to the perpetrator of the unlawful act, it is not undue defence, and he shall not bear criminal responsibility. [Emphasis added]


Observers Point to Political Reasons for Chen's Conviction

Lawyers, scholars, non-governmental organizations, and a United Nations official, have made reference to apparent political motives behind the court's conviction of Chen Kegui. According to Si Weijiang, "Judicial officiers involved in [Chen Kegui's] case have 'ravaged' common citizens in the name of national interests" (Si Weijiang's personal blog, via Caijing, 1 December 12). Professor Jerome Cohen also described this as a case of "politics before justice," stating, that Chen Kegui is "plainly not guilty," and his case represents one more example of a "political prosecution" under the Chinese legal system (US-Asia Law Institute, 30 October 12). In an interview with the National Review Online (14 March 13), Professor Martin Flaherty of Fordham University Law School confirmed, "There is no doubt that the arrest and conviction of Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Kegui, came about in direct retaliation for Guangcheng's escape..." Advocates from Human Rights Watch (1 December 12) and Chinese Human Rights Defenders (via Amnesty International, 4 December 12) have made similar allegations of retaliation; as has the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, who stated, "It is difficult to see the conviction of Chen Kegui as anything else but retaliation against Chen Guangcheng for defying the Chinese Government...I condemn in the strongest terms the conviction of Chen Kegui and urge the Chinese Government to ensure that human rights defenders and their families do not face violations of their fundamental rights as a result of their peaceful human rights activities." (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 7 December 12). The Commission previously reported that several others of Chen Guangcheng's relatives and supporters have faced harassment, beating, and detention in connection with his escape.

[Previous coverage on Chen Guangcheng's Case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy and Section II—Population Planning in the CECC 2012, 2011, and 2010 Annual Reports.]


Source: -See Summary (2013-03-07 ) | Posted on: 2013-04-02  
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Advocacy Groups Deliver Petitions Calling for Release of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia

March 28, 2013

On February 27, 2013, the International Committee for Liu Xiaobo, a committee comprised of 6 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and 15 non-governmental organizations, delivered petitions to Chinese Embassies and authorities, calling for the immediate release of imprisoned Nobel laureate and democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo and his wife, detained artist Liu Xia. In December 2012, Nobel laureate and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu created the petition and wrote a letter, signed by 134 fellow Nobel Prize winners, to then incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide have since signed the petition. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared the detentions of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia to be in violation of China's obligations under international law.

On February 27, 2013, the International Committee for Liu Xiaobo, a committee comprised of 6 Nobel Peace Prize laureates and 15 non-governmental organizations, led a petition campaign to deliver hundreds of thousands of signatures to Chinese Embassies and authorities, calling for the immediate release of imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia. South African Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu created the initial online petition (available here on Change.org) and wrote a letter, signed by 134 fellow Nobel laureates, to China's then incoming President Xi Jinping in December 2012, in response to the ongoing imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo and the illegal "house arrest" of Liu Xia. According to a February 28, 2013, Amnesty International report, more than 450,000 people from 130 countries signed the petitions, which were reportedly delivered to Chinese authorities in Hong Kong, Taipei, Paris, London, New York, and Washington DC. (For additional reporting on the petition campaign and advocacy, see also a February 28, 2013, article from the Taipei Times, and a February 27, 2013, Agence France-Presse article, available via Google News.)

In a February 27, 2013, press release by International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)—a non-governmental federation for human rights organizations—leaders of the movement spoke out in support of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia:
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace laureate: "These petitions represent the voices of people around the globe imploring the new Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia. We hope this will show China that the world supports their willingness to hear the voices of their people."
  • Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International: "Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia represent the hopes and aspirations of millions of Chinese who are currently silenced. This show of solidarity from people all over the world sends a powerful message to the Chinese government to free this courageous couple and all other prisoners of conscience..."
  • Jared Genser, Founder of Freedom Now: "Clearly, the citizens' movement led by Archbishop Tutu speaks with one voice when it calls for the immediate release of the Lius. We urge the Chinese government to heed this moral imperative."
Nobel laureate and democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo remains in prison more than two years after the Nobel Committee awarded him the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for what it deemed to be "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Liu is serving the fourth year of an 11-year sentence, while authorities hold his wife under a de facto form of house arrest. On December 12, 2012, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a hearing on Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia's ongoing detentions.

For information about the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention's Opinions on Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia's detentions, please see the Commission's previous analysis, "UN Group Calls for Immediate Release of Liu Xiaobo and Wife Liu Xia." For more information about writers in China, please see Section III—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2012 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2013-02-28 ) | Posted on: 2013-03-28  
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Chairman Brown and Cochairman Smith Express Grave Concern Over Tibetan Self-Immolations

Congressional-Executive Commission on China
www.cecc.gov

March 18, 2013

(Washington, DC)—The chairmen of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China today urged the Chinese government to end repressive policies against the Tibetan people and to resume a dialogue with the Dalai Lama amid ongoing and tragic Tibetan self-immolations, which have surpassed 100.

"We hope for an end to these tragic self-immolations soon. The Chinese government can reduce tension, but not through its current policy of harsher regulations and heavier security," said Senator Sherrod Brown, Chairman of the Commission. "Ending policies that deny Tibetans their freedoms of expression, association, and religion, while showing greater tolerance for cultural diversity, and resuming a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without preconditions would go a long way toward easing tensions."

"In recent years, Chinese officials have tightened controls on Tibetan Buddhism and monastic institutions, used excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, promoted resettlement and educational policies that have threatened and disrupted Tibetan culture and language, and closed Tibetan areas off to the outside world," said Congressman Chris Smith, Cochairman of the Commission. "Reversing these policies and allowing international observers into the region would do much to alleviate the situation."

This month marks five years since the start of mostly peaceful protests that swept across the Tibetan plateau in March and April 2008 in opposition to Chinese policies that infringe on the culture, language, religion, and livelihood of Tibetans. Following the protests, policies that were already harsh have intensified. Since 2009, there have been a reported 107 instances of self-immolations in which Tibetans have called for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama's return, most occurring within the past year. In a special report released in August 2012, the Commission noted how the self-immolations had spread geographically and from the Tibetan Buddhist monastic community to the lay population. The Commission continues to monitor the situation and issue periodic updates, the most recent issued on March 8.

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Source: -See Summary (2013-03-18 ) | Posted on: 2013-03-18  
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Senator Brown Appointed Chair, Representative Smith Appointed Cochair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Congressional-Executive Commission on China
www.cecc.gov

March 18, 2013

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has appointed Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has appointed Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) co-chair.

"I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners on the important task of this Commission, which is to make sure we are fully informed about human rights and rule of law developments in China. Promotion of human rights and the development of the rule of law are in the best interests of both countries, and are closely linked to our health and economic security," Brown said. "We must ensure China plays by the rules so that our workers can compete on a level playing field, our foods and products are safe, and universal human rights are respected."

"One of the most crucial factors determining whether the 21st century will be peaceful will be China's internal development—whether China recognizes its citizens' human rights and their desire to live in a democratic state ruled by law, or persists in non-representative government and repression," Smith said. "I remain deeply concerned that the Chinese government continues to promote forced abortions and to deny its citizens the universal freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly."

Congress created the Commission in 2000 to monitor China's compliance with international human rights standards, to encourage the development of the rule of law in the PRC, and to establish and maintain a list of victims of human rights abuses in China. The Commission submits an annual report to the President and Congress every October on these subjects. The Commission recently released a Chinese translation of the executive summary from the 2012 Annual Report, which is available here.

The Commission comprises nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials. The Senate Majority Leader, in consultation with the Senate Minority Leader, names the Senate's commissioners. Likewise, the Speaker of the House, in consultation with the House Minority Leader, chooses the House Members of the Commission. The President appoints the five Executive Branch commissioners.


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Source: -See Summary (2013-03-18 ) | Posted on: 2013-03-18  
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Authorities Block Uyghur Scholar From Leaving China, Refuse To Grant Passport to Uyghur Student

March 7, 2013

Chinese authorities took steps recently to prevent two Beijing-based Uyghurs from traveling outside of the country, highlighting official restrictions on Uyghurs' freedom of movement. The detentions of Ilham Tohti, an outspoken critic of government policy toward Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and his daughter, and the detention of Atikem Rozi, a university student who posted comments on the Internet about authorities' refusal to grant her a passport, also point to grave repercussions that Uyghurs face when exercising their right to freedom of expression inside China.

Ilham Tohti

On February 2, 2013, Chinese authorities reportedly detained Uyghur scholar and webmaster Ilham Tohti and his 18-year-old daughter at the Beijing Capital International Airport as they were undergoing security procedures (Radio Free Asia (RFA), 1 February 13). According to RFA (28 April 10 and 7 February 13), Tohti holds a valid passport and has been issued a J-1 visa to the United States, where he planned to take up a visiting scholar position at the University of Indiana. According to the same RFA articles, Tohti was a professor at Central Nationalities University in Beijing municipality and founded the Web site Uyghur Online (www.uigurbiz.net). Tohti has been detained and interrogated on multiple occasions in the past, most notably for six weeks following the July 5, 2009, demonstrations and riots in Urumqi city, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (RFA, 24 August 09; CECC analysis, 6 August 09 and 8 December 09). Tohti told Radio France Internationale (RFI) that, at the time of their phone call on February 2, XUAR public security officers had held him for five hours, preventing him from boarding his U.S.-bound flight (RFI, 2 February 13). Authorities held his daughter, who was traveling with him, in a separate room before allowing her to board their U.S.-bound flight alone (Associated Press (AP), reprinted in Canada.com, 3 February 13). Authorities held Tohti at the Beijing airport for a total of more than 12 hours, the first 10 of which they denied him food, water, and access to restroom facilities, according to the February 3 AP report. During this time, he reportedly endured interrogation by three separate groups of public security officers, who did not provide a reason for his detention, according to the same report.

On February 7, Tohti told RFA that a police car had been stationed outside of his home after his detention, and police were questioning anyone who tried to speak with him. Tohti also told RFA that unknown hackers had attacked Uyghur Online after his detention (RFA, 7 February 13). The Web site addresses issues of ethnicity in China, and Tohti has criticized government policy in the XUAR on the Web site and elsewhere. Authorities have closed the Web site on multiple occasions in the past. (CECC Analysis, 6 August 09). On March 5 and February 26, RFA reported that Tohti had been suffering from heart problems following his February 2 airport detention, and specifically after extended interrogation sessions on February 22, 25, and 26 in his Beijing home, where he remains under 24-hour surveillance.

Atikem Rozi

In a separate incident, on February 5, authorities detained and interrogated 21-year-old Uyghur student Atikem Rozi, after she attempted to apply for a passport a second time in order to study abroad. According to Uyghur Online (7 February 13), public security officers in Toqsu (Xinhe) county, Aqsu district, XUAR, reportedly took Rozi from her parents' home in Belkesti (Baileikaisiti) village, Uchqat (Yuqikate) township, Toqsu and detained and interrogated her for six hours. According to the report, the officers visited their home again on February 7 and questioned her for at least two hours. A February 5 Uyghur Online article reported that the Toqsu County Public Security Bureau had also summoned Rozi and her mother to their office on February 4. Rozi, a third-year student at Central Nationalities University in Beijing, was at her parents' home during the Chinese New Year holiday period (RFA, 8 February 13).

In a December 2012 Uyghur Online article, Rozi described her two attempts to apply for a passport. She reportedly first applied for a passport in 2011 in Beijing, where her household registration (hukou) is registered, in accordance with Article 5 of the PRC Passport Law. However, two months later, Beijing officials phoned her to say that XUAR officials refused to process her passport application. In December 2012, several weeks after Rozi submitted a second passport application with the Beijing Entry-Exit Administration, Administration staff informed her that her application had been denied, and when she visited the Administration in person to inquire about the reason for the denial, staff members did not provide one. Rozi subsequently contacted the Toqsu County Foreign Affairs Office, who informed her that the denial was due to the fact that she was "politically unqualified," and specifically because she had been questioned by public security officers in Toqsu in the summer of 2011.

Rozi recalled in the same Uyghur Online article that on August 5, 2011, public security officers in Toqsu had detained and interrogated her, and on August 25, 2011, Toqsu County Education Bureau officials interrogated her again. According to Rozi, the officers said her August 5 detention was due to two postings she made on Renren, a Chinese microblogging service, in which she complained about ethnic discrimination and a lack of ethnic minority rights. On August 25, officials again questioned her regarding her vote in an online poll about ethnic discrimination in China (screen grab of poll available here). During the August 25 questioning, education officials urged her to make fewer comments online. According to a December 2012 RFA article, Rozi has also posted comments on the widely used Sina Weibo microblogging service regarding officials' refusal to grant her a passport.

Chinese authorities continue to restrict freedom of movement to penalize citizens who express views that authorities deem objectionable or sensitive, including through the arbitrary prevention of rights defenders, advocates, and critics from leaving China. According to Article 13(7) of the PRC Passport Law and Article 8(5) of the PRC Exit and Entry Control Law, officials have the discretion to prevent Chinese citizens from traveling abroad when they believe that a citizen's leaving China might harm "state security" or cause "major loss" to "national interests." However, the meaning and scope of harm or loss to state security or national interests are undefined, which has led to official abuse and arbitrary enforcement. (For more information on and examples of official use of restrictions on freedom of movement to penalize citizens, see pages 97-98 of the Commission's 2012 Annual Report and New York Times, 22 February 13.)

Chinese officials have implemented restrictions on passports and international and domestic travel for Uyghurs as part of a series of repressive security measures in the XUAR. According to the February 22 New York Times article, Uyghur passport applicants, unlike Han Chinese applicants, are required to seek approval from provincial authorities and the public security bureau from their hometown. XUAR residents have reported that authorities have maintained restrictions on passport applications from Uyghurs and members of other non-Han groups since the July 2009 demonstrations and riots (RFA, 10 September 10 and 28 February 11; U.S. State Department, 24 May 12). A February 7 Uyghur Human Rights Project briefing reports that Chinese authorities have been engaging in widespread confiscation and denial of Uyghurs' passports throughout the XUAR since 2006.

For more information on conditions in the XUAR, see Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2012 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2013-03-06 ) | Posted on: 2013-03-07  
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Authorities Sentence Chen Kegui in Trial Marred by Procedural Violations

December 7, 2012

On November 30, 2012, the Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, tried and sentenced Chen Kegui, nephew of prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, to three years and three months in prison for "intentional injury." Chen Kegui wielded knives against local officials in April 2012 when they broke into his home after discovering Chen Guangcheng had escaped from illegal home confinement. According to supporters, Chen Kegui's case has been marred by procedural violations since authorities detained him in May.

The Yinan County People's Court in Linyi city, Shandong province, sentenced Chen Kegui to three years and three months in prison on November 30 for "intentional injury" (a crime under Article 234 of the PRC Criminal Law), according to a November 30 Associated Press (AP) report (via Google). The charges against Chen are in connection to his clash with officials when they invaded his home after discovering that his uncle, prominent legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, had escaped illegal home confinement (Washington Post (WP), 30 November 12). Chen Kegui reportedly wielded knives in self-defense after officials beat him and his parents in the altercation (AP, via Google, 30 November 12). Article 20 of the Criminal Law protects persons who cause injury while acting in due "defense against an ongoing assault ... or other crime of violence that seriously endangers his personal safety" from bearing criminal responsibility. On May 20, 2012, Financial Times reported that Chen Kegui's wife Liu Fang was "on the run," and that authorities were demanding to know her whereabouts. In July 2012, she issued a joint statement (via Human Rights in China) with Chen Kegui's parents, but the statement did not include information on her whereabouts. Information on her current whereabouts as of December 4, 2012, does not appear to be available.

Unlawful Handling of Chen's Case

Chen Kegui's case has been fraught with procedural violations since his detention in May 2012. For example, authorities refused to allow his family to visit him for the duration of his detention, raising concerns about his treatment while in custody (Guardian, 30 November 12). Authorities also refused to allow the family's lawyers to meet with or represent Chen, instead forcing him to accept the defense of government-appointed lawyers who reportedly hailed from the same firms as those whom the government appointed to defend his uncle Chen Guangcheng in 2006 against his wishes (Statement from Family of Chen Kegui, reprinted in Human Rights in China, 25 July 12). In addition, authorities reportedly did not notify Chen's family of the trial until four hours before it was to begin, and when Chen's parents arrived for the trial, authorities did not permit them to enter the courtroom (Guardian, 30 November 12).

According to a source in contact with Chen's family, Chen does not plan to appeal his sentence, and he plans to pay compensation to an official whom he injured in the altercation (WP, 30 November 12). The CECC chairmen issued a statement on Chen's trial and sentencing on November 30, 2012, raising concerns about Chen's condition, calling on authorities to guarantee his safety and protect his rights, and urging the Chinese government to fulfill its promises to investigate abuses against Chen Guangcheng and his family.

Background: Chen Guangcheng

Previous coverage of Chen Guangcheng's case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy. For additional information on Chen and his work related to China's population planning policy, see Section II—Population Planning in the CECC 2012, 2011, and 2010 Annual Reports. The CECC chairmen released a statement on Chen Guangcheng's arrival in the United States in May 2012. The CECC also held hearings to examine Chen Guangcheng's case on November 1, 2011, and on May 3, 2012.

Source: -See Summary (2012-12-03 ) | Posted on: 2013-02-22  
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Chinese Authorities Fine LCD Cartel in First Case Concerning Conduct Outside China

February 12, 2013

On January 4, 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) imposed fines totaling 353 million yuan (US$56.8 million) on two South Korean and four Taiwanese manufacturers (together, the LCD Cartel) of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, for price fixing. Though NDRC has brought actions against Chinese and foreign-invested companies for domestic price fixing in the past, this is the first such case against an international cartel. Because the price-fixing actions took place prior to the effective date of China's Antimonopoly Law, NDRC based the enforcement action on the 1998 Pricing Law. China's action follows similar actions against members of the LCD Cartel by authorities in the United States and the European Union.

On January 4, 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) reported on its Web site that it had fined six companies a total of 353 million yuan (US$56.8 million) for participating in a cartel to fix prices of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens sold into the Chinese market. NDRC, one of the three Chinese government departments charged with implementation of China's 2008 Antimonopoly Law, is responsible for handling violations of pricing regulations, as well as activities related to pricing that violate the Antimonopoly Law or related legislation such as the 2011 Anti-Price Monopoly Provisions. According to the NDRC report, during the period from 2001 to 2006, representatives of the six companies, LG and Samsung of South Korea and Chimei, AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and Hannstar of Taiwan, met in Taiwan and South Korea a total of 53 times to exchange information on the worldwide LCD market and to set prices for LCD screens. According to an NDRC spokesman's January 4 comments, during this period, the cost of LCD screens accounted for approximately 80 percent of the total cost of manufacturing color televisions, though this has now decreased to 70 percent.

According to the NDRC spokesman, NDRC brought the action against the LCD Cartel under the 1998 Pricing Law rather than the Antimonopoly Law, because the Antimonopoly Law did not come into effect until 2008, after the activities in question had occurred. The LCD Cartel violated Article 14(1) of the Pricing Law, which covers collusion to manipulate market prices, thereby harming the rights of consumers. The NDRC ordered cartel members to pay penalties totaling nearly 353 million yuan, including (i) 172 million yuan as refunds to Chinese color television manufacturers for the amounts they overpaid because of the cartel's actions, (ii) 36.75 million yuan for cartel members' illegal income, and (iii) a fine of 144 million yuan, all in accordance with Articles 40 and 41 of the Pricing Law. NDRC's spokesman noted that the penalty would have been greater if NDRC had brought the case under the Antimonopoly Law.

As NDRC's spokesman observed, the Chinese action follows earlier actions in the United States, the European Union, and Korea against companies involved in fixing prices of LCD screens, including members of the LCD Cartel. According to a January 4 Associated Press article, U.S. and European regulators imposed penalties of over $3 billion against LCD suppliers, and U.S. courts gave 12 executives prison terms for LCD cartel activities.

The NDRC action raises certain issues concerning NDRC's adherence to the letter of the law:
  • Extraterritorial jurisdiction. According to a January 2013 China Law & Practice article, "NDRC Cracks Down on Anti-competitive Behavior," this is the first case in which NDRC has imposed penalties for conduct outside China. Article 2 of the Antimonopoly Law and Article 2 of the Anti-Price Monopoly Provisions both specifically provide for jurisdiction over monopoly acts that occur outside China, but eliminate or restrict market competition within China. However, as noted above, NDRC based its action on the Pricing Law because the conduct occurred before the effective date of the Antimonopoly Law. Article 2 of the Pricing Law provides that it shall apply to pricing acts carried out inside China. While the Pricing Law does not forbid extraterritorial application, unlike the Antimonopoly Law and the Anti-Price Monopoly Provisions, the Pricing Law does not provide for such extraterritoriality.

  • Statute of Limitations. According to the China Law & Practice article, under China's Administrative Penalty Law, the applicable statute of limitations within which authorities would have needed to take action is two years. However, NDRC brought this action long after the conduct occurred. Though there is some question about when the limitation period begins where the conduct has not been discovered, according to competition lawyer Frank Waha, as quoted in the same article, "At least in other legal systems, when one speaks of a two year limitation period you are talking about a four year maximum period. That is how it would work in other jurisdictions, but the rules are not clear in China."

  • Use of "Corrective Measures." In addition to imposing fines, NDRC ordered the members of the LCD Cartel to take corrective actions, including undertaking to supply Chinese television manufacturers fairly and to supply the same high quality products and opportunity to buy new technology products to all customers, and extending the free warranty period for products sold to Chinese buyers from 18 to 36 months. As a January 7, 2013, commentary by O'Melveny & Myers noted, these corrective measures are similar to those the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has imposed in merger filing cases under the Antimonopoly Law though, "[w]hereas MOFCOM has adopted regulations governing the enforcement of remedial commitments in the merger context, the NDRC has not published similar measures."

It should become clear in the future whether this case heralds robust enforcement against international price cartels by Chinese regulators. However, the case does raise questions as to the willingness of Chinese authorities to skirt the language of regulations and to impose measures beyond those provided for in regulations, as in the case of the abovementioned corrective measures, when doing so protects Chinese industry.

For a discussion of price-fixing cases involving domestic parties, see page 180 of the Commission's 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2013-01-23 ) | Posted on: 2013-02-12  
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Tibetan Property Protests Result in Self-Immolation, Detention

February 8, 2013

In addition to 97 Tibetan self-immolations reported or believed to focus on political and religious issues during the period February 27, 2009, to January 22, 2013, an additional 2 Tibetan self-immolations reported in 2012 were property protests. Both self-immolators were Tibetan women protesting official expropriation of residential property and inadequate compensation during the redevelopment of the earthquake-devastated capital of Yushu (Yushul) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Qinghai province. The Commission has also observed reports of officials detaining Tibetans in the Yushu capital and elsewhere in the prefecture who refused to turn over property to the government. Official media reports disclosed in early 2011 that the government would rename the Yushu capital, rebuild it as an urban area, and route a new railway through it.

Concurrent with a nearly seven-fold increase in 2012 over 2011 in Tibetan self-immolations focused on political and religious issues—81 such immolations in 2012 compared to 12 in 2011—the Commission has observed reports of 2 Tibetans self-immolating in 2012 as property protests.
  • September 13, 2012. Pasang Lhamo, female, age 62, resident of the Yushu TAP capital. Pasang Lhamo reportedly traveled to Beijing and self-immolated there after local officials "refused to allow her to retain her ancestral home." Officials reportedly took her away and hospitalized her at an unknown location. See, e.g., Tibet Express, 4 January 13; Phayul, 25 January 13; and International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), 31 January 13.

  • June 27, 2012. Dekyi Choezom, female, age in 40s, resident of the Yushu TAP capital. Dekyi Choezom reportedly self-immolated after protesting "against the confiscation of her residence." Some local residents "believed" she protested against "Chinese land policy and the unfair allocation of land" after the April 14, 2010, Yushu earthquake (ICT, 9 April 11). Authorities reportedly extinguished the blaze and hospitalized her. See, e.g., Radio Free Asia (RFA), 2 July 12; 3 July 12; Free Tibet, 2 July 12.
An October 2012 Amnesty International (AI)report shows that property-related self-immolation is not unique to the Tibetan areas of China. The report detailed 41 instances of self-immolation as protest against forced eviction from property during the period February 13, 2009, to November 3, 2011. The self-immolations took place in a total of 19 provincial-level areas of China that did not include the Tibet Autonomous Region or Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. During the same period, there were 12 self-immolations in the Tibetan areas of China—all were in Sichuan province and all focused on political and religious issues. Eight of the 41 property protests AI documented reportedly were fatal, a mortality rate of approximately 20 percent. Of the 97 Tibetan self-immolations from February 27, 2009, to January 22, 2013, 84 reportedly were fatal, a mortality rate of approximately 86 percent.

The AI report noted that the frequency of self-immolation as property protest had increased sharply. Prior to the 41 cases in the report (spanning a period of approximately two years and nine months), "fewer than 10 such cases" were reported for the period from 1998 until 2009. AI described the rule of law and human rights environment in which the self-immolations took place in terms that, based on Commission observation, also are relevant to the Tibetan areas of China:
    Barred from access to legal remedies, harassed or detained when they attempt to exercise their right to peacefully protest, and pushed aside by authorities who pursue development at all costs without soliciting their opinions, some Chinese have turned to a drastic form of protest—self-immolation.
In addition to the two Tibetan self-immolations as property protests, the Commission has observed recent reports of detentions of Tibetans in the Yushu area who protested against or objected to turning over their property to government officials.
  • January 19, 2013. Officials in Yushu TAP reportedly detained Gachoe, one of a group of Tibetans protesting against "confiscation of their farms and grassland" in Nangqian (Nangchen) county. Tibetans protested on January 23 outside the Nangqian public security bureau offices to demand Gachoe's release and the return of their property. (See Tibet Express, 23 January 13; Phayul, 25 January 13.) The PRC Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law, Article 27, provides authority to local governments to "define the ownership of, and the right to use" grasslands, thereby "affecting economic conditions" of areas under their administration (according to the prepared statement of David L. Phillips at an April 11, 2005 Commission roundtable on ethnic autonomy).

  • September 12, 2012. Officials reportedly detained or "disappeared" Tibetan businessman Tashi in the Yushu TAP capital, around the time authorities seized his property in Yushu. Men entered Tashi's home about midnight while he was away and told family members that the home and other structures would be demolished. Officials detained Tashi's wife (Bode), son (Sherab Dorje), daughter (Yangzom), and Dzongsar Monastery monk Sonam Tobgyal when they objected. Bulldozers and a work crew razed the home, a hotel, and a shop, cleared the rubble, and fenced off the site by the next morning. (See RFA, 19 September 12; High Peaks Pure Earth, 2 October 12, providing a translation of a Tibetan-language blog post by Tibetan writer Jamyang Kyi).
The Commission's 2011 Annual Report (218-19) provided information on government plans for extensive post-quake rebuilding of the Yushu area and formally redesignating it as a "city," indicating that it would become the center of a substantial population and economy with a well-developed infrastructure. In April 2011 more than 300 Tibetans staged a sit-in protest, claiming that "authorities either sold or expropriated their property without providing 'appropriate' compensation."

For more information on Tibetan self-immolations believed to focus on political and religious issues, see the CECC 2012 Annual Report, 156-60; and Commission analysis in "Official Opinion Urges Criminal Prosecution of Persons Linked to Self-Immolations," 18 January 13; "Special Report: Tibetan Self-Immolation—Rising Frequency, Wider Spread, Greater Diversity, 22 August 12; and "Special Report: Tibetan Monastic Self-Immolations Appear To Correlate With Increasing Repression of Freedom of Religion," 23 December 11.


Source: -See Summary (2013-02-03 ) | Posted on: 2013-02-11  
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Authorities Issue Circular To Promote Environmental Information Disclosure

February 4, 2013

Environmental authorities issued a circular in October 2012 that potentially could expand and deepen information disclosure to the public, including information about environmental impact assessments. The circular, however, has limitations and omissions that constrain environmental transparency, especially at the grassroots level.

On October 30, 2012, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) issued the Circular on Taking Steps To Strengthen Environmental Open Government Information Work (MEP circular), in order to implement the State Council Information Office 2012 Open Government Information Focal Points Work Plan (Work Plan), issued in April 2012. The Work Plan included environmental protection as one of the key areas targeted for advancement in information disclosure. The MEP circular directs various MEP departments, agencies, and directly subordinate work units, as well as environmental protection departments (bureaus) in provinces, and municipalities directly under the Central government, among other environmental protection bodies at a similar level, to take steps to advance environmental open information in several areas and to strengthen institutional capacity to implement disclosure measures. The MEP circular clearly outlines specific types of information that authorities may make public. Previously in 2007 and 2008, MEP also issued documents outlining definite topics subject to public information requests: the 2008 Ministry of Environmental Protection Information Guide (Guide), and the 2008 Ministry of Environmental Protection Open Information Catalogue (First Group) (Catalogue). The MEP provided the Guide and the Catalogue after MEP's predecessor SEPA issued the Provisional Measures on Open Environmental Information in 2007, which was drafted according to the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Open Government Information adopted by the State Council in 2007.

Potential To Improve Information Disclosure
If fully implemented, the MEP circular has the potential to expand the range and depth of information that designated authorities could disclose to the public. The MEP circular calls upon authorities to:
  1. "Advance transparency regarding environmental examination and approval processes and results" and "expand the scope of publicity regarding major projects involving the public interest and extensively solicit opinions from the public" (item 2.1).
  2. "Proactively disclose abridged versions of EIA reports, the results of environmental impact assessment (EIA) document reviews, the results of completed environmental checks and approvals for construction projects, and information regarding the acceptance of construction project documents" (item 2.1.3). The Catalogue and the Guide issued by the MEP in 2008 did provide for some disclosure of EIA related information, but did not stipulate that versions of EIA reports themselves could be made public. In August 2012, however, the minister of environmental protection announced in a speech that environmental protection agencies at all levels should post abridged versions of environmental assessment reports online starting on September 1, 2012.
  3. "Make public information about ‘supervisory-type’ monitoring results from key pollution sources in a timely manner" (item 2.2.2). (If implemented, this item potentially could contribute to greater transparency of pollution data by officials. The Catalogue and the Guide issued by the MEP in 2008 did not specify that authorities could disclose monitoring results from specific pollution sources).
  4. "Supervise and urge enterprise environmental information disclosure according to law" (item 2.2.3). This is the first time that environmental authorities have been given the duty to supervise and urge company information disclosure. If implemented, this potentially could help to improve company and/or official disclosure practices.
The MEP circular also calls upon authorities to strengthen transparency regarding extremely severe and serious sudden environmental incidents and to publicize incident management measures in a timely manner (item 2.3). In addition, the MEP circular calls upon environmental protection departments to improve implementation of disclosure measures, to expand the scope of information released proactively (item 3), and to set up efficient ways to make information public (item 3.1).

Limitations of the MEP Circular
While the MEP circular includes items that potentially could improve environmental transparency, it also has limitations:
  1. The document is only a circular, which is an administrative rule that has normative value and is used to communicate matters, give enforcement directives, and convey personnel changes to subordinate bodies. It does not have the force of a ministerial order (mingling), which is a coercive administrative measure. (For more information on "normative documents" and the hierarchy and purposes of various administrative rules, see the Measures for Handling Official Documents in State Administrative Organs (Article 9) and the Mansfield Dialogues in Asia Article, pp.72-73.) MEP authorities have not updated the 2008 Catalogue and Guide to reflect this circular's contents.
  2. The circular appears to be relevant only for departments, agencies, and directly subordinate work units of the MEP, as well as provincial-level environmental departments (bureaus). It does not seem to apply to environmental protection departments (bureaus) below the provincial level, which may exempt those bodies from the specified environmental disclosure requirements, potentially limiting improvements in transparency at the grassroots level.
  3. The circular directs authorities to provide some information about processing EIA reports, but it only provides for disclosure of the abridged versions of EIA reports rather than the complete reports (item 2.1.3).
  4. The item calling for improvements in proactive information disclosure regarding sudden environmental incidents refers only to extremely severe and serious incidents (item 2.3) (these are labeled level 1 and 2 incidents). (For more information on the four levels of incidents, see this MEP measure.) The circular does not appear to apply to the two other levels of incidents (relatively large and common—levels 3 and 4), which, if they occur, may still pose environmental harms at the local level. The specific sub-items appear to focus mainly on strengthening disclosure of and coordinating authorities' response measures (section 2.3, sub-items). The Guide issued by the MEP in 2008, already indicates that environmental protection officials are to proactively issue information on incident emergency response plans, as well as information regarding incidents that take place, (related) projections, and management measures. Previously, in January 2011, the Ministry of Environmental Protection issued a ministerial order, the Sudden Environmental Incident Information Reporting Measure, which outlines official requirements for reporting environmental incidents to higher levels in the government. The coercive measure, however, contains no requirements regarding disclosure of information to the public.
The MEP circular directs authorities to strengthen "guidance of public opinion" regarding specific information that is of high interest to a wide population. After authorities disclose important information, they are to "closely follow" and "correctly guide public opinion," as well as "anticipate and address society's reactions" and "issue related information in a timely manner" (item 3.2). The particulars of "guiding public opinion" are not provided. (For reference, however, this 2009 CECC analysis provides information on the link between “guiding public opinion” and Party dominance in the media sector.)

For more information on environmental information transparency, see Section II—The Environment in the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp.117-118).

Source: -See Summary (2013-01-18 ) | Posted on: 2013-02-04  
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Communist Party Holds Significant Party Congress In November, Selects Top Leaders

November 7, 2012

The Chinese Communist Party Congress, which meets every five years, will open on November 8, 2012 (18th Party Congress). The Congress is significant for several reasons. At the Congress, the Party chooses the Party's top leadership. China’s political system is authoritarian based on one-party rule, so Party leaders become leaders of the country. Despite official claims that "elected" delegates to the Party Congress choose members of two top Party leadership bodies, China's leaders in practice are chosen by a select number of incumbent top Party officials through a non-transparent and largely undemocratic process which is contrary to international human rights standards. The Party also will issue a "political report" at the Congress that reportedly strives to "establish ideological guidelines and the political resolutions of the collective leadership." Typically, there has been some limited input by non-Party members during the drafting stages of the report, but debates over ideology and policy direction have been non-transparent. In addition, the Congress will likely amend the Communist Party's constitution.

(For more information regarding the topics outlined above see paragraphs below, and these sources: Xinhua, 28 September 12; Constitution of the Communist Party of China, Article 18; Alice Miller, "The Road to the 18th Party Congress," China Leadership Monitor, No. 36, Winter 2012, 6 January 12; Cheng Li, Preparing For the 18th Party Congress: Procedures and Mechanisms," China Leadership Monitor, No. 36, Winter 2012, 6 January 12; and Susan Lawrence, Michael Martin, Congressional Research Service report, "Understanding China's Political System," 10 May 12.)

Non-Transparent, Top-Down Selection of China's Leaders
Selection processes for Party leaders are not transparent to the public (China Media Project, 25 September 12). The general public and international media are left to speculate on the final number of Political Bureau (Politburo) Standing Committee members that will be selected, including conjecture that the current number of nine may be reduced to seven (Economist, 29 September 12; Reuters, 29 August 12). There also is supposition about the make-up of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, sometimes based on journalist sources inside China (NYT, 6 August 12; Reuters, 19 October 12). According to the October 19 Reuters article, the only two certainties in the line-up of the standing committee are Xi Jinping, the successor to Hu Jintao (General Secretary of the Party and President of China) and Li Keqiang, the successor to Wen Jiabao (Member of the Politburo Standing Committee and Premier of the State Council). The other seats on the Politburo Standing Committee and other leadership bodies are still subject to change.

According to Article 19 of the Party Constitution, the Party National Congress "elects" Party Central Committee (Party CC) members. The Party CC then "elects" the Party Central Committee General Secretary, the Politburo, and the Politburo Standing Committee. In practice, however, the outgoing Politburo Standing Committee largely determines the list of leaders for positions on the Politburo (Li, 5). The selection of China's Party leaders and therefore, China's state leaders, takes place within the Party and does not involve the vast majority of Chinese citizens. This runs counter to the standards outlined in Article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, "[t]he will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."

Chart depicting hierarchical structure of top Party organizations (approximate and definite numbers from Economist, 29 September 12; Lawrence and Martin, "Understanding China's Political System," p. 4; and Li, "Preparing for the 18th Party Congress: Procedures and Mechanisms," pp. 2, 5).

While the selection processes for Party leadership posts are largely determined by the Party Organization Department and top Party leaders, some innovations have been introduced. Since 1987, there have been more candidates than seats in Party CC selection processes (Li, 5, 7), introducing the potential for competition over a low percentage of seats. For example, in 2007, there were 8.3 percent more candidates than seats for full members of the Party CC (Li, 7). In addition, in 2007, Party leaders introduced a new feedback procedure for Party members in the selection process for members of the Politburo. In this process, a "democratic recommendation" (minzhu tuijian) procedure is used to provide feedback on the nominees put forward through a process supervised by the Party Organization Department (Miller, 9). Miller writes that the procedure resembled a "straw poll." In May 2012, the Party polled 370 members and alternate members of the Party CC about their preferences for members of the Politburo (South China Morning Post, 8 June 12 - subscription required). News reports did not provide information on the standing of potential nominees before and after the straw poll, so it is difficult to assess the impact of the poll on the selection of nominees. A November 6, 2012, Reuters article reported sources as saying that this year for the first time, there was a proposal to have 20 percent more candidates than seats for Politburo members. The article also noted foreign experts who cautioned that the proposal might not be adopted.

Debates Regarding Policy Direction Non-Transparent, Limited Non-Party Review
In the past, the "political report" to be presented at the Party Congress has provided clues to the main ideological and policy directions the new leaders will take the Party. The Party leadership, however, reportedly is not a "monolithic group whose members all share the same ideology and policy preferences" (Li, 14). In the past, during the drafting process, some non-Party members have been invited to review the text of the political report (Miller, 2, 5-6). For the 17th Party Congress in 2007, a draft of the report was circulated inside the Party to more than 5,560 select Party members and select non-Party personnel. (Miller, 5-6). As reported by Li, Party leader Tian Peiyan described the drafting process of a similar Party report for the Fourth Plenum of the 17th Party Central Committee and argued that the Party "has established a comparatively mature democratic decisionmaking mechanism" (Li, 11). Li noted that Tian undercut his claim of "democratic openness" within Party decisionmaking processes by not including discussion of controversial issues debated during the drafting process. (Li, 11). In addition, in October 2012, the Chinese press indicated the 18th Party Congress would revise the Party constitution to include the "main strategic ideology" outlined in the "political report," but gave no further information regarding the revision (Beijing Daily, 23 October 12).

Party Congress Delegate Selection Processes: Some Innovation But Still Top-Down and Non-Competitive
Higher-level Party personnel appear to continue to have influence over the selection processes that produce nominees for Party Congress delegates:
  • County and municipal-level Party committees reportedly generate lists of delegate nominees after encouraging grassroots Party organizations to make recommendations. Party standing committee members make the final cuts to the lists. The relevant Party organization department in conjunction with various local Party committees investigates potential nominees. The resulting lists of candidates is made available to Party members for input and also shared with the general public. Provincial-level Party committees then reportedly vote on the lists of nominees and give the list to the Central Organization Department for review. Provincial-level Party congresses then hold elections that in some cases involve more candidates than seats (Li, 2-3).
  • Incumbent Party leaders potentially influence delegate selection processes in the name of "optimizing" the nominee list to make it broadly representative of Party members. Authorities similarly "optimized" nomination lists during the last round of local people's congress elections, and in some instances used this excuse to prevent politically sensitive individuals from running (CECC analysis, 23 December 11; CECC 2012 Annual Report, p. 18). In November 2011, central Party authorities reportedly issued a plan to guide Congress delegate selection that stipulated predetermined percentages for minority delegates and an increase in the number of women delegates (Xinhua, 2 November 11). The same article outlined specific percentages for workers and "front line" cadres. An August 13, 2012, Xinhua article reported on an official statement that indicated the delegates who had been chosen for the 18th Party Congress "extensively represented" Party members and had met the set proportional requirements. The article, however, did not discuss how the proportion requirements were implemented.
In addition, it appears that the development of competition in delegate selection processes has stalled. For the 18th Party Congress, the requirement was to have "more than" 15 percent additional candidates than seats overall. For the 17th Party Congress five years ago, the requirement was nearly identical. It was to have "not less" than 15 percent additional seats than candidates. (PRC Central People's Government, reprinted in China State Commission for National Defense Mobilization Net, 14 August 12).

The Chinese press, however, highlighted new developments in the delegate selection processes for 18th Party Congress delegates that "expanded interparty democracy," according to the August 14 PRC Central People's Government article. The same article noted three such developments:
  1. Standardizing the five phases of candidate selection processes and having more candidates than seats during the investigation phase (average was 13.4 percent more candidates than seats);
  2. Improving nomination processes, including seeking suggestions from Party organizations and Party members at the next lowest grassroots level and not including any candidates on nomination lists who were not "recommended" by the majority of Party organizations and Party members at the grassroots level;
  3. Making greater efforts to publicize the list of nominees to Party members, as well as to the general public.
For more information on political reform and the role of the Party in governance, see Section III-Institutions of Democratic Governance in the CECC 2012 Annual Report, pp.125-132.

Source: -See Summary (2012-10-24 / English) | Posted on: 2013-01-07  
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Chinese Censors Limit Online Content for the 18th Party Congress

December 21, 2012

In the months leading up to and during the 18th Party Congress—which began on November 8, 2012—Chinese official censors took bold steps to limit political debate and control free expression on the Internet. According to news reports, Internet users and Western media organizations faced frequent Web site blockages and experienced heightened sensitivity over a range of political topics. In some instances, China reportedly took unprecedented steps to block online content, including blocking Google services. In another reported incident, Chinese officials blocked the New York Times Web site after the newspaper published an investigative article detailing Premier Wen Jiabao's family fortune and business networks.

In the months leading up to and throughout the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party (18th Party Congress), Chinese censors took bold steps to control online content and limit freedom of expression. International media organizations widely reported heightened sensitivity and increased censorship during the once-in-a-decade turnover of China's leadership, which ushered in the country's fifth generation of leaders. While official censors commonly increase Internet censorship around sensitive political events or anniversaries (17 November 12, Al Jazeera), the Communist Party appeared to employ particularly strict measures in the lead-up to and throughout the 18th Party Congress (13 November 12, Deutsche Welle; 9 November 12, International Business Times).

Examples of Internet Censorship and Online Content Blockages

Internet users and international media outlets reported on increased censorship of and sensitivity to names and phrases related to the 18th Party Congress. The following instances and examples demonstrate heightened official concerns over free expression of political views and political commentary:
  • Weibo Censorship of Political Terms: International news media organizations and foreign Web sites reported that Chinese censors blocked or partially blocked a range of political terms on China's popular microblogging (weibo) Web sites. According to the November 9, 2012, International Business Times article, Chinese censors acted by "preemptively blocking several names and phrases relating to the meeting." According to a November 10, 2012, China Digital Times article, Sina Weibo, China's largest Twitter-like microblogging service, changed the way it blocked some terms and blocked a number of terms related to the 18th Party Congress, including "area of political importance" (zhengzhi zhongxin qu) and "Sparta" (sibada), which sounds nearly identical to the common phrase for the 18th Party Congress (shiba da, or Mandarin for "eighteenth big"). The blog Greatfire.org, a Chinese-based Web site that tracks Internet censorship and access, reported that Sina Weibo, however, also had begun to allow some previously blocked Chinese terms—including the Chinese terms for "remember 89" and "river crab" (which is commonly used to refer to China's censorship, since it sounds like the Chinese term "harmony")—to appear in some search engine results (2 October 12).

  • Google Services Blocked: According to a November 9, 2012, New York Times (NYT) article, all Google services were inaccessible in China from November 9, 2012, to November 10, 2012, a period that coincided with the start of the 18th Party Congress. A Google representative reportedly told the NYT that Google was not experiencing any difficulties on its end, but “did not say whether it believed its sites had been blocked by the government or were the victims of hacking.” While Google did not say its services had been blocked by the Chinese government, Greatfire.org suggested that the blockage was likely a result of or connected to the 18th Party Congress (9 November 12, GreatFire.org). (For more information, please see the Google Transparency Report here.)

  • Censorship of the New York Times Web Site: In late October 2012, Chinese censors reportedly blocked access to both the English and the Chinese language versions of the the New York Times Web site, after the newspaper published an investigative article detailing Premier Wen Jiabao's family fortune and his family's business networks (25 October 12, NYT; 27 October 12, NYT). In addition, Chinese authorities blocked mentions of the "New York Times" and China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, in microblog posts on Sina Weibo. Despite the blockage, the NYT reported that the Web site had been accessed in China by Internet users with virtual private network (VPN) technology.

  • VPN Access Disrupted: According to a November 7, 2012, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, in the weeks leading up to the 18th Party Congress, access to virtual private networks (VPNs) "deteriorated"—VPNs are often used by foreigners and some Chinese Internet users to access foreign Web sites blocked by China's "Great Firewall." The WSJ reported that two VPN companies had experienced "an uptick in blockages and interferences."

Censorship Fails to Comply With International Human Rights Standards

Authorities have consistently defended official actions to limit Internet access. According to a November 13, 2012, NYT article, Chinese authorities that maintain online security restrictions and tight censorship are necessary "to fight pervasive fraud, cyberattacks, pornography and rumormongering."

Despite official claims, Chinese censorship of public expression and political commentary fails to comply with international human rights standards. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Articles 19 and 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights permit officials to restrict expression so long as it is (1) for the purpose of respecting the rights or reputations of others or protecting national security, public order, public health or morals, or the general welfare; (2) set forth in law; and (3) necessary and the least restrictive means to achieve the purported aim. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has said restrictions on "discussion of government policies and political debate," "peaceful demonstrations or political activities, including for peace or democracy," and "expression of... dissent," are inconsistent with Article 19 of the ICCPR. In June 2012, the UNHRC passed a resolution supporting freedom of expression on the Internet, affirming that "the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one's choice."

For more information on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, see Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2012 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-12-03 ) | Posted on: 2013-01-02  
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Beijing Authorities Detain Blogger for Satirical Tweet About 18th Party Congress

December 21, 2012

In early November 2012, Beijing public security officials reportedly detained businessman and prominent blogger Zhai Xiaobing for allegedly posting a joke on a social networking site about the highly anticipated 18th Party Congress. The post, which referenced the "Final Destination" horror film franchise, suggested that the Great Hall of the People would collapse on Party delegates at the upcoming event. Officials later revealed that Zhai was being investigated for "spreading terrorist information," a criminal charge that can carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. The detention—during a period of heightened sensitivity and increased censorship—sparked concern for the blogger's welfare and led to an online petition requesting Zhai's "unconditional release."

According to a November 21, 2012, Associated Press article, public security officials in Miyun County, Beijing, detained blogger and businessman Zhai Xiaobing on November 7, after he posted a joke on November 5, mocking the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (18th Party Congress). Zhai, who blogs under the user name @stariver, posted a satirical tweet mocking the 18th Party Congress, suggesting that the political event would resemble the "Final Destination" horror film franchise. The Associated Press reports that family members said authorities seized Zhai's computer and that public security officials later revealed Zhai was being criminally detained on suspicion of "spreading terrorist information," a crime under Article 291 of China's Criminal Law which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. Zhai's detention occurred as Chinese authorities experienced heightened sensitivity to political debate and took steps to limit free expression during the once-in-a-decade turnover of political leadership. (For more information on Internet censorship and the 18th Party Congress, please see Congressional-Executive Commission on China analysis here.)

According to a December 12, 2012, Radio Free Asia article, prominent Beijing blogger Liu Yanping reported that the Miyun County PSB Detention Center informed her that authorities released Zhai from the detention center on December 8, 2012. Liu said that Zhai's family had submitted a bail application as requested by police officials. Liu also suggested that because Zhai's family lacked experience in these circumstances, they were "easily intimidated" by authorities and were afraid to publicly discuss the incident.

English Translation of Zhai Xiaobing's Tweet

On November 5, 2012, Zhai Xiaobing posted the following satirical message on Twitter (translation provided by the CECC):

#Spoilertweet; #Proceed with Caution; Final Destination 6 is being released. The Great Hall of the People suddenly collapses, only 7 of the 2,000 plus people attending the meeting survive, yet each dies one-by-one in a bizarre fashion afterward. Is it God's game or Death's wrath? How did the mysterious number 18 open the gates of Hell? Shocking debut on November 8 in theaters worldwide!
Detention Sparks Online Petition Calling for Zhai's "Unconditional Release"

After Zhai's detention, prominent blogger Wen Yunchao, a Hong Kong media professional who blogs under the user name "Bei Feng," drafted an online petition (via Google Docs) calling on Beijing's public security personnel to release Zhai unconditionally. The petition statement requests that Beijing authorities "refrain from persecuting citizens for exercising their lawful right of free expression." According to Article 35 of the PRC Constitution, Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of the press. While Chinese law and international standards do permit restrictions on freedom of expression to protect national security or public order, the Commission has not observed any reports suggesting that Zhai's tweet was more than a sarcastic reference to the "Final Destination" film series. (For more information on expression restrictions and international standards for freedom of expression, please see pages 49–50 of the CECC 2012 Annual Report.) Despite China's Constitution and international standards, however, Chinese authorities routinely suppress speech—or harass citizens who exercise free speech rights—related to politically sensitive topics.

For more information on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, see Section III—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2012 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2012-12-03 ) | Posted on: 2012-12-21  
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Family Members and Supporters of Li Wangyang Detained and Harassed


December 21, 2012

Family members and supporters of labor activist and 1989 Tiananmen protester Li Wangyang continue to face arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement and communication following Li's death in June 2012. While reports indicate that authorities released some supporters in November 2012, others remain unaccounted for and at least two activists have been criminally prosecuted for their involvement in Li's case. Chinese authorities' actions contravene protections guaranteed in Chinese and international law. Continued restrictions on Li's supporters and family members also illustrate official apprehension over both his case and the calls both within and outside of China for a transparent inquiry into his death.

Following the death of labor advocate and 1989 Tiananmen protester Li Wangyang in June 2012, Chinese authorities have employed a range of coercive measures to intimidate and silence family members and supporters of Li who have questioned the circumstances of his death and called for an investigation into his case. Beginning in June 2012, the Commission observed various reports of security officials placing restrictions on family members and supporters of Li that some have characterized as a "crackdown" and "punishment" for raising suspicions about the circumstances of his death (Guardian, 17 August 12; South China Morning Post (SCMP), 20 June 12). Security officials used "soft detention" (ruanjin)—which includes home confinement, surveillance, restricted movement, and limited contact with others—in a majority of cases to control supporters and family members of Li (Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 18 July 12, 6 July 12). In some instances, authorities pressured family members and supporters of Li under detention to sign pledges not to pursue investigations into his death, while other reports indicate authorities threatened individuals with imprisonment and reeducation through labor if they discussed the details of Li's case publicly (Radio Free Asia (RFA), 24 September 12; Mingpao via Yahoo!, 13 September 12). Security officials also reportedly removed supporters of Li to unknown locations under the pretense of "being sent on vacation" (bei luyou) and failed to provide information to family members on the status and location of their detained relatives in many cases (CHRD, 16 July 12, 18 July 12).

In two cases reported on in June and July 2012, authorities criminally prosecuted two rights activists for reasons, several observers contend, that had to do with their criticism of officials over the handling of Li's death. Authorities detained Zhu Chengzhi, a longtime friend and advocate of Li's, on June 9, 2012, and later charged him with "inciting subversion" (Criminal Law, Art. 105(2)), and detained rights activist Xiao Yong on June 6 and later sentenced him to 18 months reeducation through labor in July. Family members and other individuals with knowledge of each case indicated that authorities' prosecution of Zhu and Xiao stemmed from their public opposition to the government's investigation and official account of Li's death. According to an August 17, 2012, Guardian article, Zhu's detention allegedly stemmed from him taking images of Li's body and sharing them online.

According to a November 26, 2012, RFA report, authorities in Shaoyang city, Hunan province released around 20 supporters of Li from house arrest following the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress in early November 2012. A number of those released had been held in detention at their homes or other unspecified locations since June 2012. The same article indicated, however, those activists released still faced restrictions on communication, while other supporters of Li—including his sister and brother-in-law—remain incommunicado and unaccounted for.

Continued Detention of Relatives and Supporters Raises Human Rights Concerns
Chinese authorities' actions against Li's supporters and family members contravene protections guaranteed under China's Constitution and prohibitions against arbitrary detention under international law. According to Article 37 of the PRC Constitution, the "deprivation or restriction of citizen's freedom of the person" is prohibited. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." According to Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), no one should be subjected to arbitrary and extralegal arrests or detentions. China signed the ICCPR in 1998 and has on multiple occasions expressed its intent to ratify the instrument. Under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (list of participating States Parties), a State Party has committed a crime of enforced disappearance when its agents arrest, detain, abduct, or otherwise deprive a person of liberty and then deny holding the person or conceal the fate or whereabouts of the person.

Background on Li Wangyang Case
On June 6, 2012, veteran pro-democracy activist Li Wangyang was found hanging in his hospital room in Shaoyang city, Hunan province where he had been receiving medical treatment following his release from prison in May 2011. Li had previously served 11 years in prison for forming an independent labor union and participating in the 1989 Tiananmen protests, and 10 years for going on a hunger strike to demand compensation for maltreatment suffered in prison(Human Rights in China (HRIC), 6 June 12).

Reports issued by international non-governmental organizations and news outlets highlighted procedural problems associated with officials' initial investigation of Li's death. According to one report, authorities restricted Li's family access to his body in the immediate aftermath of his death and prevented them from taking photographs inside his hospital room (HRIC, 6 June 12). Officials authorized an autopsy, which was conducted on June 8 in the absence of Li's family, and cremated his body on June 9, despite pledges from public security officials to delay cremation to allow for a family-appointed lawyer to participate in the autopsy (RFA, 8 June 12, 12 September 12; Voice of America, 13 June 12; SCMP, 10 June 12).

The suspicious circumstances surrounding Li's death received widespread media attention and prompted friends and family to question official claims that Li had committed suicide, in part due to his positive demeanor before his death, the many disabilities that hindered his mobility, and the fact that he was under police surveillance while at the hospital (Los Angeles Times, 6 June 12; HRIC, 6 June 12).

Citing attention from Hong Kong-based and international observers, public security officials in Hunan province announced on June 14 that a team of forensic experts and criminal investigators would reexamine Li's death (SCMP, 15 June 12; Ta Kung Pao, 15 June 12). On July 12, 2012, authorities published the results of their month-long investigation, determining that Li's death resulted from suicide (New York Times, 13 July 12; CHRD, 12 July 12). Suspicion over Li's death endures despite the government-led investigation. An August 2012, report compiled by an Australian forensic expert highlighted a number of irregularities in the authorities' investigation of Li's death, concluding that it failed to meet international standards for investigating a death in custody (SCMP, 24 August 12). Supporters of Li from China and abroad continue to call for an independent and comprehensive investigation into his death (RFA, 29 November 12).


Source: -See Summary (2012-12-19 ) | Posted on: 2012-12-21  
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NGOs Continue To Document Poor Working Conditions in Chinese Factories

December 19, 2012

In recent months, several international and Hong Kong-based labor NGOs have issued reports documenting labor violations at factories in China producing electronics and other goods for well-known brands such as Apple, Samsung, Mattel, Motorola, LG, Disney, McDonald's, and Hasbro. In some cases, reports continue to document poor working conditions at factories previously cited for violations. The reports highlight the lack of enforcement of Chinese labor laws and the absence of effective mechanisms to advocate on behalf of Chinese workers.

Conflicting Accounts of Labor Improvements at Foxconn
In August 2012, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) issued a report (August Report) following up on a March 2012 FLA investigation (March Investigation) of three Foxconn factories in Guangdong and Sichuan provinces. Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer which produces electronic products for major brands such as Apple, HP, Nokia, and Dell, previously agreed with Apple to implement a range of reforms to address labor violations documented in FLA's March investigation, including reducing overtime while protecting workers' pay, paying workers for overtime and work-related meetings outside regular working hours, ensuring interns "enjoy the protections necessary for a productive, healthy and safe educational experience," and enhancing worker involvement in committees and unions by ensuring "nominations and elections take place without management involvement" (March Investigation, pp. 12–13). In the August Report, FLA indicated "that necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, had been made," concluding that, "all remediation items due within the timeframe have been completed, with others ahead of schedule."

Observers have questioned the findings in FLA's August Report, asserting that poor working conditions continued to exist in these factories. In an August 23, 2012, Oriental Morning Post article, Beijing University Professor Lu Huilin criticized FLA's report for neglecting to report on problems related to management abuse and the use of dispatch labor, or subcontracted workers who often receive lower wages and have less job security than regular factory employees. Lu also raised concerns with the relationship between FLA and Apple, questioning the objectivity and independence of FLA's investigation. A November 8, 2012, report released by the Washington DC-based Economic Policy Institute found that "in contrast to the FLA's glowing assessment, improvements in working conditions at Foxconn have in most cases been modest, fleeting, or purely symbolic, while some key reform pledges have been broken outright."

Reports issued by labor NGOs in September and October 2012 documented additional labor violations at other Foxconn factories throughout China. On September 20, 2012, Hong Kong-based Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) issued a report following up on investigations conducted in April and May 2012 at three Foxconn plants in Zhengzhou city, Henan province. Their investigation, conducted in September 2012, found that workers continue to face "deplorably harsh working conditions," including excessive overtime of up to 100 hours per month, far exceeding the legal limit of 36 (see Article 41 of the PRC Labor Law), exploitative use of student intern and dispatch labor, inadequate training and protection from occupational injury, and abusive management practices requiring workers to obtain permits to go to the bathroom. On October 15, 2012, New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW) reported that interns as young as 14 were found working at a Foxconn plant in Shandong province. Articles published by China National Radio (15 October 12) and Beijing Times (16 October 12) also reported finding interns under the age of 16 working at this plant and an October 17, 2012, South China Morning Post article, quoted a statement released by Foxconn confirming these allegations. A spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Insurance pledged at an October 25, 2012, news conference to "resolutely put an end to the abuse of student workers,"when asked about the recent Foxconn allegations, however, labor NGOs continue to document the overuse of student workers in Chinese factories (See CLW, 4 September 12 and SACOM, 23 October 12 reports discussed below).

Labor Violations Found Throughout Electronics Industry
On September 4, 2012, CLW issued a report (September 4 Report) on working conditions at eight Samsung supplier factories, six of which are directly operated by Samsung, in Shandong, Guangdong, and Jiangsu provinces, and Tianjin municipality. The report, compiled from May to August 2012, found "the treatment of Samsung's Chinese factory workers is far from model." The investigation uncovered "an array of serious legal violations and labor abuses throughout these 8 factories," including excessive overtime, exhausting labor conditions requiring most workers to stand for the entirety of their shift, abuse of student workers and dispatch labor, harsh working conditions, extensive labor contract violations, abusive management practices, and discriminatory hiring practices.

Following release of the report, Samsung announced plans to investigate its Chinese suppliers for possible labor violations (CBS News, 4 September 12). On November 26, 2012, Samsung released a statement on its Web site affirming that its investigation had "identified several instances of inadequate practices at the facilities," including excessive overtime in violation of local laws, labor contract violations, and arbitrary fining of workers for lateness or absences. Samsung proposed a number of "corrective actions to address every violation that was identified," including new hiring policies, work hour and overtime practices, and other measures to improve health and wellbeing of workers.

On November 26, 2012, CLW issued a report following up on the findings documented in the September 4 Report. The follow-up report, compiled from October to November 2012, of five Samsung supplier factories, two of which were previously investigated in the September 4 Report, found that many of the labor violations previously uncovered continued unabated, concluding that "Samsung had made no improvement" since the publication of CLW's September 4 report.

On October 23, 2012, SACOM issued a report on Apple supplier Riteng Computer Accessory Co, Ltd., a maker of the iPad mini. The report covers the results of SACOM's investigation of Riteng's Shanghai factory, conducted in October 2012, which found widespread labor rights abuses, including excessive overtime of up to 200 hours per month, unpaid overtime, abuse of student interns and dispatch labor, and exposure to hazardous materials without proper safety equipment.

Labor Violations in Toy Industry
On November 29, 2012, CLW issued a report on working conditions at four Mattel factories in Guangdong province. The investigation of one directly owned Mattel factory and three contracted supplier factories, which also manufactured products for Disney, McDonald's, and Hasbro, found that all four factories "were riddled with legal and ethical violations." According to the report, workers were subject to inadequate training and protection from occupational injury, excessive overtime, hazardous living and working conditions, overuse of contract labor, and failure to provide insurance in accordance with legal requirements. The report found that despite previous evidence of labor violations documented by third-party auditors, all four factories had received a "seal of compliance" from Mattel.

Additional Commission Analysis
The regularity and consistency of the labor violations cited throughout these reports and previously documented by the Commission (See CECC, 24 July 12) suggests many of these problems are systemic throughout China's manufacturing industries. On July 31, 2012, the Commission held a hearing on working conditions and worker rights at which witnesses addressed the prevalence of harsh working conditions and the implementation of labor laws in China (online transcripts of witness testimony and video of the hearing are available here). For more information on China's labor laws and other issues relating to worker rights, please see Section II—Worker Rights in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2012 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2012-12-07 / English) | Posted on: 2012-12-19  
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State Council Issues Decision To Abolish or Revise Certain Administrative Licenses

December 19, 2012

In October 2012, the State Council issued its decision on abolishing or revising a batch of administrative licenses, or examinations and approvals. The decision, which covers a total of 314 items, is the sixth batch of cuts to administrative examinations and approvals since the government initiated the reform of the administrative approval system in 2001. According to the Chinese press, the reform's goal is to improve the environment for social and economic development and to curb corruption. Foreign investors increasingly have problems obtaining the administrative licenses they need to do business in China.


On October 10, 2012, the State Council issued its Decision on the Sixth Round of Items for Which Administrative Examination and Approval Will Be Abolished or Adjusted (2012 Decision). The 2012 Decision lists 171 administrative approvals that will no longer be required and 143 that will be adjusted. Of these 143, 117 will be devolved to a lower level government department (e.g., moved from the central level to the provincial level), the number of government departments required for an approval will be decreased for 9 items, and the approvals for 17 items will be combined with other approvals. The 2012 Decision also lists the original legal basis for such approvals, and the relevant implementing department. According to an October 11, 2012, article in People's Daily, this batch of cuts and adjustments focuses on investments, social enterprises, and non-administrative department licenses.

The deleted items cover approvals in a broad range of areas, such as the qualification for a registered consulting engineer (item 1), approvals for foreigners to hunt in certain areas (item 92), various forestry-related approvals (see, e.g., items 86 and 87), and approvals related to finance (see, e.g., items 97 to 120) and aviation (see, e.g., items 138 to 146). As to the items for which approvals will be devolved to lower levels of government, a number relate to foreign investment in service industries such as road transport (item 30) and auction companies (item 40). In these two examples, the approval authority will be moved from the central to the provincial level. Others devolved items relating to approvals in a range of areas such as family planning services (item 50), various types of standards (see, e.g., items 57 to 63), and fireworks wholesaling (item 75).

The People's Daily article notes that the government began to reform the administrative licensing and approval system in October 2001. According to a Xinhua report of August 22, 2012, "a total of 2,497 administrative approval items, including those in the sixth round, have been rescinded or adjusted in the past 10 years, accounting for 69.3 percent of the total." The report notes that the goal is to improve the environment for social and economic development and curb corruption. During this 10-year reform period, on July 1, 2004, the Administrative Licensing Law came into effect. The law was intended to limit the creation and implementation of administrative licensing (Article 1), and lists six areas where licenses may be required (Article 12). Also on July 1, 2004, the State Council Decision Establishing Administrative Examination and Approval Matters That Must Remain Subject to Administrative Licensing (Order 412) came into effect, listing 500 items for which approvals would be required. The 2012 Decision removes or adjusts over 100 of these listed items.

Administrative licensing has posed a problem for foreign investors in China. In the 2012 Business Climate Survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, 37 percent of respondents said that licensing procedures were becoming more difficult. Respondents noted that licensing slowed their expansion and investment in China, put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis their domestic Chinese competitors, slowed their hiring in China, limited their ability to export products from the United States to China, and limited profits. The US-China Business Council's 2012 China Business Environment Survey Results raised similar concerns, noting that "a potentially straightforward procedure, such as getting a business license, which ranked second in the list of challenges US companies [in China] face, can be a tool of government policy—in appearance or in fact—to restrict foreign entrants." Respondents reported administrative licensing as the second most significant challenge they faced doing business in China and the top area in which they experience Chinese protectionism.

As the US-China Business Council's survey report notes, "Licenses or approvals are required for each aspect of doing business in China, governing everything from the specific products or services the company can provide, to the testing and approval of the product itself, to reviews of business transactions, including both greenfield investments and mergers and acquisitions." (p 8) While administrative licensing poses problems for foreign companies operating in China, in a China Law & Practice article published in June 2004, attorney Lester Ross notes that "those most affected have been Chinese citizens lacking sufficient guanxi." While the reforms under the 2012 Decision are a step in the right direction, considerable work remains to be done.

For a Commission analysis of an early case brought under the Administrative Licensing Law, see "Farmers Claim Administrative License for Power Plant Was Issued Illegally."



Source: -See Summary (2012-12-07 / Free) | Posted on: 2012-12-19  
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Authorities Heighten Persecution of Detained Mongol Rights Advocate's Wife and Son

December 13, 2012

Authorities in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia (IMAR), tightened restrictions on the freedoms of movement and communication of Xinna, the wife of 56-year-old detained Mongol rights advocate Hada, and the couple's son, Uiles, between October and December 2012. The heightened restrictions began after Xinna spoke to Western media and rights groups about Chinese authorities' treatment of Hada in extralegal detention and his deteriorating mental condition. Both Xinna and Uiles reportedly remain under home confinement. Hada remains in official custody without apparent legal basis, despite the expiration of his 15-year prison sentence on December 10, 2010. As noted in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Political Prisoner Database, authorities imprisoned Hada after he organized peaceful protests for Mongols' rights in 1995. Hada's continued extralegal detention underscores the repercussions Mongols have faced from the Chinese government for promoting their rights and seeking to preserve their culture, language, and pastoral livelihoods.

The U.S.-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) reported on November 7, 2012, that the organization had lost contact with Xinna and Uiles for two weeks. Xinna and Uiles lost contact with the outside world again in early December, according to Radio Free Asia, which reported on December 5, 2012, that it was unable to contact Xinna or Uiles by phone. On December 10, SMHRIC published letters that each had written in November to Chinese officials. In his letter, Uiles appeals to incoming President Xi Jinping to "please send your Public Security personnel to execute me and my mother or arrest and take us away lest we die at home of hunger and suffering."

Both SMHRIC and New York-based rights group Human Rights in China (HRIC, 22 October 12) conducted lengthy interviews with Xinna in October 2012, during which she described her husband's condition during her last visit with him on September 17, 2012. Xinna stated that Hada appeared "sluggish" and in poor mental health. In several interviews, Xinna stated that Hada is suffering from depression, and that a doctor who observed Hada had urged that he be transferred to a mental health hospital or receive specialized psychiatric care, but authorities refused to allow this. (Associated Press via The Guardian, 15 October 12) She also stated that authorities at Jinye Ecological Park, the location in eastern Hohhot where he is currently being detained, were maltreating him, denying him toilet paper for more than a year and restricting his access to newspapers. She told Radio Free Asia (23 October 12) that police informed her she would not be allowed to visit her husband in October 2012, due to interviews she had given to foreign media.

In interviews with SMHRIC and HRIC, Xinna also spoke of authorities' treatment of her and her son in recent months, describing how authorities had placed them under intense surveillance, restricted their movements, limited their telephone and Internet access, forbidden them from speaking to overseas media, and prevented them from earning a living. She said that following the interviews she had recently given to overseas media, police and domestic security officials had threatened to arrest her if she continued speaking with foreign journalists. She also spoke of suffering from heart problems and other health conditions that had worsened following her arrest and detention in 2010. In addition, she stated that authorities had threatened and harassed her relatives, including her 84-year-old mother and her siblings, in an effort to stop her family from speaking publicly about their situation.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle on November 23, 2012, Xinna said that her phone connection had been restored just two days earlier. In this and earlier interviews, she said authorities had forbidden her from running a bookstore as she had previously done in order to earn a living.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia on November 20, 2012, Uiles said authorities had recently intimidated both former bookstore customers and his classmates, for having contact with him and his mother. He expressed frustration that authorities had denied him permission to visit his father for more than a month, in spite of his compliance with authorities' requests that he not speak out in public about his father's treatment. He said authorities regularly delayed monthly subsidies to him and his mother while depriving him of his right to work. He stated that more than 10 domestic security personnel followed him whenever he went out to attend photography classes.

Authorities reportedly released Xinna from the Hohhot No. 1 PSB Detention Center in April 2012, after handing her a three-year suspended prison term for "running an illegal business." Public security officers arrested Xinna in December 2010 around the same time as Uiles' arrest, on the eve of the expiration of Hada's prison sentence. In October 2012, Xinna told the Associated Press that authorities had detained her and subsequently placed her under home confinement over the past two years in an effort to silence her family. Uiles was detained for nine months in the Hohhot No. 3 PSB Detention Center beginning in December 2010 after being accused of "illegal drug possession," and was reportedly released after signing an agreement not to accept interviews from foreign journalists. Xinna and Uiles have asserted that authorities trumped up the charges against them in an effort to silence their public expressions of concern over Hada's situation.

Xinna told HRIC that she and Uiles had been allowed to live with Hada on three occasions since December 2010, but the total amount of time the family spent together was less than 50 days. In September 2012, she wrote to an official with the IMAR Political and Legal Affairs Commission to request Hada's release from illegal detention and an end to officials' harassment of her and her family members. In addition, the letter requests that regional authorities take disciplinary action against prison officials who are directly responsible for Hada's treatment.

For more information on authorities' treatment of Hada and his family and conditions in the IMAR, please see previous CECC analysis and Section II—Ethnic Minority Rights in the CECC 2012 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-12-12 ) | Posted on: 2012-12-13  
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Democracy Advocate Cao Haibo Sentenced to Eight Years for Subversion

December 4, 2012

Chinese authorities sentenced democracy advocate Cao Haibo to eight years' imprisonment on the charge of "subversion of state power" for creating online discussion groups and sending text messages relating to democratic reforms and the philosophies of Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang). Cao's trial was marred by procedural issues, and his sentence disregards international norms and PRC Constitutional principles. His verdict also demonstrates the continuing trend of harsh sentences for democracy advocates.

On October 31, 2012, the Kunming Intermediate People's Court sentenced democracy advocate Cao Haibo to eight years in prison on the charge of "subversion of state power" (Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 1 November 12). The same article noted the charges related to Cao's discussions of democratic reforms and constitutional rights in an online chat group called "Society to Strengthen China" (Zhenhuahui). According to a November 5, 2012, Human Rights in China (HRIC) article, Cao also created other online chat forums to talk about the Three Principles of the People, a political philosophy created by Sun Yat-sen, a leader of the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and the first provisional president of the Republic of China (1911–1912) who was considered to be the father of modern China. (Encyclopedia Britannica, online). A December 6, 2011, Independent Chinese Pen (ICPC) article via Boxun noted Cao's wife, Zhang Nian, remarked that Cao expressed in an overseas online forum approval of Sun Yet-sen's purported advocacy of violent revolution. The article also noted that she said Cao was just venting his opinions online. The author of the article noted "expression should be distinguished from action." In addition, a November 1, 2012, Reuters article said Cao's lawyer remarked that Cao had tried to form the "China Republican Party," which a November 1, 2012, New York Times article noted had only "existed on paper, and only for one day."

Authorities Modified Charges Against Cao, Warned Wife to Remain Silent
Authorities modified the original charge against Cao, basing his sentence on more serious allegations. According to a March 7, 2012, CHRD briefing, officials from the Xishan district, Kunming Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB), Yunnan province, first detained Cao on October 21, 2011, and formally arrested him on November 25 on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power," a crime under Article 105, paragraph 2 of the PRC Criminal Law. News reports do not indicate why authorities modified the allegations against Cao and tried him on the more serious charge of "subversion of state power," a crime under Article 105, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Law. PSB officials purportedly warned Cao's wife not to talk about Cao's case (ICPC via Boxun, 6 December 11; CHRD via Boxun, 6 November 12).

Cao's Opaque Trial
The sentencing came five months after the court tried Cao in a closed trial on May 23, 2012, (HRIC, 23 May 12). Prior to the hearing, authorities reportedly held Cao in the Xishan District Detention Center in Kunming (CHRD, 1 November 12). Authorities did not allow a public trial because they claimed Cao's case involved state secrets, according to the May 23 HRIC article. The November 5, 2012, HRIC article noted Cao's lawyer as saying that Cao's "trial procedure was certainly incorrect" because the court did not inform the family of the trial. Authorities also reportedly did not notify Cao's lawyer or family members about the October 31 sentencing hearing beforehand (CHRD, 1 November 12); nor did they provide a sentencing notice (HRIC, 5 November 12).

Sentence Disregards International Norms and Chinese Constitution
Chinese authorities' actions against Cao are questionable under international law which protects free speech and under the Chinese Constitution which protects freedom of association. Both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 29) require that any restriction on free expression be limited to that which is "necessary" to protect national security, public order, or public health or morals. According to a 2009 resolution of the UN Human Rights Council (Item 5(p)(i), 12 October 09, A/HRC/RES/12/16 -click on resolution number at this link, then click on your language of choice), governments should refrain from imposing restrictions on activities including reporting on human rights, or engaging in political debate, peaceful demonstrations, and political activities. Principle 6 of the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (Article 19 via UN Refugee Agency), which were endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression at several sessions of the UN Commission on Human Rights in the late 1990s and 2001, provides that expression may be punished as a threat to national security only if a government can demonstrate that "the expression is intended to incite imminent violence, is likely to incite such violence, and there is a direct and immediate connection between the expression and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence." In addition, the PRC Constitution protects the freedoms of speech and association. Article 35 of the Constitution states: "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."

Authorities Continue Trend of Harsh Sentences for Democracy Advocates
Over the last year and a half, authorities imposed harsh sentences on other democracy advocates, including Chen Wei (9 years), Chen Xi (10 years), and Zhu Yufu (7 years). Other democracy advocates who have received long prison terms in recent years include Li Tie (10 years), Liu Xianbin (10 years), Guo Quan (10 years), and Xie Changfa (13 years).

For more information on some of these cases, see previous CECC analyses:
  1. "Authorities Suppress Calls for an Official Accounting in Lead-Up to 23rd Anniversary of Crackdown on 1989 Protest," (5 June 12),
  2. "Zhu Yufu Case: Application of Inciting Subversion Provisions Fell Short of International Standards" (23 March 12),
  3. "2011 Crackdown Update: Ding Mao, Chen Wei, and Ran Yunfei" (15 November 11),
  4. "Authorities Crack Down on Rights Defenders, Lawyers, Artists, Bloggers" (3 May 11).
For more information on official actions against democracy advocates and China's institutions of democratic governance see the CECC 2012 Annual Report (pp. 125-132) and the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 158-169).

Source: -See Summary (2012-11-07 / Free) | Posted on: 2012-12-04  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on the Trial and Sentencing of Chen Kegui

Congressional-Executive Commission on China
www.cecc.gov


November 30, 2012

(Washington, DC)—Today we are deeply dismayed to learn that authorities have sentenced Chen Kegui, nephew of renowned legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, to more than three years in prison, in a trial marred from beginning to end by glaring procedural violations. Authorities' treatment of this case raises serious questions about the rule of law in China.

Under Chinese law, Mr. Chen has a right to family visitation and access to legal counsel of his own choice, and yet authorities have prohibited visits from either his family or his lawyers for the duration of his detention. Mr. Chen also has a right under Chinese law to a fair and open trial. Instead, authorities gave Chen's family only hours' notice before the trial began, did not permit family members to enter the courtroom, and allowed only government-appointed lawyers to defend Chen, instead of the lawyers his family had formally retained. No witnesses of Chen's alleged crime were permitted to attend the trial.

We also remain deeply concerned about Chen Kegui's condition, recalling clearly the mistreatment that his uncle Chen Guangcheng and other family members have endured when in official custody. The Chinese government must guarantee his safety and well-being, and ensure that his fundamental rights are fully protected.

We remind the Chinese government that it has not yet fulfilled its promise to investigate the illegal actions taken against Chen Guangcheng, and we reiterate our calls for a thorough investigation and prompt punishment of injustices committed against Chen and his family at the hands of officials.



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Source: -See Summary (2012-12-03 ) | Posted on: 2012-12-03  
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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: 202–226–3766

October 10, 2012

Washington, DC—The 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—with 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  
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Special Report: Tibetan Self-Immolation—Rising Frequency, Wider Spread, Greater Diversity

August 22, 2012

The frequency, geographic spread, and diversity of Tibetans who reportedly have committed self-immolation as they called for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama's return has increased since a December 2011 Commission report. The December report covered 13 self-immolations (8 reported fatal) that occurred from February 2009 to December 2011. All 13 of those self-immolations involved current or former monks or nuns; 12 took place in Sichuan province. Since then, as of August 10, 2012, an additional 33 Tibetans reportedly have committed similar self-immolation protests (29 reported fatal). Of these 33 self-immolations, 13 took place outside Sichuan province and 14 were persons who did not have a monastic background (i.e., laypersons).

The wave of self-immolations is concurrent with increasing Chinese Communist Party and government use of legal measures to repress and control core elements of Tibetan culture, and with the failure of the China-Dalai Lama dialogue process to achieve any sign of progress. The Party and government have also not indicated any willingness to consider Tibetan grievances in a more constructive manner and to hold themselves accountable for Tibetan rejection of Chinese policies. The Party and government have handled the crisis as a threat to state security and social stability instead of a policy failure.

Note: This report covers the period up to August 10, 2012.

View complete PDF here.

Source: -See Summary (2012-08-22 ) | Posted on: 2012-08-22  
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NGOs Report Harsh Conditions at Chinese Factories Making Popular Electronics

July 24, 2012

In recent months, several worker rights NGOs have issued reports documenting poor working conditions at factories in China producing electronic products for well-known brands such as Apple, HP, Nokia, Dell, AT&T, and Motorola. The reports underscore Chinese workers' inability to form independent unions to advocate for their rights and lack of enforcement of Chinese labor laws.

SACOM Report (May 2012)

On May 31, 2012, the Hong Kong-based Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) issued a report following up on an investigation undertaken by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) at Foxconn factories in China. Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, employs more than one million workers in China who make iPads, iPhones, laptops and other electronic products for major brands such as Apple, HP, Nokia, and Dell. In January, the New York Times ran a front-page article on Foxconn factories in China detailing "onerous work environments" and "serious" safety problems. In February, FLA began investigating the alleged violations, and in March issued a report noting "serious and pressing noncompliances" with Chinese labor law and FLA's code of conduct. Apple and Foxconn agreed to implement the report's recommendations, including ensuring "elections of worker representatives without management interference," reducing overtime to the legal limit by July 2013 while protecting workers' pay, and paying workers "fairly for all overtime and work-related meetings that occur outside regular working hours."

From March to May 2012, SACOM conducted a follow-up survey of Foxconn facilities in Zhengzhou city, Henan province, and the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, and interviewed more than 170 workers making mostly Apple products. The report found that labor violations "remain the norm." Among the report's findings include:
  • Lack of freedom of association. The report found that workers viewed the company's unions as unhelpful and mere "window dressing." According to one worker, "Everyone knows the union here is controlled by the company." The report found that supervisors had begun signing up workers without explaining the union's purpose.
  • Problems relating to overtime. The report found that Apple's demands for short delivery times led some workers to work up to 80 hours of overtime a month, far exceeding the legal limit of 36 (see Article 41 of the PRC Labor Law). The report found that overtime had decreased since February 2012, but that demand for productivity had increased. Workers complained of exhaustion because of new production targets and of being ordered to work until the target was met. The cuts in overtime also made it more difficult for workers to earn a living wage. On occasion the company did not pay workers for overtime work.
  • Harsh working and living conditions. Workers reported being ordered to write confession letters, and to move boxes and clean toilets as punishment. Workers also reported handling unknown chemicals, while management faced disincentives to report injuries. Workers criticized a hotline for not being helpful or independent from management.
China Labor Watch Report (June 2012)

On June 27, 2012, New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW) issued a report on other Apple supplier factories in China to see if problems at Foxconn were present in other parts of Apple's supply chain. Their investigation of ten Apple supplier factories in Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Jiangsu province, conducted from January to April 2012, found that "the labor rights violations at Foxconn also exist in virtually all other Apple supplier factories, and in many cases are actually significantly more dire than at Foxconn." The report found the following problems at the factories: excessive overtime of up to 180 hours per month; dangerous working conditions; unfair calculation of working time; poor food quality; lack of familiarity with unions and their function; low wages; high work intensity; lack of provision of insurance required by law; and lack of proper pay for overtime work. The report found that a major overlooked problem was the overuse of "dispatched labor," or the hiring of short-term labor without the benefits and limits on overtime of regular employment. The report is currently unavailable on the CLW Web site, but Reuters reported on it on June 28.

Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights Report (June 2012)

In June 2012, the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, a Pittsburgh-based worker rights organization, issued a report on working conditions at plants in Dongguan city, Guangdong province. The plants are run by VTech, a Hong Kong-based company that is reportedly the world's largest manufacturer of cordless phones. The report noted VTech produces phones for AT&T, Motorola, Deutsche Telekom, and Telstra (Australia), some of which are sold at stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Staples, Sears, among others. According to the report, workers at the Chinese plants were forced to work excessive overtime, subject to beatings, forced to stand all day, and housed in cramped living quarters without showers. The report also found VTech forced workers who failed to meet production goals to work without pay, denied its workers social security benefits, and denied workers who quit one month's wages. The report cited incidence of worker suicides.

Following release of the report, VTech issued a statement "categorically" rejecting the allegations and saying it was "now considering taking appropriate legal action." According to a June 25 Current (Australia) article, VTech said overtime is voluntary and complies with China's Labor Law and denied allegations that employees are denied benefits or beaten. The Australia-based Telstra, citing deep concern over the institute's report, announced that it was temporarily suspending sales and rentals of its VTech products, according to a June 22 Current article. Telstra later resumed sale of the products after an investigation, according to a July 5 Register article.

Source: -See Summary (2012-06-25 ) | Posted on: 2012-07-24  
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Authorities Suppress Calls for an Official Accounting in Lead-Up to 23rd Anniversary of Crackdown on 1989 Protests

June 5, 2012

In the lead-up to the 23rd anniversary of Chinese authorities' violent suppression on June 3-4, 1989, of protests in Beijing and other cities in China, Chinese citizens continued to call for an official accounting of those events and for a re-evaluation of the "verdict" of the protests as a "counterrevolutionary riot." Authorities responded by restricting the movements of people attempting to hold memorial events. Officials also continued to censor references to June 4 on the Internet. In recent months, Chinese officials have also continued to impose harsh sentences on citizens who have peacefully advocated for democracy.

As in previous years, some Chinese citizens continued this year to ask Chinese leaders for an investigation into the 1989 protests and a reversal of the "verdict" of these protests as a "counterrevolutionary riot" (China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 1 June 12). Human Rights in China (HRIC)released on June 1, a statement by the Tiananmen Mothers, a group of parents representing Tiananmen victims, stating that they will not relinquish or change their three demands—"for truth, compensation, and accountability" (HRIC, 31 May 12, English and Chinese). The statement noted that 10 years ago, the Communist Party and the Chinese government verbally acknowledged democracy and human rights were universal human values, and that Premier Wen Jiabao had advocated for reform. It noted, however, that "violations of human and civil rights have reached an extreme level, the gap between rich and poor has widened dramatically, systemic corruption is out of control, the moral bottom line is near collapse, sudden mass incidents continue to keep occurring again and again. ...Maintaining stability has become China's top priority in order to preserve the firmness of the ruling party's power."

In 2008, Chinese authorities rebuffed the suggestion made by the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) to provide an official accounting of the response to the Tiananmen protests. In the December 12, 2008, fourth periodic report on China, UNCAT suggested that Chinese authorities "conduct a full and impartial investigation into the suppression of the Democracy Movement in Beijing in June 1989, provide information on the persons who are still detained from that period, inform the family members of their findings, offer apologies and reparation as appropriate and prosecute those found responsible for excessive use of force, torture and other ill-treatment." The Chinese government's formal response, published by UNCAT on December 10, 2008, accused the UN committee of introducing "many inaccuracies...for example, they claim that China 'suppressed' the so-called '1989 Democracy Movement.'"

According to a report by Dui Hua, a San Francisco-based nongovernment organization, less than a dozen Chinese citizens remain imprisoned for their participation in the 1989 protests (Dui Hua, 31 May 12).

In recent days, citizens in China gathered to memorialize the 1989 protests, and in some locations authorities responded by restricting the freedom of movement of participants. On May 27, citizens in Guiyang municipality, Guizhou province, gathered to commemorate June 4, including Mi Chongbiao, Yong Zhiming, Mo Jiangang, Tian Zuxiang, and Li Kezhen, according to the CHRD June 1 article and a June 1, 2012, Radio Free Asia article (English). While officials did not disrupt the demonstration as it took place, later that evening and in the days following, they began to detain people involved, according to the same articles. Police searched the homes of Mi and Yong, confiscating their computers.

Similar events occurred in other locations in China. On May 30, in Nanping city, Fujian province, activist Fan Yanqiong reportedly led petitioners in a demonstration, according to the CHRD June 1 article and a June 1, 2012, Radio Free Asia article (Chinese). The petitioners demanded that authorities overturn the "verdict" of the 1989 protests. After the demonstration, public security officials reportedly tailed Fan home, surrounded her building, and restricted her movements for at least three days. In Jinan municipality, Shandong province, about 20 people successfully gathered in early May to commemorate June 4, including retired professor Sun Wenguang. Sun reportedly said authorities have restricted his movements since May 15. (Mingbao, via Sina, 1 June 12)

Authorities blocked online access to news and information containing direct or vague references to June 4. Authorities reportedly blocked access to numerous terms on the Internet, including "six four," "23," "candle," and "never forget" (Guardian, 4 June 12). Authorities reportedly also began blocking the words "Shanghai Stock Market" and "index" on the Internet likely because the Shanghai stock market fell 64.89 points on Monday (June 4); and the Shanghai Composite Index opened at 2346.98, which may have been construed as a reference to the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 protests (LA Times, 4 June 12.)

In recent months, Chinese officials have continued to impose harsh sentences on citizens who have peacefully advocated for democracy. In December 2011, authorities sentenced Chen Wei to nine years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" in connection with essays he wrote touching on political issues that were posed on overseas Web sites. In February 2012, authorities sentenced Zhu Yufu to seven years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" for his writings, including a poem, and his alleged association with the China Democracy Party. Additional democracy advocates receiving long prison terms in recent years include Li Tie (10 years), Liu Xianbin (10 years), Guo Quan (10 years), and Xie Changfa (13 years).

Source: -See Summary (2012-06-04 / English) | Posted on: 2012-06-05  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on the Arrival of Chen Guangcheng in the United States

Congressional-Executive Commission on China
www.cecc.gov


May 19, 2012

(Washington, DC)—Today we are relieved to learn that Chen Guangcheng, his wife, and two children have arrived safely in the United States. Mr. Chen endured more than four years in prison in China, after which he and his family suffered for more than a year and a half under brutal conditions of illegal home confinement.

As chairs of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China we join many other Americans in welcoming him and his family to our country.

We remain deeply concerned, however, that Mr. Chen’s supporters and family members who remain in China face the real threat of retaliation from Chinese officials. The Chinese government must guarantee their safety and well-being, and ensure that their fundamental rights to free expression, liberty of movement, and access to counsel are fully protected.

The Chinese government must also fulfill its promise to investigate the illegal actions taken against Mr. Chen, and demonstrate that China respects the rule of law.

Mr. Chen exposed abuses in China’s population planning policy, including forced abortion and sterilization. He advocated for the disabled and villagers poisoned by water pollution. Others continue to fight for women's rights, worker rights, freedom of religion, and an end to corruption.

Finally, we remain concerned for the countless other human rights advocates who continue to fight every day, just as Mr. Chen did, to make their country better. The Chinese government must end its repression of these brave citizens and show, once and for all, its commitment to human rights and the rule of law.


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Source: -See Summary (2012-05-19 ) | Posted on: 2012-06-05  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on the 23rd Anniversary of the Tiananmen Crackdown

Congressional-Executive Commission on China
www.cecc.gov


June 5, 2012

(Washington, DC)—This week marks the passing of another year since the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown on innocent civilians who demonstrated in Tiananmen Square and across China for democracy and an end to corruption. Powerful reminders of that avoidable tragedy are everywhere in China. A generation of parents still grieves the loss of sons and daughters. Chinese citizens still seek justice that eludes them because of China’s failure to provide an honest and open accounting of its actions. Those who peacefully sought change on the square, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, have been exiled, imprisoned, tortured, and marginalized. And a nation is unable to freely discuss an event that remains censored from its history books.

More broadly, China remains woefully resistant to any meaningful progress on human rights and the rule of law. Events this year prove this point. The Chen Guangcheng case and the abuse of workers at Foxconn factories illustrated the complete impunity towards the rule of law that remains rampant in China. The Bo Xilai scandal has exposed the opacity and inherent instability of China’s political process. And deteriorating conditions for Tibetans and Uyghurs highlight the failure of repressive policies that deny ethnic minorities their cultural and religious rights. Behind gleaming structures and lofty rhetoric is a country that, for all its economic activity, does not respect basic human rights, and where the rule of law is but an empty, unfulfilled promise.

We remain committed to the people of China struggling for freedoms and we urge the Chinese government to learn from the past and embrace the greater openness, democracy, and respect for human rights that its people called for 23 years ago, and continue to call for today. Only by doing so, can China embark on a path toward lasting peace, stability, and prosperity.

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Source: -See Summary (2012-06-05 ) | Posted on: 2012-06-05  
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Gansu and Shandong Provinces Issue New Regulations on Religion

January 18, 2012

Since China's national Regulation on Religious Affairs entered into force in 2005, a number of provincial governments have followed suit with new or amended local regulations on religion. In some respects, new regulations from Shandong and Gansu provide more clarity, legal protections, and consistency than the older regulations they replace, but all within the restrictive framework of China's controls over religious practice. Such framework offers some limited protections but falls far short of international standards for religious freedom. The regulations also codify more extensive controls over religious practice in some regards, and many legal protections are limited to groups and venues registered with the government. The regulations differ from each other in some respects, reflecting a trend in variation among provincial regulations, even as local regulations on religion move toward greater uniformity with the national regulation.

Gansu and Shandong provinces have issued new regulations on religious affairs, following implementation of the national Regulation on Religious Affairs (national RRA) in 2005 and subsequent passage of several other provincial-level regulations on religion. The Gansu provincial People's Congress Standing Committee passed the Gansu Province Regulation on Religious Affairs (Gansu RRA) on September 29, 2011. It entered into force on December 1. The region's earlier legal measures on religion, the 1991 Gansu Province Temporary Provisions on the Management of Religious Affairs, were annulled in 2005. The Shandong provincial People's Congress Standing Committee passed the Shandong Province Regulation on Religious Affairs (Shandong RRA) also on September 29, 2011. The regulation entered into force on January 1, 2012, and replaces the province's 2000 Shandong Regulation on the Management of Religious Affairs. Since the national RRA entered into force, the governments of Qinghai, Jilin, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hainan, Shanghai, Shanxi, Henan, Zhejiang, Anhui, Beijing, Chongqing, Hunan, Liaoning, Sichuan, Tibet Autonomous Region, Hebei, Jiangxi, and Shaanxi also have reported issuing new or amended regulations on religious affairs.

More Clarity But More Formal Controls
Like other provincial-level regulations, the new Gansu and Shandong regulations provide more clarity, legal protections, and consistency in some respects over the regulations they replace, but all within the restrictive framework of China's controls over religious practice. Such framework offers some limited protections but falls far short of international standards for religious freedom. (See Section II—Freedom of Religious in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2011 Annual Report for additional information on this framework.) The regulations also codify greater formal controls in a number of areas. For example, the Gansu RRA now clarifies that outdoor religious statues may be built outside religious venues (Article 18, compared to no mention in the earlier regulation), but links the process to stipulations in the national RRA requiring several stages of government approval (Article 24). Both the Gansu and national regulations also stipulate that non-religious groups and venues may not build outdoor statues, a prohibition that would appear to apply to religious entities not registered with the government. In addition, the Shandong RRA provides more detailed stipulations on religious publications than the earlier regulation from the province (Article 8 compared to Article 6), clarifying the required process for publishing different types of materials though also reinforcing government control over the process. The Gansu and Shandong regulations also now specify new formal restrictions in areas such as Tibetan Buddhist practices (in the Gansu RRA, per below) and large-scale religious activities (Articles 27 and 29 in each regulation, respectively). In addition, as in the case of constructing outdoor statues, most of the legal safeguards within the regulations apply only to registered religious organizations and venues, thereby excluding religious communities that choose not to submit to state control or that are unable to meet the qualifications to register with the government.

State-Sanctioned Religious Groups
The Shandong RRA specifies Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism as the religions covered by the regulation (Article 48), as did the province's older RRA (Article 37) and Gansu's earlier temporary provisions on religious affairs (Article 3). The national RRA does not specify five state-sanctioned religions, nor does the new Gansu RRA, thus appearing to allow the possibility under law that some other religions could be recognized, though the Chinese government has not done so to date at the national level. Among local-level regulations, a limited number recognize the Orthodox Church.

Worship at Home
The national RRA and the new provincial regulations require that collective religious activities "in general" be held at registered venues (National RRA, Article 12; Gansu RRA, Article 25; Shandong RRA, Article 25). The Shandong RRA also includes a stipulation recognizing that religious believers may carry out some religious activity within one's own home (Article 26). Some other recent provincial-level regulations include similar provisions, though wording on this varies. (See, for example, a previous CECC analysis for a comparison among four provincial regulations.) The Shandong RRA provides that "citizens who believe in a religion and their relatives may, in accordance with religious custom, live a religious life within one's home, but may not influence other people's normal work and lives." (See a similar provision in Article 21 of the older Shandong regulation, minus the qualification on influencing others' work and lives.)

While the new Gansu and national RRAs are silent on home worship, the central government has addressed this issue. The 1997 White Paper on Freedom of Religious Belief states, "There is no registration requirement for, to quote from Chinese Christians, 'house services,' which are mainly attended by relatives and friends for religious activities such as praying and Bible reading" (White Paper from the Web site of the State Administration for Religious Affairs and also available in English on the Web site of the China Internet Information Center). The statement does not clarify the permitted scope of such services, however, nor does it address services held outside the home at venues unregistered with the government (also sometimes referred to as house churches). In a November 11 interview with Phoenix TV (via Open Source Center, subscription required, CPP20111116702009), Wang Zuo'an, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, appeared to dismiss the prevalence of house churches as religious venues independent of state control. He noted in the context of a survey conducted on Chinese Christianity, "I personally do not recognize the notion of this so-called 'house church,' there is no such a problem as with this church...." Against the backdrop of ambiguous policy statements, coupled with lack of clear legal protections in the law, authorities have targeted for closure religious meetings in private homes as well as unregistered venues. (See, e.g., CECC analyses 1, 2, 3.)

Controls over Tibetan Buddhism
The Gansu RRA includes a stipulation (Article 21), absent in the earlier provincial provisional measures, giving the authority to supervise and approve the succession of living Buddhas to the state-controlled Buddhist associations, and mandating that succession procedures follow existing "relevant provisions"—a reference to the 2007 national measures regulating the reincarnation of living Buddhas. The stipulation also forbids individuals and groups from engaging in activities related to this without authorization and forbids "interference or domination from any organization or individual outside the borders." The provisions accord with and reinforce the national measures regulating the reincarnation of living Buddhas (analysis here), amid a trend of tighter formal controls over the fundamental institutions and practices of Tibetan Buddhism.

For more information on regulation of religion in China, see CECC analyses of the Jiangsu, Hubei, and Hainan regulations, Shanghai, Shanxi, Henan, and Zhejiang regulations, amendments to the Anhui regulation, amendments to the Beijing regulation, and regulations from Chongqing and Hunan. See also Section II—Freedom of Religion in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.



Source: -See Summary (2012-01-17 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Authorities Try Human Rights Activist Ni Yulan, Verdict Pending

January 6, 2012

Authorities tried human rights lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin on December 29, 2011, on charges of "picking quarrels" and "fraud." The court reportedly is considering the defense's request for access to new evidence. If convicted, Ni could face a lengthy sentence and the possibility of life imprisonment. Since 2002, authorities have repeatedly subjected Ni to intense harassment, including physically crippling her, revoking her license to practice law, and detaining and imprisoning her.

According to the New York Times and Human Rights in China, on December 29, 2011, authorities tried dissident human rights lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin on charges of "picking quarrels" and "fraud" under China's Criminal Law. Their lawyer entered a not guilty plea and requested access to new evidence, which the Xicheng District Court reportedly has taken under consideration. According to Ni and Dong's indictment (Chinese), the underlying charges stem from the couple's alleged refusal to pay for their hotel room, arguments with hotel staff, and Ni's alleged misrepresentation of facts surrounding her case and herself as a lawyer for the purpose of defrauding money from others.

According to Human Rights in China, authorities prevented some witnesses for the defense from testifying in court by preventing them from leaving their homes. In addition, authorities also detained Ni and Dong's supporters around Beijing. The couple's daughter was able to testify in court on behalf of the couple for approximately 10 minutes.

If convicted, Ni could face a lengthy sentence. According to China's Criminal Law (Chinese), the crime of "picking quarrels" (Article 293) causing societal discord is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment plus fines. The crime of "fraud" (Article 266) is punishable by up to 3 years for "relatively large sums," 3 to 10 years for "large sums or other serious circumstances," and up to life imprisonment for "very large sums or especially serious circumstances." According to the indictment, authorities are seeking to punish Ni as a "recidivist" based on Article 65 of the Criminal Law.

Ni garnered international attention for her advocacy work on behalf of residents adversely affected by the Chinese government's efforts to demolish homes in light of the then upcoming 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Detained while trying to take photographic evidence, authorities eventually sentenced Ni for "obstruction of official business" in 2002 to one year, and for the same crime in 2008 for two years. While in custody, authorities beat Ni, permanently crippling her. Since her release, authorities have continuously harassed Ni and Dong, employing tactics such as detention, cutting off electricity and water, and revoking Ni's license to practice law. For the currently alleged offenses, authorities detained Ni in April 2011 amidst the harsh crackdown against human rights activists and lawyers that began in February 2011.

Source: -See Summary (2012-01-06 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Authorities Sentence Chen Wei to 9 Years for Posting Pro-Democracy Essays

December 23, 2011

The Suining Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan province sentenced democracy activist Chen Wei on December 23, 2011, to nine years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power," in a case reportedly marred by procedural irregularities. The prosecutor's indictment alleged that four essays Chen authored were intended to incite subversion. The essays had been posted on overseas Web sites and had discussed democratic reform and human rights in China.

The Suining Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan province sentenced democracy activist Chen Wei on December 23, 2011, to nine years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power" (Associated Press via Washington Post, 23 December 11; New York Times, 23 December 11). Inciting subversion is a crime under Article 105, Paragraph 2, of the Criminal Law. Chen's sentencing document asserted 11 essays Chen authored were intended to incite subversion (available via Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 12 January 12). The court also sentenced Chen to two years' deprivation of political rights upon his release. Human Rights in China (21 December 11) has provided links to four of the essays as they appear on Boxun and Independent Chinese Pen, overseas Chinese Web sites that post literary essays and articles on current events, including politics and human rights. The titles of the essays are: "The Illness of the System and the Antidote of Constitutional Democracy," "The Growth of the Civil Opposition Is the Key to China's Democratization," "The Traps of Harmony and the Absence of Equality," and "Sentiments from a Hunger Striker on International Human Rights Day."

Public security officials in Suining detained Chen on February 21 and formally arrested him on March 28 (sentencing document and CHRD, updated 8 December 11), following protests in the Middle East and North Africa and the appearance in mid-February of online calls for "Jasmine Revolution" protests in China. Procuratorate officials (prosecutors) in Suining transferred Chen's case back to the public security bureau for supplementary investigation on two occasions (China Free Press via Boxun, 3 October 11), possibly indicating insufficient evidence in the case. By late October, Public Security Bureau officials reportedly finished the second supplementary investigation and sent his case back to the procuratorate for the third time (Radio Free Asia, 31 October 11).

Authorities attempted to stop Chen's wife from hiring lawyer Liang Xiaojun, and then allowed Chen to meet with lawyer Zheng Jianwei on only two occasions and Liang on only one occasion, according to the December 21 HRIC article. In addition, authorities allowed Chen's wife to meet with him only once, according to HRIC. Authorities in Chen's case did not respond to a September 9, 2011, request made by his wife for bail pending trial. After she resubmitted her request for bail on September 20, domestic security protection officials reportedly told her that bail was not possible in a case like Chen's, according to China Free Press.

Additional Commission Resources on Chen Wei and the 2011 Crackdown Against Human Rights Lawyers, Activists

Source: -See Summary (2011-12-23 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Special Report: Tibetan Monastic Self-Immolations Appear To Correlate With Increasing Repression of Freedom of Religion

December 23, 2011

This CECC Special Report demonstrates an apparent correlation between increasing Chinese Communist Party and government repression of freedom of religion in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries, and 12 instances in 2011 of current or former monks and nuns resorting to self-immolation. Reporting from each of the Commission's 10 annual reports (2002-2011) reveals a trend of deterioration in the environment for Tibetan Buddhism, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monastic institutions. The trend worsened significantly after mostly peaceful political protests swept across the Tibetan plateau in March and April 2008. The Party and government responded to those protests by intensifying a long-established anti-Dalai Lama campaign; issuing regulatory measures that intrude upon and micromanage Tibetan Buddhist monastic affairs; implementing aggressive "legal education" programs that pressure monks and nuns to study and accept expanded government control over their religion, monasteries, and nunneries; and convening a high-level Party forum to formally establish a coordinated policy on Tibetan issues, including religion, across all Tibetan autonomous areas. All of the Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations except the most recent attempt took place in Sichuan province, outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Commission Political Prisoner Database (PPD) information indicates a higher level of Tibetan political detention since March 2008 in Sichuan than in any other provincial-level area, including the TAR.

Tibetan Buddhist Monks and Nuns Resort to "Desperate Acts"

Nine current or former Tibetan Buddhist monks, two nuns, and one former monk who had married and become the father of three children, reportedly committed self-immolation during the period March 16 to December 1, 2011. Five of the current or former monks and both nuns reportedly died; five current or former monks reportedly were hospitalized or were in unknown locations. As the protesters burned, they shouted slogans including calls for Tibetan freedom, the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet, and freedom of religion, according to reports. Seven of the self-immolations, including the March 16 occurrence, involved current or former monks affiliated with one religious center—Kirti Monastery, located in Aba (Ngaba) county, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (T&QAP). (For more information on the crackdown at Kirti from March through June, see an August 17, 2011, Commission report.) One other self-immolation, a nun from Dechen Choekorling Nunnery, took place in Aba county. Three self-immolations took place in Ganzi (Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP): a monk from Nyitso Monastery in Daofu (Tawu) county; a nun from Gaden Choeling Nunnery in Daofu; and a monk from Gepheling Monastery (often called Kardze Monastery) in Ganzi county. The most recent attempted self-immolation took place in Changdu (Chamdo) prefecture, TAR.

In prepared testimony submitted on November 3, 2011, to the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC), Kirti Rinpoche, the spiritual head and abbot of Kirti Monastery who fled into exile in 1959, stated that conditions at Kirti had driven the monks "to a state of utter fear and desperation" (testimony available on the TLHRC Web site; bio available on Drepung Loseling Monastery Web site). The Dalai Lama said on November 7 that the self-immolations are "desperate acts by people seeking justice and freedom" (Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 7 November 11). Chinese officials have not acknowledged the role of Chinese government policy and regulatory control of religion in the self-immolations, and instead characterize the incidents as "terrorist acts in disguise" that "took place with the Dalai clique's orchestration, instigation and support" (Xinhua, 3 November 11 (translated in OSC, 5 November 11)).

Information available in the Commission's Political Prisoner Database (PPD) suggests that since March 2008 security officials in Sichuan province detained more Tibetans for political reasons than in any other provincial-level administration that includes Tibetan autonomous area. As of December 9, 2011, of 1,152 cases of political detention of Tibetans since March 2008 recorded in the PPD, more than half (656) took place in Sichuan, compared to 265 in the TAR, 114 in Qinghai province, 114 in Gansu province, and 1 in Yunnan province. Such statistics cannot provide an accurate account because the Chinese government withholds information on political detention, but the available data suggests that Party and government repression of Tibetans' freedoms of religion, speech, and association may be greater in the Tibetan autonomous areas of Sichuan than in Tibetan autonomous areas located in other provincial-level administrations. (See the Commission's 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 Annual Reports for more information on Tibetan political imprisonment since March 2008.)

The chronological list below includes a 2009 precedent for the 2011 self-immolations—Tashi (or Tabe, Tapey), a Kirti monk who attempted self-immolation to protest official interference in a monastic festival. The Commission has not observed any reports of Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations during the period from September 1987, when the current period of Tibetan political activism began, to the February 2009 self-immolation.
    2009: One self-immolation; non-fatal.

      February 27. Tashi (or Tabe, Tapey), age 24; Kirti Monastery; Aba county, Aba T&QAP; "detained" in a military hospital in Aba prefecture. See, e.g., Phayul, 17 December 11; International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), 27 February 09; Free Tibet (FT), 27 February 09; Xinhua, 5 March 09, reprinted in China Daily.

    2011: Twelve self-immolations; seven reported fatal.


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Government Expands Use of Legal Measures To Repress Tibetan Buddhist Affairs

China's Constitution (Article 36) protects "freedom of religious belief"—not freedom of religion—and provides protection only for "normal religious activities," a category that the Party and government uses policy, educational, and legal measures to define and manage. A series of central- and prefectural-level regulatory measures on Tibetan Buddhist affairs began taking effect in 2007, were more numerous in 2009 and 2010, and continued into 2011 (see information below). As of December 1, 2011, regulations on Tibetan Buddhist affairs were effective in 8 of the 10 TAPs; the Commission had not observed information on whether regulations reported for approval in March 2010 had become effective in Yushu (Yushul) TAP, Qinghai province; or whether Gannan (Kanlho) TAP, Gansu province was preparing Tibetan Buddhist affairs regulations. Provincial-level regulations on religion took effect in Gansu on December 1, 2011 (Gansu Province Religious Affairs Regulations, available in Chinese on the Gansu Daily Web site). Prefectural-level regulations on Tibetan Buddhist affairs in Gannan could follow the provincial regulations.

Below are brief excerpts from the Commission's annual reports from 2002 to 2011. The Commission's reporting reveals a trend of deterioration in the environment for Tibetan Buddhism, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monastic institutions. The sentences are drawn directly from the annual reports but may be reordered for clarity and do not necessarily follow one another directly in the original text. Where relevant below, regulatory measures that took effect during that reporting year are also noted.

    2002 Annual Report, 38-40. Conflict between Tibetan aspirations and Chinese policy is found within cultural, religious, and educational spheres. Despite unrelenting effort by the Chinese government to discourage or prevent expressions of loyalty and devotion to the Dalai Lama, he remains the most respected and influential Tibetan anywhere. Zhu Xiaoming, a senior Party official with oversight on Tibetan policy, told visiting Commission staff, "The Dalai Lama uses religion as a pretext for harming the country. He carries people away [from the Motherland] under the signboard of religion." [Zhu] explained to Commission staff that ["normal religious practice] must be based on seamlessness between religion and patriotism. "Loving the country is identical to loving religion," he said.

    2003 Annual Report, 30-31. Chinese authorities argue that the Dalai Lama is a hostile political figure, not a legitimate religious leader, and that programs counteracting veneration of him do not violate religious freedom. Police confiscate printed, audio, and video material featuring the Dalai Lama's religious teachings and speeches, and those possessing such material sometimes face abusive treatment, including beating and detention. Political education sessions require that monks and nuns denounce the Dalai Lama and Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama in 1995 as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibet's second-ranking spiritual leader.

    2004 Annual Report, 38-39. According to a 2002 propaganda manual for "educating" Tibetan Buddhist monks: "Citizens' freedom of religion [sic] belief should not be described as 'religious freedom' in which unprescribed religious activity is pursued according to individual whims. It would be improper for the practice of freedom of belief to oppose state laws and policies, and religious activity must be pursued within the confines permitted by the national constitution, law, and policy. Monks and nuns learn that their religion "must be relentlessly guided in its accommodation with Socialist society." Reports also assert that monks and nuns face restrictions on religious study and a shortage of qualified teachers.

    2005 Annual Report, 47. China's new [Regulations on Religious Affairs] may lead to more administrative intrusion into Tibetan Buddhist affairs by underscoring the state's right to supervise the effects of religion on society. If the RRA leads to further restrictions on teaching and assembly in Tibetan monasteries, on association between the Tibetan clergy and laity, and on small prayer gatherings of the Tibetan laity, the result will further erode the traditionally close ties between the Tibetan monastic and secular communities. A group of [Democratic Management Committee (DMC)] leaders from [TAR] monasteries completed a training course on the new religious affairs regulations in May 2005. At the closing ceremony, each one pledged individually, "When we go back, we will use the knowledge we have gained in our practical work, further improve the democratic management of our local temples, lead the masses of monks and nuns to love the nation and love the religion, and make more contributions to building a harmonious Tibet."

    • State Administration for Religious Affairs, Regulations on Religious Affairs [Zongjiao shiwu tiaoli], effective 1 March 05. (Translated from Chinese.)

    2006 Annual Report, 83-84. In May 2006, Zhang Qingli, Secretary of the [TAR] Party Committee, called on senior government and Party officials to widen the patriotic education campaign to include a broader population, and to intensify the "rectification" and restructuring of each monastery and nunnery's [DMC], . . . . Zhang told the officials that the Party is engaged in a "fight to the death struggle" against the Dalai Lama and his supporters, and that the Dalai Lama is "the biggest obstacle hindering Tibetan Buddhism from establishing normal order." Comprehensive implementation of the Regulation on Religious Affairs (RRA) will lead to the "normalization of religious order" and the "standardization of religious activity," Zhang said. In December 2005, the government and Party stepped up a campaign to challenge the Dalai Lama's role as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists by increasing the prominence of Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy the State Council installed in 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama.

    2007 Annual Report, 29, 183, 193. Tibetan Buddhism in the [TAR] is coming under increased pressure as recent legal measures expand and deepen government control over Buddhist monasteries, nunneries, monks, nuns, and reincarnated lamas. The TAR 2006 Measures state a general formula for the relationship between the state and religion: "All levels of the people's government shall actively guide religious organizations, venues for religious activities, and religious personnel in a love of the country and of religion, in protecting the country and benefiting the people, in uniting and moving forward, and in guiding the mutual adaptation of religion and socialism." The Chinese government issued legal measures that, if fully implemented, will establish government control over the process of identifying and educating reincarnated Tibetan Buddhist teachers throughout China.

    • Tibet Autonomous Region People's Government, Tibet Autonomous Region Implementing Measures for the "Regulations on Religious Affairs" (Trial Measures) [Xizang zizhiqu shishi "zongjiao shiwu tiaoli" banfa (shixing)], effective 1 January 07. (Translated from Chinese.)

    • State Administration for Religious Affairs, Measures for Putting Professional Religious Personnel on Record [Zongjiao jiaozhi renyuan bei'an banfa], effective 1 March 07. (Available in Chinese on the State Administration for Religious Affairs Web site.)

    • State Administration for Religious Affairs, Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism [Zangchuan fojiao huofo zhuanshi guanli banfa], effective 1 September 07. (Translated from Chinese.)

    2008 Annual Report, 182, 185, 189-190. State repression of Tibetan Buddhism has reached its highest level since the Commission began to report on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in 2002. Chinese government and Party policy toward Tibetan Buddhists' practice of their religion played a central role in stoking frustration that resulted in the cascade of Tibetan protests that began on March 10, 2008. The Party hardened policy toward the Dalai Lama in the wake of the Tibetan protests, increasing attacks on the Dalai Lama's legitimacy as a religious leader, and asserting that he is a criminal bent on splitting China. Armed security forces maintained heightened security at some monasteries and nunneries after the protests as authorities conducted aggressive campaigns of patriotic education ("love the country, love religion"). The government of [Ganzi (Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP)] issued . . . unprecedented measures that seek to punish or eliminate from the prefecture's Tibetan Buddhist institution those monks, nuns, religious teachers, and monastic officials whom public security officials accuse of involvement in political protests in the prefecture.

    • Ganzi TAP People's Government, Measures for Dealing Strictly With Rebellious Monasteries and Individual Monks and Nuns, issued and effective 28 June 08. (Translated from Tibetan in ICT, 30 July 08.)

    2009 Annual Report, 277-278, 281. Chinese Government and Communist Party interference with the norms of Tibetan Buddhism and unremitting antagonism toward the Dalai Lama, key factors underlying the March 2008 eruption of Tibetan protest, continued to deepen Tibetan resentment and fuel additional Tibetan protests . . . . Seeking to end the Dalai Lama's stature among Tibetans as a paramount religious leader is central to the government campaign to promote what it refers to as "stability" and "harmony" in the Tibetan areas of China. Following the issuance of regulations on Tibetan Buddhism in 2006 and 2007, Party and government officials have increased the emphasis on the use of legal measures and "legal education" to pressure Tibetan Buddhists into compliance with a state-defined "new order" for the religion.

    • Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture People's Government, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture Temporary Measures on Management of Tibetan Buddhist Affairs [Aba zangzu qiangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu guanli zanxing banfa], issued and effective 24 July 09. (Available in Chinese on the Findlaw.cn Web site.)

    • Hainan TAP People's Congress, Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Hainan zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], issued and effective 31 July 09. (Available in Chinese on the Qinghai People's Congress Standing Committee Web site.)

    • Diqing TAP People's Congress, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Regulation on Management of Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries [Diqing zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao siyuan guanli tiaoli], issued and effective 1 September 09. (Available in Chinese on the Findlaw.cn Web site.)

    • Huangnan TAP People's Congress, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Huangnan zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], issued and effective 24 September 09. (Available in Chinese on the Qinghai Province People's Congress Standing Committee Web site.)

    2010 Annual Report, 214, 218. [General Secretary of the Communist Party and President of China] Hu Jintao used the powerful [Fifth Tibet Work Forum] to emphasize the Communist Party's role in controlling Tibetan Buddhism and the important role of law as a tool to enforce what the Party deems to be the "normal order" for the religion. Legal measures requiring a nationwide re-registration of "professional religious personnel," underway in the TAR during 2010, could result in substantial losses to the Tibetan monastic community if authorities apply re-registration in a manner intended to weed out monks and nuns whom authorities suspect of holding religious views that the government does not deem to be "legal." Such views include religious devotion toward the Dalai Lama and support of the Dalai Lama's recognition in 1995 of Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama.

    • Buddhist Association of China, Measures for Confirming the Credentials of Tibetan Buddhist Professional Religious Personnel [Zangchuan fojiao jiaozhi renyuan zige rending banfa], effective 10 January 10. (Available in Chinese on the State Administration for Religious Affairs Web site.)

    • Yushu TAP People's Congress, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Yushu zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], reported to the Qinghai Province People's Congress for approval as 3 March 10. (Report available in Chinese on Qinghai Province People's Congress Standing Committee Web site.)

    • Haibei TAP People's Congress, Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Haibei zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], issued and effective 22 March 10. (Available in Chinese on the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council Web site.)

    • Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture People's Congress, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture Religious Affairs Regulations [Aba zangzu qiangzu zizhizhou zongjiao shiwu tiaoli], effective 1 May 10. Available in Chinese on the Sichuan Province People's Congress Standing Committee Web site.)

    • Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture People's Congress, Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Haixi mengguzu zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], issued and effective 12 August 10. (Available in Chinese on the Qinghai Province People's Congress Standing Committee Web site.)

    • Guoluo TAP People's Congress, Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Guoluo zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], issued and effective 30 September 10.(Available in Chinese on the China Tibet News Web site.)

    • State Administration for Religious Affairs, Management Measures for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries [Zangchuan fojiao simiao guanli banfa], effective 1 November 10. (Available in Chinese on the Central People's Government Web site.)

    2011 Annual Report, 48, 208. In April 2011, Zhu Weiqun, Executive Deputy Head of the Party's United Front Work Department (and principal interlocutor for the Dalai Lama's envoys) summed up Party intentions toward the Tibetan Buddhist religion, monasteries, and nunneries during a working group "investigation" he led in the [TAR]. A Party-run newspaper described [Zhu's remarks as urging the establishment of] "a sound and permanent mechanism for the management of monasteries" [and ensuring that] "all activities of monasteries will have rules to follow." As of August 2011, the central government and 9 of 10 Tibetan autonomous prefectural governments issued or drafted regulatory measures that increase substantially state infringement of freedom of religion in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.

    • Ganzi TAP People's Congress, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations [Ganzi zangzu zizhizhou zangchuan fojiao shiwu tiaoli], effective 1 December 11. Available in Chinese on the Ganzi Daily Web site.)
For additional information on regulatory measures and Tibetan Buddhist affairs, see Commission reports on 14 November 11, 20 May 11, 10 March 11, 9 March 10, and 22 August 07. See sections on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in the Commission's 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 Annual Reports.


Source: -See Summary (2011-12-23 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22 more ...
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Authorities Loosen Some Restrictions on Chen Guangcheng and Family, Continue To Hold Them Under Tight Control

December 22, 2011

In recent weeks, local authorities in Linyi county, Shandong province, reportedly have loosened some measures used to control rights defender Chen Guangcheng, whom they have held with his wife, daughter, and mother in extralegal detention in their home since September 2010. While in detention, the family has been subjected to beatings, round-the-clock surveillance, and other forms of harassment. Despite reported relaxation of certain controls on Chen and his family, authorities continue to hold them under strict control and continue to block access to individuals who attempt to visit Chen's village.

Reported Changes in Official Restrictions on Chen and Family

Sources close to the family of self-trained legal advocate Chen Guangcheng told Reuters (5 December 11) that Chinese authorities in Linyi county, Shandong province, have loosened some restrictions on Chen and his family. Local authorities reportedly now allow Chen's 77-year-old mother to leave the village for supplies. They also reportedly have permitted Chen to receive medicine for his intestinal illness, and are allowing Chen's six-year-old daughter to attend school, albeit under "constant guard." According to one activist, whom Reuters quoted under the condition of anonymity, "[Chen's] health has improved." However, according to He Peirong, a Nanjing-based rights advocate and friend of Chen's family, "[Authorities] haven't allowed [Chen] to go to the hospital for a full check-up." Chen reportedly remains under strict surveillance and authorities continue to block access to his village, Dongshigu, as evidenced in CNN's video coverage of actor Christian Bale's thwarted attempt to visit Chen on December 16. According to another source close to Chen’s family, cited in the Reuters report, "The government officials said they will keep [Chen] under guard for the rest of his life, until he dies."

Wave of Increased Attention and Advocacy Efforts

In 2011, Chen Guangcheng's case has stirred a wave of human rights advocacy among Chinese citizens, especially Internet users, and attracted international attention to human rights and rule of law developments in China.
  • Chinese citizen attempts to visit Chen Guangcheng. An increasing number of Chinese citizens have attempted—at times in large groups—to visit Chen's home in 2011 only to encounter beatings and detentions. These include:

    • Internet activist He Peirong (see January 12 post on Free Chen Guangcheng blog);

    • Journalist and activist Li Jianjun and two other individuals (see October 26 Chinese Human Rights Defenders report);

    • Rights advocate Liu Shasha and several companions (see September 19 Radio Free Asia (RFA) report; October 5 RFA report; and October 28 Agence France-Presse report);

    • Rights defender Mao Hengfeng and a group of 36 other rights defenders and "netizens" (see October 31 Human Rights in China report); and

    • Author Murong Xuecun, newspaper columnist Wang Xiaoshan, digital web director Zhang Enchao, Hu Zhongqiang, and a woman identified as "Nuola" (see Murong Xuecun's account published in the Guardian on November 11).

  • Foreign journalist attempts to visit Chen Guangcheng. Teams from media outlets including the New York Times, CNN, Le Monde, Radio France Internationale, and Le Nouvel Observateur attempted to visit Chen’s village in early 2011 and were roughed up, threatened with bricks, or had equipment seized or destroyed. (See March 11 CECC Analysis.)

  • U.S. government efforts to raise Chen’s case. Several U.S. government officials issued statements in late 2011 regarding Chen’s detention, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (November 10, via AFP) and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke (December 10). (See also a November 6 Global Post report, discussing Gary Locke’s September letter to the Chinese government regarding Chen Guangcheng.) The Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a hearing on November 1 (statement of Representative Chris Smith, Chairman; statement of Representative Tim Walz, Ranking Member), and Chairman Smith and Senator Sherrod Brown, Cochairman, issued a joint statement on November 1.

  • Protest in Hong Kong. Hong Kong rights advocates protested before the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government on November 11, urging the Chinese government to release Chen ahead of his 40th birthday on November 12. (See November 11 RFA report.)

  • Ongoing advocacy campaigns. Chinese citizens and civil society organizations as well as international organizations have set up advocacy campaigns on the Internet to raise awareness of and express solidarity for Chen. These campaigns include Dark Glasses: Portrait, Free Chen Guangcheng Civic Action (as discussed in a November 11 CHRD report, pp. 8-10); a “Free Chen” petition organized by Shanghai rights advocate Feng Zhenghu and signed by more than 370 people in Shanghai (see October 20 RFA report); and the Chen Guangcheng Sunglasses Freedom Campaign (see the Women’s Rights Without Frontiers Web site).
Background: Chen Guangcheng

In 1996, Chen Guangcheng began defending the rights of disabled peasants and providing legal advice as a self-trained legal advocate focusing on antidiscrimination. Over the next decade, his legal advocacy was recognized in China and internationally. In 2005, Chen's rights defense work drew international news media attention to population planning abuses in Linyi city, Shandong province. Local authorities placed Chen under house arrest in September 2005 and formally arrested him in June 2006. The Yinan County People's Court first tried and sentenced Chen in August 2006 to four years and three months in prison for "intentional destruction of property" and "organizing a group of people to disturb traffic order." His defense lawyers were taken into custody on the eve of his trial. The Yinan court retried the case in November 2006 and upheld the first judgment. Chen's retrial prompted repeated criticism for its criminal procedure violations. In June 2007, Chen reportedly informed his wife and brother that he had been beaten by fellow inmates, according to a June 21 Chinese Human Rights Defenders report. In August 2007, Yuan Weijing attempted to travel to the Philippines to accept the Ramon Magsaysay award on behalf of Chen, but Chinese authorities intercepted her before leaving the country and forcibly returned her to her village, according to an August 25, 2007, Washington Post report. During the period of Chen's imprisonment, authorities also repeatedly subjected Yuan and their two children to harassment, home confinement, surveillance, and other abuses, according to reports from journalist and blogger Wang Keqin (14 March 09), Amnesty International (20 April 09), and Radio Free Asia (22 April 09), as well as the testimony of Jerome A. Cohen, Professor of Law and Co-Director , US-Asia Law Institute, New York University, at an August 3, 2010, Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing.

The Commission’s most recent analysis on Chen reported on the violent beatings Chen and his wife faced after they recorded and leaked video footage detailing the harsh conditions of their extralegal detention. Previous coverage of Chen Guangcheng's case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy. For additional information on Chen and China's population planning policy, see Section II—Population Planning in the CECC 2011 Annual Report. For more information on Chinese official detention, harassment, and abuse of lawyers, see Section II—Criminal Justice and Section III—Access to Justice in the CECC 2011 Annual Report. For more information on freedom of the press in China, see Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-12-21 / English) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Officials Discourage and Prevent "Independent Candidates" From Getting on Official Ballots in Local People's Congress Elections

December 23, 2011

During the latest round of local people's congress elections taking place in staggered fashion across China from May 2011 to December 2012, central and local officials are discouraging and preventing potential "independent candidates," i.e., candidates nominated by citizens rather than by the Party or by state-affiliated organizations, from getting on official ballots. Citizens are allowed to vote for people's congress delegates only at the lowest levels. Some developments during candidate nomination processes in this latest round do not seem to reflect the spirit of the national election law, highlight contradictions in the national election law, and illustrate continuing challenges to free and fair elections in China. Some local officials reportedly have arrested, detained, and monitored potential "independent candidates," as well as pressured their families, employers, and nominators, and obstructed nomination processes.

Background on Candidate Nomination Processes
The PRC Election Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses (Election Law) provides for direct citizen elections of people's congresses at the lowest levels, such as in urban districts, rural counties, townships, towns, and small cities (that are not further subdivided) (Article 2). The most recent round of these elections began in May 2011 and will end in December 2012 (Radio Free Asia [RFA], 8 November 11). Any citizen over the age of 18, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, occupation, or religious beliefs, in theory may vote or be elected, unless stripped of political rights (Article 3). However, to become a formal candidate, one must be both nominated and appear on a final ballot that has been vetted by the local election committee, which is led by the local people's congress (Articles 8, 10, 29, and 31). A potential candidate may be nominated by either a political party, delegates from the local people's congress, a "people's organization," such as the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, or by 10 or more ordinary citizens, i.e., "voter nominated" candidates (Article 29). "Voter nominated" candidates are often unofficially referred to as "independent candidates." In some cases, where the number of nominees per open positions exceeds a proscribed ratio, the local election committee should initiate group discussions by "voter groups" and determine the list of candidates based on the majority opinion. If a consensus cannot be reached, the committee will hold a primary election (Article 31).

According to U.S.-based scholar Melanie Manion in her testimony at a May 2009 CECC roundtable on democratic reforms in China, in past election cycles, there were often large numbers of "independent candidates" in the early stages of election activities. By the time election day arrived, however, most such candidates reportedly were winnowed out. There were few "independent candidates" in the most recent round of elections in Beijing, in which 21,760 formal candidates competed to fill 14,290 vacancies, and official figures reportedly indicated only 50-some "independent candidates" among the formal candidates (Mingbao via Sina.com, 9 November 11 and RFA, 8 November 11). An international non-governmental organization tracked 60 "independent candidates" in the Beijing elections but none of these citizens were among the formal candidates (Chinese Human Rights Defenders [CHRD], 6 November 11, via Blogspot).

Central and Local Authorities Discourage or Prevent "Independent Candidates"
Some national-level Communist Party-affiliated newspapers warned of the dangers of including "independent candidates" in elections, including two editorials in the Global Times, after blogger and writer Li Chengping declared his candidacy in May 2011 and gained more than 2.9 million followers on the Internet (Global Times, 30 May 11). The May 30 Chinese and English Global Times editorials noted that "independent candidates" could play a positive role, but also asserted that it was not suitable to allow candidates who held opinions different from those of the "current political system" to run; and that such candidates would bring "even more turbulence, threatening the cohesion of the nation." In this round of elections, local officials have employed various tactics at each stage of the pre-election process to block "independent candidates," as described below.

(1) Arrests, Detentions, and Monitoring of Potential Candidates
Local officials in Henan and Guizhou provinces and Beijing municipality prevented potential "independent candidates" from getting nominated or from assuming office in a variety of ways, including arresting or detaining them or holding them under "soft detention." Below are a few examples of such actions.
  • Officials in Shangcheng county, Henan province arrested popular farmer leader Hong Maoxuan on August 4, 2011, on the suspicion of "obstructing official business," for an incident that occurred 10 years prior, reportedly to prevent him from running in the local election (CHRD, 6 September 11 and 1 September 11, via Blogspot). In that incident, he and other villagers protested against official corruption. At the time, officials did not detain him.
  • Authorities in Beijing have taken various potential candidates on "vacation" to tourist resorts outside of the city and prevented some from communicating with others (RFA, 21 October 11). Guizhou officials took similar actions, including detaining Chen Xi from October 19 to October 25, during which time the deadline for accepting candidate nominations passed (CHRD, 9 November 11, 25 October 11, and 6 November 11 via Blogspot, and 2 November 11). Authorities reportedly arrested Chen Xi on November 29, on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power." Officials reportedly cited Chen’s writings promoting human rights and democracy as reasons for the charge (CHRD, 21 December 11).
(2) Authorities Discriminate and Manipulate Candidate Lists and Nomination Processes
Authorities in several provinces across China utilized various methods to interfere in or manipulate nomination processes and official candidate lists, including engaging in discriminatory actions, refusing to provide, accept, or validate nomination forms, and requiring nominees to visit election offices in person to make their nomination, as detailed below.
  • A local election committee in Guangzhou municipality, Guangdong province, disallowed Liang Shuxin, a Party member and Internet forum executive at Tianya, from becoming a candidate because the committee announced they wanted a female worker who was not a Party member as a candidate. The committee later removed the restriction, but Liang Shuxin was not included on the ballot (New York Times, 31 October 11). This example illustrates that language regarding congresses being "broadly representative" in Article 6 of the Election Law may be flexible enough to allow officials to disallow a nomination based on an individual's ethnicity, gender, or occupation. This language seems to contradict language in Article 3 stating anyone with political rights over the age of 18 may run in an election.
  • In the cases of two Beijing professors, one received thousands of nominations and another received hundreds, but they were unable to become official candidates because their employers either refused to accept their nomination forms or determined their nominators were invalid (CHRD, 31 October 11, via Blogspot).
  • Officials in Acheng District, Harbin city, Heilongjiang province, told one potential “independent candidate” that no more than 10 nominators must come in person to the election office at a specified time with their household registration, national identity cards, and employer identification cards to make their nominations, according to the October 31 CHRD article.
(3) Authorities Pressure Potential Candidates, Their Families, Employers, and Nominators
Officials in Sichuan province, Shanghai, and Beijing pressured "independent candidates," as well as their families, employers, and nominators to prevent the potential candidate from getting onto the formal ballot.
  • Officials in Qingyang district, Chengdu city, Sichuan province, threatened and started following the mother of Li Shuangde when he posted an article on the Internet explaining why he wanted to run for the local people's congress (CHRD, 19 November 11, via Blogspot). In addition, the son of Sichuan-based author Li Chengpeng lost a company’s financial support for his tennis playing after Li declared his intent to run in local people's congress elections in Wuhou district, Chengdu, according to the October 31 CHRD article.
  • After Shanghai writer and business executive Xia Shang declared his candidacy for Shanghai Jing'an District National People's Congress representative, he was not only forced to participate in official "consultations," but his company was ordered to undergo a special inspection. Due to governmental pressure, Xia chose to drop out of the elections, according to the October 31 CHRD article.
  • In late October 2011, those responsible for elections at the Beijing Foreign Language University obstructed the official nomination of professor Qiao Mu by various means: telling some student nominators to switch their nominations, threatening some students with "thought work" if Qiao received over 10 nominations, and threatening to prevent students from joining the Communist Party if Qiao were to become an official candidate, according to the October 31 CHRD article.
(4) Authorities Censor News of "Independent Candidates" and Interfere in Election Education Activities
Reports indicate that officials censored news of "independent candidates" and interfered with their election education activities.
  • Beijing officials reportedly gave an order to propaganda authorities on September 26, 2011, to censor news of independent candidates (New York Times, 31 October 11).
  • Officials reportedly posted election signs and lists of candidates in concealed locations, such as on the back of a boiler or in a backstreet alley. They also reportedly tore down election signs (CHRD, 14 December 11), deleted election-related microblog and other online postings, and suspended some potential candidates' microblog accounts (CHRD, 31 October 11, 5 November 11, via Blogspot; RFA, 7 November 11; and Voice Of America, 8 November 11).
  • Authorities pressured organizers to cancel election education meetings or have attempted to prevent the public from attending them (CHRD, 2 October 11, via Blogspot).
For more information on local people's congress elections and "independent candidates," see Section III—Institutions of Democratic Governance in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-12-19 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Local Officials in Xinjiang Continue Curbs Over Religious Practice

December 16, 2011

Controls over religion in the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang remain among the harshest in China, and local governments have reported continuing steps to tighten curbs over religious practice. In recent months, several local governments have reported carrying out measures to prevent women from veiling or wearing other apparel deemed to carry religious connotations and to prevent men from wearing large beards, practices authorities have associated with "backwardness," "extremism," and "illegal religious activities." Some local governments also reported increasing controls over women religious specialists known as büwi. Regionwide, authorities have described continuing steps to target "illegal" religious publications in censorship campaigns.

Several local governments in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have reported carrying out steps to tighten controls over religion, singling out aspects of Islam in a number of cases. The recent measures continue similar efforts in recent years, as documented by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (1, 2, 3, 4). The ongoing campaigns indicate that religious practice remains a main target of government control in the region, at the same time that some local residents continue to find space to practice their religion or express their beliefs apart from state-dictated confines.

Continuing bans against veiling and beards. As detailed below, several local governments, as well as the regional state-controlled women's federation, have reported taking steps against religious dress and beards both in campaigns specifically targeting them or as part of broader efforts to curb "illegal religious activities." The recent measures, as well as previous campaigns documented by the Commission (1, 2, 3), often focus on "persuading" or ordering people to stop wearing such apparel or beards. In one past campaign documented by the Commission, however, authorities threatened "severe punishment in accordance with law," and two cases in the CECC's Political Prisoner Database (Nurtay Memet, Ghojaexmet Niyaz) have reported connections to beard-wearing. Based on CECC monitoring of reports on similar campaigns in recent years, the number of recent local efforts appears to represent an increase from earlier in the year. Reports from Fall 2011 include:
  • Authorities in the town of Tekes, Tekes County, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, carried out a 7-day campaign of lectures on "illegal" and permitted religious activities at venues including weddings within the town, according to a September 15 report on the Tekes Party Building Web site. Authorities reported promoting "healthy" religious outlooks and that townspeople responded to the call to curb "underground" scripture study, private religious students, "illegal" religious publications, women veiling their faces, and men wearing "abnormal" large beards.
  • In Hejing County, Bayangol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, an official reported at a meeting of 550 households receiving a minimum level of guaranteed social welfare support (dibao jiating) that women wearing veils, young men with large beards, and guardians of minors who illegally enter mosques would not enjoy this social welfare support, according to a September 16 report from the Hejing government Web site. The official added that if such people were found to be receiving benefits, this support would be immediately cut off.
  • A report from the Ili Prefectural Agricultural Machinery Bureau described outstanding "problems" in a local community and residential district, including people with a "pronounced religious consciousness" and those who have been discovered to wear "Arab dress and adornment," according to a September 24 report from the bureau's Web site. The report called for dealing with such people through door-to-door lectures by cadres, people's police, and work groups on promoting a lifestyle of "positive healthy civilization." The report also called for scoping out beard wearers and people previously punished for participating in illegal religious activities and subjecting them—along with other groups—to "inspection and control." (See a December 15 Reuters report for information on a similar campaign elsewhere in Ili.)
  • In the town of Xinyuan (Künes) in Xinyuan county, Ili, authorities registered the names of women wearing veils or "abnormal" clothes and men with large beards, as part of campaigns in the town and county against "illegal religious activities," according to an October 20 report on the Xinyuan county government Web site. The report noted the numbers of people who refused to cooperate, as well as those who signed contracts with authorities agreeing to remove veils, shave, or stop wearing "abnormal" clothing.
  • The weather bureau in Yutian (Keriye) county, Hoten district, reported carrying out a campaign, in accordance with countywide measures to address face veiling, calling on bureau staff and their friends and family not to wear clothing with a "pronounced religious hue" and to "resolutely stop face veiling," according to an October 27 report on the XUAR Weather Bureau Web site.
  • See also a report from the XUAR Women's Federation (via Kunlun Net, September 3), noting continuing implementation of a regionwide campaign to "Let Beautiful Hair Flutter, Let Beautiful Faces Be Revealed" and a September 23 report on the Shule (Kashgar Yéngisheher) county, Kashgar district, government Web site, on local implementation of this campaign.
Continuing Controls Over Women Religious Specialists. Local governments also continued steps to bring women religious specialists known as büwi (Mandarin: buwei) under tighter government regulation, following an official proposal in 2008 to place these religious figures—who perform certain religious rites and provide religious instruction—under stricter state control.
  • In October, authorities in Kashgar municipality held a training class for büwi within one township, calling on them to contribute to state-led campaigns and political goals, and reported "going a step further in strengthening management" of the women, according to an October 24 report on the Kashgar Municipal Government Web site.
  • A September 8 report from the Yengisar County Government Web site, in Kashgar district, described strengthening "management" (guanli) of büwi, holding regular interviews with them, and increasing communication among measures to "bring into play" the role of büwi and prevent women from participating in "illegal religious activities."
Religious Publications Targeted
  • The XUAR Transportation Department reported in a November 14 posting on its Web site that at the end of October, transportation officials throughout the region had investigated and prosecuted 20 cases of "illegal publications," including cases involving 4,386 copies of "illegal religious publications." According to the report, transportation authorities in the region will increase their oversight of the transport of publications as part of the region's work to "Sweep Away Pornography and Strike Down Illegal Publications."
  • The Organization Department of the Urumqi Municipal Party Committee described one Urumqi neighborhood's work to "capture the ideological and moral battlefield" of minors in the community by continuing to ban "illegal religious activities" and by investigating and stopping the spread of publications that propagate such activities, along with ethnic separatism and other topics deemed forbidden, according to a November 7 report from the Committee, via Kunlun Net.
For more information on conditions in the XUAR and regulation of religion in the region, see Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2011-11-17 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Jiangsu Authorities Order Unregistered Pastor To Serve Two Years of Reeducation Through Labor

November 21, 2011

In late July 2011, authorities in Suqian city, Jiangsu province, ordered pastor Shi Enhao to serve two years in reeducation through labor (RTL) in connection to his activities as an unregistered pastor, including setting up churches and holding gatherings that authorities deemed illegal. Public security authorities in Jiangsu have harassed or detained Shi several times since March 2011. Shi is a leader in a network of unregistered Protestant congregations whose members associate across multiple provinces, and the RTL order came during a time when official sensitivities were heightened toward members of unregistered Protestant congregations.

In late July 2011, authorities in Suqian city, Jiangsu province, ordered unregistered pastor Shi Enhao to serve two years of reeducation through labor (RTL), a form of administrative punishment without trial, according to international media reports dated July 25, 2011, (ChinaAid Association (CAA)) and July 26, 2011, (Associated Press (AP), via Yahoo!; AsiaNews; Radio Free Asia (RFA)). Fellow unregistered pastor Zhang Mingxuan reportedly told RFA that the charges against Shi included "[holding] illegal gatherings" and "[setting up] illegal churches." Such charges appear to violate Articles 18 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 18 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provide for freedom of religion, the freedom to manifest one's belief through, among other things, practice and worship, and freedom of peaceful association. China has signed the ICCPR and has stated that it is preparing to ratify it (National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), sec. V(1), via Xinhua). According to the RFA article, Shi's lawyer Zhang Kai said that Suqian public security officials refused to let Zhang visit Shi in custody because the case involved "secrets." Under China's legal framework for state secrets, officials have wide latitude to declare almost any matter of public concern a state secret. Zhang reportedly also said that authorities seized approximately 100,000 yuan (US$15,500) from Shi's church.

Suqian Officials Harass Shi Enhao Several Times Since March

Public security officials in Jiangsu have harassed and detained Shi several times since March 2011 in apparent connection to his activities as an unregistered pastor. According to CAA (7 March 11) and RFA (10 March 11), on March 4, 2011, officials from Suqian disrupted a house church meeting in Nanyang city, Henan province, and detained Shi, who had been preaching at the gathering. Officials held Shi in a hotel and then returned him to his home in Suqian on March 6. According to RFA (6 March 11), however, authorities reportedly instructed him not to travel anywhere during the meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, held later that month. Shi reportedly told RFA that officials hired several unidentified people to prevent him from leaving his home, and some of those people beat him and took money and personal items from him. Sources do not indicate when officials released Shi from home confinement, but according to CAA (15 June 11, 15 June 11), beginning on May 31, 2011, public security officials in Suqian held him in administrative detention for 12 days. Public security officials released him on June 12 but took him into custody again the same day, eventually issuing a criminal detention notice dated June 21. The detention notice, issued by the Sucheng District Public Security Bureau, Suqian (via a July 5, 2011, CAA article), stated that officials suspected Shi of "using superstition to undermine the implementation of the law," which appears to be a reference to Article 300 of China's Criminal Law. In some cases, authorities have detained other unregistered Protestants on suspicion of "cult"-related activity—language that also can be found in Article 300—and authorities often use "cult"-related charges to detain or sentence Falun Gong practitioners (for more information on these issues and related cases, see this October 27, 2010, CECC analysis).

Harassment and Detention Occurs During Time of Sensitivity to Unregistered Protestants

Shi's harassment, detentions, and RTL punishment appear to have occurred during a period of heightened official sensitivity toward unregistered Protestant communities in various locations throughout China (for more information on government actions against these communities, see this July 1, 2011, CECC analysis). Official reports from Suqian indicate that Suqian authorities had begun targeting unregistered Protestant communities several months before Shi's March detention. A December 18, 2010, report from the Suqian Municipal People's Government describes efforts by authorities in Suqian to "focus on improving effective control of 'house church' activities, as well as vigorously reducing the space and frequency of their activities." Another December 18, 2010, report from the Suqian Municipal People's Government describes efforts to work with the 6-10 Office—an extralegal Party organization that implements the ban on Falun Gong and in some cases targets other unregistered religious communities—and the domestic security protection unit of the public security bureau to ban worship gathering sites established outside of government oversight.

Shi reportedly is a vice president of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), which the Ministry of Civil Affairs banned on November 28, 2008, for "engaging in activities as a social organization on its own initiative, without registering" (see a notice on the China Social Organizations Web site, a Web site owned and operated by the State Administration for the Management of Social Organizations). Authorities appear to have targeted other individuals who had contact with the CHCA in the past year. For example, according to CAA (17 April 11), in April 2011, public security officials in Zaozhuang city, Shandong province, took into custody seven members of a house church, including several leaders, who had had contact with Shi Enhao and Zhang Mingxuan, vice president and president of the CHCA. According to the same report, authorities in Linyi city, Shandong, also reportedly detained two unregistered Protestants who had hosted Zhang Mingxuan during a visit.

For more information about conditions for Protestants in China, see Section II—Freedom of Religion in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-10-25 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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2011 Crackdown Update: Ding Mao, Chen Wei, and Ran Yunfei

November 15, 2011

Prosecutors twice transferred the cases of democracy advocates Ding Mao and Chen Wei back to public security officials for supplementary investigation, both first detained in the widespread February 2011 crackdown in China and formally arrested shortly thereafter. In both cases, PSB officials have completed their supplementary investigations and requested indictments from prosecutors for the third and final time. Authorities have not responded to or have not granted family requests to release Ding and Chen on bail. Authorities also denied Ding and Chen access to their lawyers, in Ding's case for the first six months of his detention, and in Chen's case for nearly seven months. In another case involving a citizen detained in the crackdown, Chengdu authorities have released Ran Yunfei on bail pending trial and placed him under "residential surveillance."

Ding Mao and Chen Wei Cases Twice Transferred to Public Security Officials for Supplementary Investigation
Beginning in February 2011, Chinese officials initiated a widespread crackdown on rights defenders, lawyers, democracy activists, artists, and bloggers after protests in the Middle East and North Africa and amid online calls for "Jasmine" protest rallies in China. (For more information on censorship of events related to the "Arab Spring" and the crackdown in China, see CECC analyses from 3 May 11 and 22 March 11.) Citizens detained in February included the democracy advocate Ding Mao. Public security bureau (PSB) officials in Mianyang city, Sichuan Province, originally detained Ding on February 19 on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power," and formally arrested him on March 28 for the same charge (ChinaAid Association (CAA), 17 October 11). While news stories have not explicitly noted the reasons given by authorities for the charge, Ding reportedly forwarded, via microblog, messages related to "Jasmine" protest rallies in China, according to the October 17 CAA press release. Ding reportedly pointed out that he did not author information related to the rallies, merely that he forwarded other people's postings (Radio Free Asia (RFA), 6 September 11). Authorities are reportedly holding Ding in the Mianyang Municipal Detention Center, according to the same article.

The procuratorate in Mianyang reportedly twice transferred Ding's case back to the PSB for supplementary investigation, citing a lack of evidence to prosecute on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power," once in May 2011 and again in September (CAA, 17 October 11 and Amnesty International, 9 September 11). After PSB officials completed their second supplementary investigation, authorities notified Ding's wife on October 24 that they had submitted the case to the procuratorate for the third and final time (CAA, 8 November 11). (For more information on relevant pre-trial procedures, see the PRC Criminal Procedure Law, Articles 66-70.)

In September, procuratorate officials in Suining municipality, Sichuan province, transferred the case of another democracy advocate detained in February, Chen Wei, back to the public security bureau for supplementary investigation for the second time (China Free Press, via Boxun 3 October 11). By late October, PSB officials reportedly finished this second supplementary investigation and sent his case back to the procuratorate for the third time (RFA, 31 October 11). In Chen's case, public security officials in Suining detained him on February 20 and formally arrested him on March 28; Suining PSB officers noted four essays on democracy and human rights authored by Chen and posted overseas in an opinion recommending prosecution (Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 28 October 11 and RFA, 8 September 11). Authorities are reportedly holding Chen in the Suining Municipal Detention Center, according to the CHRD article.

Authorities Deny Access to Counsel for Months
Mianyang officials have not yet permitted Ding's wife to visit him in detention and did not allow Ding's lawyer to see him for nearly six months after his initial detention, despite several attempts (CHRD, reprinted in Blogspot, 14 July 11). Ding finally met with his lawyer for the first time on August 11, 2011, according to the October 17 CAA article. Article 33 of the PRC Lawyers Law (Chinese) (English) states that a lawyer entrusted to a case has a right to meet with a criminal suspect as of the first police interrogation or from the day when "compulsory measures" are first taken (such as a summons or detention). Article 96 of the Criminal Procedure Law also stipulates that lawyers may meet with suspects, though advance approval is necessary for cases involving state secrets. It is unclear if officials have classified the case as a state secret and news articles have not indicated that Ding's case otherwise involves state secrets. Authorities also prohibited Chen Wei's lawyer from visiting him until September 8, 2011 (CHRD, 12 September 11 and RFA, 8 September 11). News articles have not indicated that Chen's case involves state secrets.

Officials Unresponsive to Family Requests for "Bail Pending Trial"
In addition, Mianyang authorities have not responded to Ding's wife's request to modify the "compulsory measures" in his case which might, for example, lead to his release on bail pending trial or allow him to be placed under residential surveillance (CAA, 17 October 11 and RFA, 6 September 11). (For more information on such arrangements, see Chapter VI of the Criminal Procedure Law.) Authorities in Chen Wei's case did not respond to a September 9 request made by his wife for bail pending trial. After she resubmitted her request for bail on September 20, domestic security protection officials reportedly told her that people in political cases like Chen's are unable to obtain bail (China Free Press, via Boxun, 3 October 11).

Ran Yunfei Released on Bail Pending Trial, Under "Residential Surveillance"
On August 9, officials in Chengdu municipality, Sichuan province, released on bail intellectual and writer Ran Yunfei and placed him under "residential surveillance" to be in effect for six months. It is possible the procuratorate did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute Ran's case. Ran reportedly posted microblog entries regarding the so-called "Arab Spring" protests in the Middle East (New York Times, 10 August 11, and Associated Press via the Guardian, 10 August 11).

For more information on the crackdown in China beginning in February 2011 and related cases, see Section III—Institutions of Democratic Governance, Section II—Criminal Justice, and Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-10-25 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Xinjiang Draft Legal Measures Promote Hiring Ethnic Minorities, Against Track Record of Employment Discrimination

November 18, 2011

New draft measures on employment promotion, under consideration in Xinjiang, stipulate measures to prevent discrimination and promote the hiring of non-Han ("ethnic minority") groups in the region. The measures track China's national employment promotion law, but also stipulate subsidies for hiring ethnic minorities. Such subsidies are absent in the national law and employment promotion regulations in other provincial-level areas. If passed, the impact of the draft measures remains unclear, however, as previous laws and regulations already bar discrimination and have failed to prevent hiring practices in Xinjiang that discriminate against job candidates based on factors including ethnicity and sex.

The Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) People's Congress recently completed a first stage of deliberations over draft implementation measures for China's Employment Promotion Law, according to October 9 and October 13, 2011, reports from Legal Daily. The reports highlight the draft's attention to employment discrimination and equal employment, noting stipulations that workers "enjoy the right to equal employment," that hiring units must provide "equal and fair employment opportunities," and that they "must not stipulate discriminatory employment conditions." In addition, the draft stipulates that ethnic minority candidates testing for jobs with the government and state-run institutions receive "appropriate consideration" (shidang zhaogu) and that enterprises that recruit and hire ethnic minority candidates enjoy social insurance subsidies (shehui baoxian butie).

Based on the descriptions of the draft implementing measures in the Legal Daily articles (the full text of the draft measures appears unavailable), the Xinjiang measures mirror many of the provisions in China's national law on employment promotion. Article 3 of the national law states that workers have the right to equal employment and that they are not to be discriminated against based on differences such as ethnicity, race, sex, and religious belief. Article 26 states specifically that employing units and employment intermediaries are to provide equal employment opportunities and not practice employment discrimination. Other articles that address discrimination include Article 25 (stipulating that governments create an environment for equal employment and eliminate discrimination) and Articles 29 and 31 (stipulating that disabled workers and rural workers, respectively, not be discriminated against in hiring). Under Article 62, workers may bring a suit in court in cases of discrimination. It is unclear if the XUAR draft includes similar language on lawsuits. The national law also includes language stating that hiring units shall give "appropriate consideration" to ethnic minorities (Article 28), but it does not include provisions on insurance subsidies.

To date, 19 other provincial-level areas in China appear to have issued implementing measures, regulations, or amended regulations on employment promotion, following passage of the national law. The draft Xinjiang measures appear to be the only one that includes subsidies for employers that hire ethnic minorities, though some other regulations contain multiple provisions addressing discrimination or promoting the employment of ethnic minorities. See, for example, implementing measures from Hunan and Hainan provinces. For comparison with provisions from another autonomous region, see implementing measures from the Tibet Autonomous Region.

It is unclear what impact the XUAR measures, if passed as drafted, would have on curbing discriminatory hiring practices. As noted in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2011 Annual Report, despite already existing prohibitions against employment discrimination in Chinese law, some government and private employers in the XUAR have continued to discriminate against categories of job candidates including ethnic minorities and women. The XUAR draft's provision on insurance subsidies may provide a new incentive for eliminating some discriminatory practices and promoting the hiring of ethnic minority candidates, but it is unclear if subsidies to date have been effective in promoting similar employment policies in the region. A XUAR government and Party committee opinion on employment promotion issued in October 2009 included provisions on equal employment opportunities (Item 3) and called for "recruiting more ethnic minority workers to the extent possible"—including an unspecified "fixed proportion" of positions for ethnic minority college graduates (Item 2.2)—but follow-up reporting on the opinion and information on its impact was limited. The opinion also stipulated that the government would subsidize old-age pension insurance for enterprises hiring workers from Xinjiang (Item 2.2), but did not stipulate subsidies specifically for ethnic minority workers from the region.

Moreover, as noted in the CECC 2011 Annual Report, some job recruitment announcements from the XUAR continued to reserve positions exclusively for Han Chinese in civil servant posts and private-sector jobs. A job announcement for a hospital in Urumqi city, for example, advertised in late 2010 for 28 positions, all of which were reserved for Han. Civil servant recruitment in fall 2010 for county-level discipline inspection and supervision offices reserved 93 of 224 open positions for Han, leaving 93 of the remaining positions unrestricted by ethnicity and reserving 38 for members of non-Han groups. In an apparent shift from previous years, however, 2011 annual recruiting for the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) left almost all positions unreserved by ethnicity—marking a change from past practice of formally reserving a majority of positions for Han—but the XPCC continued restrictions based on sex.

See Section II7mdash;Labor and Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2011 Annual Report for additional information. See also CECC analyses (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) for more information on job recruiting practices in the XUAR in 2011 and in previous years.

Source: -See Summary (2011-10-19 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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China's White Paper on Corruption and Official Anti-Corruption Efforts

December 14, 2011

The State Council of China issued China's first white paper on corruption titled "China's Efforts to Combat Corruption and Build a Clean Government" in late December 2010, amid an official "anti-corruption storm," high-profile arrests of corruption suspects, and ongoing announcements of new anti-corruption measures. While the white paper did not outline new policy directions, it gave unusual attention to citizen participation in anti-corruption efforts. Over the last few months, central authorities also promoted in the media official channels for citizens to report possible instances of corruption and outlined protections for whistleblowers in government circulars. Whistleblower protections, however, remain inadequate in practice and some non-governmental Web sites that posted reports on alleged corruption have faced cyber attacks and authorities have threatened to close Web sites or warned some webmasters to shut down their sites.

The Information Office of the State Council issued China's first white paper on corruption titled "China's Efforts to Combat Corruption and Build a Clean Government" (English) (Chinese) on December 29, 2010, which acknowledges that corruption in China remains a problem and attributes its persistence to changes in China's economic and social systems as well as "incomplete anti-corruption mechanisms." The white paper followed reported statements by Premier Wen Jiabao saying that the root of corruption lies with the failure to restrict and supervise authority and that corruption is the largest threat to Communist Party rule and government legitimacy (China Review, 27 August 10). The white paper (Section IV) asserts that transparency of government operations is the "best supervision of power" and that China values supervision by the general public and by "public opinion" (i.e., the media) in combating corruption and building a clean government. It explains that citizens participate in "supervision" by filing complaints and making suggestions through institutionalized channels, and it outlines regulatory protections for corruption case informants. News reports, however, continue to detail cases of retribution against whistleblowers (see details below), and authorities reportedly also have censored several non-governmental "confess a bribe" and other independent corruption monitoring Web sites. The white paper came amid the release of several new or revised central-level anti-corruption measures (People's Daily, index, accessed 7 August 11), and a wide-scale anti-corruption campaign (People's Daily, 20 December 10).

Regulatory Protections for Whistleblowers
The white paper states that authorities "attach great importance to protecting the legitimate rights and interests" of informants (Chapter Four) and notes that authorities included stipulations protecting the confidentiality of informants in China's Criminal Law (Article 254), Criminal Procedure Law (Articles 84-85), and internal regulations of the Communist Party. The white paper also notes China signed the United Nation's 2003 Convention Against Corruption. As a signatory, China agreed to Convention Articles that call on State Parties to incorporate into their domestic legal systems measures to protect citizens who report on offences related to corruption (Article 33). The white paper also pointed out that Chinese authorities also enshrined protection for informants in additional laws and regulations:
  • China's Constitution in principle gives citizens the right to "criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary…" and "[n]o one may suppress such complaints, charges and exposures, or retaliate against the citizens making them" (Article 41).
  • The State Council's 2005 Regulations on Letters and Visits (Xinfang Tiaoli) (English) (Chinese), also stipulate that citizens have the right to make reports or complaints without retribution (Articles 1-3).
  • On June 25, 2010, Chinese officials issued a revision to the Law of the People's Republic of China on Administrative Supervision that stipulates personal information about whistleblowers should be kept confidential and their rights protected in accordance with measures established by the State Council (Article 6). Further, it stipulates that it is a crime to release information about an informant or the circumstances of an informant's report, subject to punishment and criminal liability will be pursued (Article 46).
Protections for Whistleblowers Remain Insufficient in Practice
In practice, however, protections for whistleblowers at this time remain insufficiently developed. More than 70 percent of the cases of government work-related corruption offenses filed with procuratorate offices in the past few years initially involved a tip from an informant (Legal Daily, 21 June 10), but 70 percent of those informants reportedly faced some form of retribution (Legal Daily, 17 June 2010). Over the last year, Chinese and international media have highlighted several instances of retribution against whistleblowers (China Media Project, 19 April 11; China Daily, 3 December 10; and South China Morning Post [SCMP], 3 December 10—subscription required).

While authorities state they encourage public supervision and have established official tip sites, officials have reportedly blocked non-governmental whistleblower Web sites and suppressed some independent monitoring activities. The founder of the whistleblower Web site "China Justice and Anti-Corruption Net" reported that his site was filtered by China's top search engine, Baidu, and that officials from press and government agencies pressured him to remove a post about alleged forced evictions (Radio Free Asia, 11 January 11). In early June, new sites based on "confess-a-bribe" Web sites in India began to appear in China (Reuters, 13 June 11), but by mid-June, authorities began blocking access to the sites and warning webmasters to close the sites (Associated Press via Center for Intl. Media Assistance, 22 June 11). The sites, some receiving tens to hundreds of thousands of hits, are likely considered illegal because they are unregistered, and at least two have been targets of cyber attacks (China Times News Group, 18 June 11). Other cases where officials displayed intolerance for independent corruption monitoring and reporting include:
  • In July 2011, court officials in Tengzhou city, Shandong province rejected an appeal by journalist Qi Chonghuai, known for his official corruption exposés and who had already completed four years in prison on charges of extortion and blackmail following posting stories online about the alleged corrupt practices of municipal government officials (Human Rights in China, 28 July 11). The Tengzhou city Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to eight additional years on the charge of embezzlement, according to the July 28 HRIC press release.
  • Authorities in Shenzhen city, Guangdong province continue to harass anti-corruption advocate Guo Yongfeng, who officials released from a reeducation through labor facility in August 2011, after he had served 1 year and 9 months. Officials sentenced Guo with "obstructing public affairs," likely in relation to Guo’s alleged involvement in organizing petitions calling for an end to corruption and his role in establishing an unregistered citizens’ group called Citizens' Association for Government Oversight, which sought to monitor alleged official corruption. (Deutsche Welle, 5 September 11 and Chinese Human Rights Defenders, 29 January 09, via Boxun).
Recent Anti-Corruption Efforts and Growing Official Corruption Levels
In the effort to address corruption, Wen Jiabao outlined specific anti-corruption priorities for 2011 in his speech at a "clean government work" conference in March 2011 (Xinhua, 5 April 11). In addition, central officials issued numerous provisions, regulations, and guidelines during 2010 and 2011 (People's Daily, index, accessed 7 August 11). Select anti-corruption measures are listed below:
  • Provision Regarding Implementation of the Responsibility System for Construction of an Honest Party and a Clean Government (2010) (Chinese Text), which is a general provision to promote official accountability.
  • The Supreme People's Court reportedly issued three new regulations to address corruption in the judicial system (China Daily, 9 February 11).
  • "Three Public Expenses" policy, which requires government departments to make public their expenditures on overseas trips, public relations activities, and vehicles (Xinhua, 7 April 11 and People's Daily Foreign Edition, via Legal Daily, 7 April 11).
  • Regulation on Economic Responsibility Audits for Chief Leading Cadres of the Party and the Government and Executives of State-Owned Enterprises, which seeks to reduce corruption by improving the management and supervision of Party, government, and state-owned enterprises' finances and investments. (Xinhua, 8 December 10). Authorities will reportedly use the results of audits in decisions about official appointments and removals (People's Daily, 9 December 10).
Despite new regulatory efforts, corruption in China appears to be rising. In 2010, state corruption investigations of individual government officials rose by 6.1 percent to 44,085 cases from the previous year. (People's Daily, 20 March 11). In 2011, the media highlighted a number of high-profile cases of corruption and graft, including Xu Zongheng, the former mayor of Shenzhen city, Guangdong province, who between 2001 and 2009 reportedly took 33.18 million yuan (US$5.19 million) in bribes, and former vice-mayor of Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province, Xu Maiyong, who was accused of accepting a total of 160 million yuan (US$25.03 million) in bribes between 1995 and 2009 (Caixin, 10 May 11 and SCMP, 2 May 11—“Just the Tip of an Iceberg for Official Graft”—and 28 March 11—“The Worst System Corrupts its Best Officials”— subscription required). In its 2010 Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International gave China a score of 3.5 down from a score of 3.6 in 2009 (on a scale for which 10 signifies "highly clean"). The index reflects the results of the organization’s complex measurement of the perceived levels of corruption in the public sector (Transparency International, 2010 and 2009).

For additional analysis of anti-corruption measures last year and in previous years, see previous CECC analyses (5 November 10 and 4 January 07). For more information on issues of corruption and Party and government transparency see the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 166-167), the 2010 Annual Report (pp. 171-176), and the 2009 Annual Report (pp. 212-214).

Source: -See Summary (2011-10-19 / English) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Xinjiang Students Continue to Harvest Cotton, Directive Allows Child Labor

November 14, 2011

Education authorities in Xinjiang have continued to require students to pick cotton during the fall harvest, in some cases violating permitted parameters for "work-study" programs as stipulated in local directives, as well as contravening domestic and international standards regulating students' work activities and prohibiting child labor. Xinjiang authorities announced in 2008 that students in junior high and lower grades would no longer pick cotton in work-study programs, but issued a directive in 2009 that appears to affirm that younger students may continue to engage in cotton harvesting and other labor as part of work to "help with agriculture," despite the prohibitions against child labor in Chinese law. Reports from the past year indicate that some localities used these younger students to harvest cotton. Xinjiang high schools and colleges continued to make older students pick cotton in work-study programs, in some reported cases exceeding the permitted time period for work-study under local directives and in one reported case levying fines on students who didn't meet quotas. Work-study programs and cotton-picking activities have drawn complaints from students and parents due to the hazards of the work and effect on children's education. The use of student labor this year comes as the region reported difficulties in recruiting regular agricultural workers to pick cotton.

Xinjiang Directives Permit Cotton Harvesting
Education authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have continued to require students to pick cotton during the fall harvest. In some cases, students have been required to pick cotton as part of formal "work-study" programs that integrate the labor into the school curriculum. A circular issued by the Xinjiang Education Department in 2008 ended the practice of having students enrolled in the state's compulsory nine years of elementary and junior high school education pick cotton in work-study programs. (Analysis here. Full text of circular apparently unavailable.) The circular appeared to leave some other forms of work-study in place for these students, while continuing to permit the use of older students to harvest cotton in work-study programs. A 2006 opinion defined the overall scope of work-study, limiting it to children in the third grade of elementary school and higher, as well as limiting work-study to 7 days for elementary school students and 14 days for students in higher grades. The XUAR government reportedly discontinued cotton-picking work-study activities for younger students because central government funding for rural compulsory education now met XUAR schools' funding needs. Despite the prohibition, some schools continued to require younger students to harvest cotton in work-study programs. (See analyses 1, 2 from 2008 and 2010.)

A 2009 circular recently found by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China builds on the 2008 directive and appears to explicitly permit labor by younger students outside the context of work-study, as well as to continue to permit certain forms of labor within the work-study context. (See the only apparent full text copy of the circular on the Internet as posted on August 20, 2009, on the Kuitun Education Bureau Web site.) The circular affirms the 2008 prohibition on elementary and junior high school students picking cotton (Item 1). It notes that with funding advances for compulsory education, schools will no longer organize work-study with the goal of making a profit, but specifies that schools may organize certain types of work-study and other "social practice" activities in order to generate income to be used to support the daily needs and studies (shenghuo he xuexi) of poor students (Item 2). The circular also notes that any crop picking or harvesting activities organized by local governments are not to be considered as "work-study" activities (Item 3)—an apparent allowance for continued crop harvesting by young students, though removing it as a formal part of the school curriculum and basis for grading students. Formal work-study programs had provoked criticism in the past in part because students' performance in the activities affected their academic record, though parents and students also objected to the arduousness of the labor and exposure to danger. A government response to an inquiry on work-study by junior high students, posted September 7, 2011, on a message board on the Xinjiang Education Department Web site, affirms that the 2008 and 2009 government circulars continue to guide policy in the region.

The practical distinction between younger students' cotton harvesting in work-study programs (still practiced in some localities in recent years despite the 2008 prohibition) and cotton harvesting to "help with agriculture" appears minimal. Students and parents continue to object to both forms of labor and at least one locality appears to have prohibited the use of child cotton harvesters in any context. (See discussion below.) The use of younger students to harvest cotton violates domestic and international protections against child labor. The work-study programs for older students as implemented in parts of the XUAR violate permitted parameters for work-study as stipulated in local directives and contravenes domestic and international standards regulating students' work activities. See a previous CECC analysis for more information.

Students Continue to Pick Cotton in the XUAR in 2011
Although it is unclear the full extent to which younger students were involved in cotton harvesting this year—either under the guise of permitted activities to "help with agriculture" or in work-study programs, despite the 2008 prohibitions—some media reports and blog postings indicate that the use of child labor to harvest cotton continued. In one case, a report described this as work to "help with agriculture," and in other cases, the framework for organizing the labor was unclear. According to a September 24, 2011, Bingtuan News Net article profiling cotton harvesters, the 44th Regiment (3rd Agricultural Division, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps) Number 1 Middle and Elementary School in Kashgar district organized students to "help with agriculture" by picking cotton. The Bingtuan News Net article profiled a student in the sixth grade at the school. Though the identities of the authors cannot be verified, blog and Internet postings from junior high school students also suggest that younger students continue to pick cotton. A blogger describing himself as a first-year junior high student (7th-grade student) at the same Kashgar school reported that his school had arranged for students to pick cotton, with daily quotas of 25 kilograms [4 kilograms above the quota for his classmate in the grade below him, discussed above], according to a September 24 posting (cached) on a blog hosted at 30edu.com. The author of a September 22 posting on the variety site Maopu said that students enrolled in nine years of compulsory education were made to pick cotton. The author noted that students in the third grade and above—a possible reference to elementary school students, based on the context—had been required to pick cotton for 15 days. A report from a township in Keping (Kelpin) county, Aksu district, called for the township to end the practice of using students in compulsory education to pick cotton, according to a September 7 report on Kunlun Net.

Older students also picked cotton this year, in some reported cases exceeding the permitted 14-day time period for work-study as stipulated under local directives and in one reported case levying fines on students who didn't meet quotas. A vice principal at one senior high school in Huocheng (Korgas) county, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, reported students would perform 20 days of work-study activities to pick cotton, training them to "endure hardships" and learn teamwork, according to a September 24 report on Ili Net. (See an undated posting on Zhongguo Gaoxiao Portal for more information about the school.) Students will live on the premises while picking cotton, according to the report. In Wusu (Shixo) city, Tacheng (Tarbaghatay) district, Ili—where a parent complained in 2008 that junior high school students were made to pick cotton and where students in 2008 and 2010 reportedly did this work beyond the permitted time period of 14 days—students at one senior high school were reported to pick cotton again for 15 days this year as part of "social practice labor" allowing them to "experience the hardships and happiness of labor," according to a September 27 report on the Xinjiang Agricultural Information Portal Web site. (See an undated posting on the Wusu Municipal Education Bureau Web site for information noting that the school is a senior high school.) A September 20 Fujian Online report about a technical college in the XUAR reported that the school required all second-year students to pick cotton for two weeks and face fines if they didn't meet quotas, with all profits going to the college president.

The use of student labor comes amid reports of a shortage of cotton pickers that exceeds shortages in previous years, according to recent media reports. A September 8, 2011, Xinhua report noted high expenses for harvesting cotton this year and problems in attracting workers to the XUAR to pick cotton. A labor recruiter interviewed in the story attributed the labor recruitment difficulties to workers' raised wage expectations amid a rise in commodity prices, comparable wages in jobs such as the urban construction industry, and resistance to wage deductions given to middlemen who recruit cotton pickers. A cotton farmer cited in a September 20 Tianshan Net article attributed the worker shortage to a rise in workers' wages in other areas, thereby reducing the number of people who carry out temporary labor to pick cotton, along with insufficient support from local governments in organizing labor exports and fluctuating wages for cotton pickers. A labor recruiter cited in an October 11 China Daily article noted workers were hard to recruit because "[s]ome have concerns and even misunderstandings about the long journey, intensive labor and personal security, which makes them unwilling to come." The previous year, one official cited the Urumqi "July 5 Incident" (demonstrations and riots that took place in July 2009), as a cause of the region's labor shortage in 2010. The XUAR plans to recruit a total of 400,000 workers in 2011 from areas in China outside the XUAR, according to a Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps regiment leader cited in a September 19 Tianshan Net report. Xinjiang residents from "all areas and ethnicities" also have joined the ranks of the cotton pickers, according to the report.

For additional information on conditions in the XUAR and on child labor, see Section II—Worker Rights and Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2011-10-13 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Dalai Lama Rejects Communist Party "Brazen Meddling" in Tibetan Buddhist Reincarnation

November 14, 2011


In a September 24, 2011, signed statement, the Dalai Lama rejected Communist Party attempts to use historical misrepresentation and government regulation to impose unprecedented control over one of Tibetan Buddhism's most important features—lineages of teachers (trulkus), whom Tibetan Buddhists believe are reincarnations, that can span centuries. The Dalai Lama addressed issues pertaining to reincarnation generally and to his potential reincarnation specifically, likely rendering the statement of exceptional significance to Tibetan Buddhists. He denounced the Chinese government's "Order No. 5," a reference to the PRC Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism, as "outrageous and disgraceful," and provided a historical basis for rejecting government and Party claims that Tibetan Buddhists selected the 9th through 14th (current) Dalai Lamas in compliance with instructions in a Qing imperial edict. The Dalai Lama's statement explained briefly the Tibetan Buddhist concepts of reincarnation and "emanation"—the latter suggests that the Dalai Lama could establish a successor while he is still living. He concluded by declaring that when he is about 90 years old—he is 76 now—he will take measures to resolve whether or not there will be a 15th Dalai Lama; by condemning Party interference in Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation; and by stating that in the future it will be "impossible" for Tibetan Buddhists to "acknowledge or accept" such "brazen meddling."

Tibetan Buddhists who live in the Tibetan areas of China—where officials characterize the Dalai Lama as a "splittist"—likely will regard the Dalai Lama's September 24 statement (Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (OHHDL), 24 September 11), as of heightened importance due to the statement's formality and public release, the significance of the issues to the future of Tibetan Buddhism, and the strong wording of his remarks. The statement followed March 10 and March 14, 2011, addresses (OHHDL, 10 March 11; OHHDL, 14 March 11) in which he explained his decision to take steps to end the historical role of Dalai Lamas in Tibetan governance—a change that he said on March 19 "could allow him to concentrate more effectively on [a] spiritual role" (Phayul, 19 March 11).

The statement. The Dalai Lama published the formal statement, written in the first-person and signed, on the OHHDL Tibetan-language Web site. Translations of the statement into English and Chinese are available on the respective OHHDL Web sites. Tibetans in China could circulate the document widely, but with risk. Since Chinese officials characterize the Dalai Lama as a "splittist" (see, e.g., CECC 2011 Annual Report, 208), authorities sometimes detain or imprison Tibetans on charges of "inciting splittism" (Criminal Law, Article 103(2)) for creating, possessing, or sharing print, audio, or video material pertaining to the Dalai Lama. The Commission's Political Prisoner Database documents such cases. (In the Dalai Lama's March 10, 2011, address, he reiterated that he is not seeking Tibetan independence, but "genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the PRC," and expressed disappointment in the "lack of any positive response to our reasonable proposals.")

Reincarnation and emanation. The Dalai Lama provided an overview of the complex Tibetan Buddhist concepts of "reincarnation" and "emanation." In the case of reincarnation, he said, "superior Bodhisattvas" (beings possessed of the highest level of Buddhist understanding and compassionate motivation) "are able to choose their place and time of birth as well as their future parents." Tibetan Buddhists regard the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion (OHHDL, "A Brief Biography"). As such, Tibetan Buddhists believe that upon the current Dalai Lama's death, Avalokitesvara could reincarnate as a 15th Dalai Lama, and that such a reincarnation would not require the oversight or approval of the Chinese government—the interference that the Dalai Lama referred to in his statement as "Order No. 5" (i.e., Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism). In the case of "emanation," according to the Dalai Lama's remarks, "superior Bodhisattvas," can manifest themselves in one or more other "bodies" (e.g., persons) simultaneously while they are still alive. Based on the explanation, the Dalai Lama could manifest one or more emanations prior to his death, and reincarnation could follow his death. He quoted a 19th century Tibetan Buddhist master to underscore the point:
    Reincarnation is what happens when someone takes rebirth after the predecessor's passing away; emanation is when manifestations take place without the source's passing away.
The golden urn. The Dalai Lama explained his rejection of Chinese government and Party assertions that a legitimate historical basis exists for selecting Tibetan Buddhist reincarnations by drawing a lot from a golden urn. According to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), a 1792 Qing "Imperial Ordinance" set out "explicit terms for the reincarnation of the Living Buddhas in Tibet" (MFA, 15 November 00 (1)), including that Tibetans must use "a golden urn and ivory slips" provided by the Qing emperor for the prescribed ritual (MFA, 15 November 00 (2)). The Dalai Lama acknowledged that after the Tibetan government requested Manchu (Qing) military support in a conflict with Gurkhas, "Manchu officials made a 29-point proposal on the pretext of making the Tibetan Government's administration more efficient," including recognizing high-ranking reincarnations by "picking lots from a Golden Urn." According to the Dalai Lama's summary, only the 11th Dalai Lama and the 8th and 9th Panchen Lamas were selected solely by using the golden urn. Tibetan Buddhists reject using the urn, the Dalai Lama said, because "[t]his system was imposed by the Manchus" and because "Tibetans had no faith in it because it lacked any spiritual quality." An October 31, 2011, People's Daily editorial (in Chinese on People's Daily; translated in OSC, 9 November 11) dismissed the Dalai Lama's statement and claimed that China's "central government" had approved lot-drawing selections of the 10th through 12th Dalai Lamas and officially exempted the selections of the 9th, 13th, and 14th Dalai Lamas by using the golden urn.
  • The 11th Panchen Lama. Chinese authorities declared the Dalai Lama's May 14, 1995, recognition of six-year-old Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama to be "illegal and invalid" and have held him and his parents incommunicado in one or more unknown locations since May 17, 1995. On November 29, 1995, Luo Gan, State Councilor and Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee's Political and Legal Affairs Commission (Xinhua, 15 November 02), was the most senior government and Party official presiding over a ceremony that selected another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, by using the Qing golden urn (Xinhua, 29 November 95 (translated in OSC)). In April 1997, a Chinese court imprisoned Chadrel Jampa Trinle, a Rinpoche and trulku who led the search for the reincarnation, to six years' imprisonment on charges of "plotting to split the country" and "leaking state secrets" (the names of boys under consideration) to "separatist forces abroad" (the Dalai Lama) (Xinhua, 7 May 97, reprinted in World Tibet Network; Tibet Radio, 4 November 95 (translated in OSC)). No details on Chadrel Rinpoche's location or well-being have been available since his reported release in early 2002 (New York Times, 21 February 02). (See CECC 2008 Annual Report, 189.)
The Declaration. The Dalai Lama described the final portion of his statement as a "declaration." He summed up his basis for rejecting Party interference in identifying trulkus and outlined measures he intends to take to protect the legitimacy of a possible 15th Dalai Lama. Excerpts from the declaration follow.
  • Trulkus guide their own reincarnations. "[The] person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth . . . . It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, . . ., to meddle in the system of reincarnation . . . ."
  • Tibetan Buddhists will not accept continued Party interference. "Such brazen meddling contradicts [Communist] political ideology and reveals their double standards. Should this situation continue in the future, it will be impossible for Tibetans and those who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to acknowledge or accept it."
  • Around 2025, time to decide the future of Dalai Lamas. "When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other [Tibetan Buddhists], and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not." (The Dalai Lama was born in 1935 (OHHDL, "A Brief Biography")).
  • Organization named to lead the search. "If it is decided that . . . there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility . . . will primarily rest on . . . the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust." (The Commission has not observed information about the Trust or references to it that predate the statement.)
  • Written instructions will guide the search. "[Officers of the Trust] should seek advice and direction from [certain Tibetan Buddhist leaders and other entities] and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this."
For additional information, see Commission analysis of the Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism, and of prefectural-level regulatory measures on Tibetan Buddhist affairs. See also sections on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in the Commission's 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 Annual Reports, and in Special Topic Paper: Tibet 2008-2009.


Source: -See Summary (2011-10-04 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Uyghur Political Prisoners Mehbube Ablesh's and Abdulghani Memetemin's Prison Sentences Expire

October 18, 2011

The prison sentences of two Uyghur political prisoners in Xinjiang have expired, and both are presumed to have since been released. Mehbube Ablesh completed a three-year prison sentence for "splittism" around August 2011. Authorities handed down the prison sentence in apparent connection to her criticism of Chinese government policies, including Mandarin-focused "bilingual" education. Abdulghani Memetemin completed a nine-year prison sentence in late July for "supplying state secrets" to an overseas group. He had sent information on human rights abuses and translations of Chinese government speeches to an organization in Germany that monitors rights violations against Uyghurs. Other Uyghurs in Xinjiang continue to serve prison sentences for exercising their right to free expression.

Mehbube Ablesh
Uyghur radio station employee Mehbube Ablesh completed a three-year prison sentence for "splittism" around August and is presumed to have since been released, according to information in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Political Prisoner Database. As reported in the Political Prisoner Database, Mehbube Ablesh, a Uyghur woman from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), was detained around August 2008 in apparent connection to her criticism of Chinese government policies. The detention came after she was fired from her job in the advertising department at the Xinjiang People's Radio Station. A co-worker connected the detention to articles she wrote for the Internet. An overseas source said that in Mehbube Ablesh's communications with him, she had been critical of political leaders in the XUAR and had criticized Mandarin-focused "bilingual" education in the region. A source also noted she had posted articles on the Internet that criticized government security measures for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games and government handling of collecting donations from Uyghurs following the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake. She served her sentence at the Xinjiang Number 2 Prison. For additional information, see Radio Free Asia reports from September 8, 2008, (English, Uyghur) and September 9, 2008 (Mandarin).

Following the detention, charges against Mehbube Ablesh and subsequent information on the case appeared unknown until summer 2010, when the Dui Hua Foundation reported newly obtained information on her case. Based on responses to a request for information from Chinese authorities, the Dui Hua Foundation reported that Mehbube Ablesh (identified as Mehbube Abrak in the report) was serving a three-year prison sentence for "splittism" (separatism), a crime under Article 103 of China's Criminal Law (English, Chinese). Given the length of the sentence and circumstances of the case, the Dui Hua Foundation conjectured that the full charge could be "inciting splittism." For additional information, see the Dui Hua Foundation's summer 2010 Dialogue Newsletter and article on Uyghur cases.

Under Article 47 of China's Criminal Law, each day in custody counts as one day served of a prison sentence. Although the precise date of Mehbube Ablesh's detention is not known, if authorities followed the law in calculating her sentence from the day around August 2008 when she appears to have been detained, her sentence would have expired on the same date in 2011.

Abdulghani Memetemin
Uyghur teacher and journalist Abdulghani Memetemin completed his nine-year sentence for "supplying state secrets to an organization outside the country" on July 25 and is presumed to have since been released from prison, according to information in the CECC Political Prisoner Database. As reported in the Political Prisoner Database, authorities in Kashgar district, XUAR, detained Abdulghani Memetemin on July 26, 2002, in connection to his reporting on human rights abuses to an overseas group. He was charged with "threatening the integrity of the state by separatist means, violating state secrets and sending them outside the country." The Kashgar Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to nine years' imprisonment on June 24, 2003, on the charge of "supplying state secrets for an organization outside the country," a crime under Article 111 of China's Criminal Law.

The verdict cited information on human rights abuses and translations of Chinese government speeches and news that Abdulghani Memetemin provided to the East Turkistan Information Center, a Munich-based organization that reports on human rights violations against Uyghurs. Abdulghani Memetemin reportedly represented himself at trial and did not have access to a lawyer before trial. He reportedly was tortured while in custody. He served his sentence at the Xinjiang Number 4 Prison. See a December 6, 2004, report from Amnesty International and July 30, 2004, report from Radio Free Asia for additional information.

Uyghurs Imprisoned for Exercising Right to Free Expression
Authorities in the XUAR continue to hold other Uyghurs in detention for exercising their right to free expression. Cases include:
  • Gheyret Niyaz, a journalist and Web editor in Urumqi, was sentenced by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court on July 23, 2010, to 15 years' imprisonment for "leaking state secrets." Prosecutors in court cited essays by Gheyret Niyaz addressing economic and social problems affecting Uyghurs. Sources also connected the prison sentence to interviews Gheyret Niyaz gave to foreign media after the July 2009 demonstrations and riots that were critical of aspects of government policy in the XUAR.
  • Gulmira (Gulmire) Imin, a Uyghur Web site administrator and government employee, was sentenced by the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court on April 1, 2010, to life in prison for "splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration." Authorities alleged she was involved in organizing demonstrations that took place in the XUAR on July 5, 2009.
  • Memetjan Abdulla, a Uyghur journalist and Web site administrator, was sentenced by the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court to life in prison on April 1, 2010. The sentence is in apparent connection to an announcement he translated that called on Uyghurs to hold demonstrations in July 2009 and in connection to interviews he gave to foreign journalists.
  • Nijat Azat, Dilshat Perhat, and Nureli, Web site administrators, received prison sentences of 10, 5, and 3 years, respectively, in July 2010 for "endangering state security." Sources connected the cases to their Web sites not deleting postings about hardships in the XUAR and, in one instance, permitting the posting of announcements for the July 2009 demonstration.
  • Nurmemet Yasin, a Uyghur writer, was sentenced by the Bachu (Maralbeshi) County People's Court in Kashgar district to 10 years in prison on February 2, 2005, for "inciting racial hatred or discrimination." (Some sources have reported that the sentence was for "inciting splittism.") He was sentenced after writing a story about a caged bird who commits suicide rather than live without freedom.
  • Tursunjan Hezim, a Uyghur Web site administrator, was sentenced by the Aksu Intermediate People's Court in July 2010 to seven years' imprisonment. Precise charges are not known, but the sentence is in apparent connection to Tursunjan Hezim's Web site on Uyghur history and culture and came during a period in which authorities cast blame on Uyghur Web sites for allegedly contributing to unrest during demonstrations and riots in the XUAR in July 2009.
For more information on conditions in the XUAR, see Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-09-06 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-22  
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Relatives and Supporters of Chen Guangcheng Harassed, Beaten, Detained

May 10, 2012

Following his escape from illegal home confinement on April 22, 2012, legal advocate Chen Guangcheng sought safety in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for six days while U.S. and Chinese officials negotiated a deal for his and his family's freedom (New York Times, 2 May 12). Chen left the U.S. embassy under U.S. official escort on May 2 to receive medical treatment at a nearby hospital for injuries sustained during his escape as well as for an ongoing gastrointestinal illness (Foreign Policy, 7 May 12).

During his confinement at the hospital, Chen reported that he would like to travel to the United States with his family to rest (Washington Post, 3 May 12), and he later reported that Chinese officials are assisting in his plans to do so (NYT, 8 May 12). As he waits for a passport and other paperwork needed to leave the country and pursue a fellowship offered to him by the New York University School of Law, Chen has repeatedly raised concerns about official retaliation against his relatives in Shandong province. (See, for example, WP, 3 May 12; NYT 8 May 12; AP, via WP, 10 May 12; and Reuters, 10 May 12.)

Status of Chen Guangcheng's Relatives

The Commission continues to closely monitor developments on the treatment and whereabouts of Chen Guangcheng's relatives. The following list is updated as of May 10, 2012:
  • Yuan Weijing. Chen Guangcheng's wife. Currently with Chen Guangcheng at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing. Yuan reportedly faces restrictions on freedom of movement and has had to "pass security checks before being allowed out to buy food for the family" (RFA, 8 May 12).

  • Chen Kerui and Chen Kesi. Chen Guangcheng's eleven-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Currently with Chen Guangcheng and Yuan Weijing at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing (RFA, 8 May 12).

  • Wang Jinxiang. Chen Guangcheng's 78-year-old mother. Chen reported that she remained confined in his home in Shandong province, and that she suffers from ill health (Metro Nieuws, 9 May 12). Chen and Yuan have expressed concerns about leaving her behind (Daily Beast, 8 May 12).

  • Chen Guangfu. Chen Guangcheng's older brother. Authorities detained Chen Guangfu on April 26 following a clash with police in his home (CHRD, 1 May 12). Authorities released him on May 7 (VOA, translated by China Aid Association, 7 May 12). Chen Guangfu reportedly remains under close police surveillance and is forbidden to leave his village or make any phone calls (RFA, 8 May 12).

  • Chen Kegui. Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Guangfu's son. Chen Guangcheng has continued to raise specific concerns about the situation of Chen Kegui, who is allegedly facing charges of "intentional homicide." Chen Kegui reportedly clashed with officials when they invaded his home after discovering Chen Guangcheng had escaped. A lawyer who volunteered to defend Chen Kegui reported that at least one official was injured during the confrontation, but no one was killed (AP, via CBS, 10 May 12). Chen Kegui is currently held at the Yinan County Detention Center in Shandong province where he has reportedly been beaten (RFA, 8 May 12).

  • Ren Zongju. Cheng Guangcheng's sister-in-law, Cheng Guangfu's wife, and Chen Kegui's mother. Ren was reportedly detained and then released pending trial on charges of "harboring a criminal," Chen Kegui (RFA, 8 May 12).

  • Liu Fang. Chen Guangcheng's niece-in-law, Chen Kegui's wife. Chen reported that officials had taken Liu into custody after she attempted to hire a lawyer (RFA, 8 May 12). Chen later reported to Voice of America, however, that Liu was missing and that officials were searching for her to get her signature (VOA, in Chinese, 9 May 12). Information on Liu's current whereabouts appears to be unavailable.

  • Chen Guangcun. Chen Guangcheng's cousin. Officials reportedly took Chen Guangcun and his son into custody on April 28, 2012. Information on his current whereabouts appears to be unavailable (Chinese Human Rights Defenders, 1 May 12).

  • Chen Hua. Chen Guangcheng's cousin. Chen Guangcun's son. Officials reportedly took Chen Hua and his father into custody on April 28, 2012. Information on his current whereabouts appears to be unavailable (CHRD, 1 May 12).
Status of Chen Guangcheng's Supporters

Many who have supported Chen Guangcheng during and after his escape from illegal home confinement have faced official harassment and detention in connection with these efforts. The Commission continues to closely monitor developments on the treatment and whereabouts of these persons as well. The following list is updated as of May 10, 2012:
  • He Peirong. Nanjing-based human rights advocate. Played a key role in transporting Chen Guangcheng from Shandong province to Beijing following his escape. State security personnel reportedly took He from her home in Nanjing "to assist with investigations" (Reuters, 7 May 12). She was interrogated in a hotel for seven days and has now returned home, where she is "allowed to move about freely" (NYT, 8 May 12). On May 10, He posted on her Twitter account that she is not accepting interviews with the media (Twitter, 10 May 12).

  • Guo Yushan. Beijing-based scholar and human rights advocate. Authorities initially detained him for 50 hours following Chen's escape and released him on April 30 (LA Times, 1 May 12). A French journalist posted on Twitter on May 1 that he had spoken with Guo, who stated he was not allowed to grant interviews to foreign journalists (Twitter, 1 May 12). Guo reportedly has remained in contact with Chen following his release (WP, 3 May 12).

  • Jiang Tianyong. Beijing-based lawyer. Authorities reportedly ordered Jiang to leave Beijing on May 8 and instructed him to notify the police prior to his return. Jiang had previously reported that security personnel beat him after he attempted to visit Chen at the hospital, damaging his hearing. Authorities permitted him to seek medical treatment on May 7 for the injuries he sustained during the beating. The doctor that examined Jiang, however, reportedly refused to record the injury (NYT, 8 May 12).

  • Hu Jia. Beijing-based human rights advocate. Authorities detained Hu Jia on April 27 and held him for 24 hours for questioning regarding Chen Guangcheng's escape (LA Times, 1 May 12). Hu Jia has not posted on his Twitter account since April 30. The Commission has not observed additional news reports on his present situation.

  • Zeng Jinyan. Beijing-based human rights advocate, wife of Hu Jia. Zeng stated in a May 2 post on her Twitter account that state security guards were following her when taking her daughter to school and that she was being placed under house arrest (Twitter, 2 May 12). Zeng has subsequently posted that security personnel continue to prevent her from leaving her home, and that authorities continue to deny her requests to pursue a master's degree at a Hong Kong university (Twitter, 4 May 12, 5 May 12, 8 May 12; Daily Beast 8 May 12). Zeng Jinyan's most recent Twitter post indicated that she would be cutting herself off from all technology for ten days (Twitter, 8 May 12).

  • Liu Yanping. Associate of Beijing-based artist and human rights advocate Ai Weiwei. Authorities reportedly detained Liu when she attempted to bring a birthday cake to Chen Guangcheng's son at Chaoyang hospital on May 4. Liu reported on her Twitter account that authorities released her after 9 hours (Twitter, 4 May 12).
As noted above, the Commission has observed various reports of law enforcement authorities continuing to use "soft detention" (ruanjin)—which includes home confinement, surveillance, restricted movement, and limited contact with others—to control and intimidate Chen's family and supporters. These examples of "soft detention" not only contravene Chinese protections, but also constitute arbitrary detention under international human rights standards. According to Article 37 of the PRC Constitution, the "deprivation or restriction of citizen's freedom of the person" is prohibited. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." According to Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), no one should be subjected to arbitrary and extralegal arrests or detentions: "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law." China signed the ICCPR in 1998 and has on multiple occasions expressed its intent to ratify the instrument. Under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (list of participants), a state commits a crime of enforced disappearance when its agents arrest, detain, abduct, or otherwise deprive a person of liberty and then deny holding the person or conceal the fate or whereabouts of the person.

The Commission held a hearing on May 3, 2012, to examine recent developments relevant to Chen Guangcheng, his family, and his supporters. For additional information on Chen and China's population planning policy, see Section II-Population Planning in the CECC 2011 Annual Report. For information on Chinese official detention, harassment, and abuse of lawyers, see Section II-Criminal Justice and Section III-Access to Justice in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-05-10 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Chinese Human Rights Defender Chen Guangcheng Escapes Illegal Home Confinement

April 27, 2012

On April 27, 2012, international human rights organizations and news agencies reported that human rights defender Chen Guangcheng escaped from his home outside of Linyi city, Shandong province, on or around April 22, after being subjected to extralegal home confinement (ruanjin) for nineteen months (Human Rights Watch, 27 April 12; Amnesty International, 27 April 12; New York Times, 27 April 12; Associated Press, 27 April 12). Chen reportedly received assistance from others who brought him to a "secret location" in Beijing (Washington Post, 27 April 12). BBC (27 April 12) and New York Times, citing human rights advocate Hu Jia and Chinese state security sources, have suggested that Chen may currently be in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, but those reports could not be confirmed.

Chen Guangcheng Releases Public Appeal to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

Following his escape, Chen released an online video directed to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in which he makes the following three demands:
  • Investigate and prosecute local officials that have abused him and his family members;
  • Ensure the safety of his family members;
  • Investigate and punish corruption in general in China, and specifically in connection with his confinement, in accordance with the law.
According to extracts of the video (available via the BBC Web site), Chen stated, "Dear Premier Wen—With great difficulty, I finally escaped. All the rumours and claims on the internet about violence against me and my wife...I tell you that they are all true." In his later remarks, Chen recounted specific details of abuses he and his family suffered at the hands of "70 to 80 county public security and party cadres."

Chen's Relatives and Supporters Reportedly Detained and Harassed Following His Escape

On April 27, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay "expressed concern about the welfare of Chen and the safety and well-being of his family members," according to an April 27 press release on the OHCHR Web site. According to an April 27 statement released by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a non-governmental organization that monitors Chinese human rights developments, Chen's family members and those who have worked to secure his escape may be subject to a "round of retaliation" following Chen's "flight for freedom." The CHRD statement claims that the current status of Chen's immediate family members—including his wife, mother, and daughter, all of whom had been under illegal house arrest with him—"is unknown but likely very precarious." CHRD reports that Chinese authorities have taken Chen's older brother, Chen Guangfu, and Chen Guangfu's son, Chen Kegui, into custody. In addition, authorities reportedly detained Chen's cousin, Chen Guangcun, and Chen Guangcun's son, Chen Hua. Chen Kegui was said to have turned himself into local police officials after he sustained injuries defending himself against unknown personnel who reportedly broke into his house. However, an official Yinan county government Web site reported, via the Global Times, that he was unaccounted for, as of April 26 (Global Times, 26 April 12). Authorities reportedly detained He Peirong, the human rights advocate who reportedly assisted Chen in his escape, at her home in Nanjing, according to an April 27 Washington Post article.

Background: Chen Guangcheng

In 1996, Chen Guangcheng began defending the rights of disabled peasants and providing legal advice as a self-trained legal advocate focusing on antidiscrimination. Over the next decade, his legal advocacy was recognized in China and internationally. In 2005, Chen's rights defense work drew international news media attention to population planning abuses in Linyi city, Shandong province. Local authorities placed Chen under house arrest in September 2005 and formally arrested him in June 2006. The Yinan County People's Court first tried and sentenced Chen in August 2006 to four years and three months in prison for "intentional destruction of property" and "organizing a group of people to disturb traffic order." His defense lawyers were taken into custody on the eve of his trial. The Yinan court retried the case in November 2006 and upheld the first judgment. Chen's retrial prompted repeated criticism for its criminal procedure violations. In June 2007, Chen reportedly informed his wife and brother that he had been beaten by fellow inmates, according to a June 21 Chinese Human Rights Defenders report. In August 2007, Yuan Weijing attempted to travel to the Philippines to accept the Ramon Magsaysay award on behalf of Chen, but Chinese authorities intercepted her before leaving the country and forcibly returned her to her village, according to an August 25, 2007, Washington Post report. During the period of Chen's imprisonment, authorities also repeatedly subjected Yuan and their two children to harassment, home confinement, surveillance, and other abuses, according to reports from journalist and blogger Wang Keqin (14 March 09), Amnesty International (20 April 09), and Radio Free Asia (22 April 09), as well as the testimony of Jerome A. Cohen, Professor of Law and Co-Director , US-Asia Law Institute, New York University, at an August 3, 2010, Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing.

The Commission held a hearing on November 1, 2011, to examine the abuse and extralegal detention of Chen and his family. For additional information on Chen and China's population planning policy, see Section II—Population Planning in the CECC 2011 Annual Report. For more information on Chinese official detention, harassment, and abuse of lawyers, see Section II—Criminal Justice and Section III—Access to Justice in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2012-04-27 / English) | Posted on: 2012-05-18 more ...
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China Revises Foreign Investment Guidance Catalogue

April 10, 2012

On December 24, 2011, Chinese authorities released the revised foreign investment guidance catalogue, which came into effect on January 30, 2012, repealing the 2007 catalogue. The revisions implement the changing priorities of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party in developing the Chinese economy, and directing foreign investment in China toward certain industries to meet these priorities. The revision of the catalogue, however, does not lessen the role of the Chinese government in the economy, or do anything to combat the lack of transparency in the foreign investment approval process that all foreign investment in China must undergo.

Background of the Foreign Investment Guidance Catalogues

On December 24, 2011, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) promulgated the amended version of the Foreign Investment Industrial Guidance Catalogue (2011 Catalogue), revising the 2007 catalogue, effective January 30, 2012. This is the fifth revision to the catalogue, which was first issued in 1995. (Previous amendments were made in 1997, 2002, 2004, and 2007.) Foreign investment in the PRC has always had to undergo a government approval process; for example, Article 3 of the 1979 Joint Venture Law called for examination and approval of investments in joint ventures. According to CECC staff analysis, the 1995 catalogue was an improvement in transparency, in that it provided written, publicly available guidance as to what industries were open to foreign investment. Each version of the catalogue includes three separate categories, also called catalogues, with detailed lists of industries in which foreign investment is encouraged, restricted, or forbidden. Investment in industries not listed is permitted. The catalogue, as its name makes clear, directs foreign investment in China. It is, as an article published by Wilmer Hale in January 2012 notes, "an instrument of industrial policy." In the catalogue, descriptions of industries can be fairly general, such as the "development and manufacture of software products" (encouraged category, Section 3(21)(xii)) or specific, such as "40Gbps and above time division multiplexing equipment (TDM) . . ." (encouraged category, Section 3(21)(xxviii)).

The Role of the Catalogue in the Government Approval Process

Revision of the catalogue reflects changing Chinese government priorities for foreign investment. However, the revision does nothing to change the underlying approval process that is required for all foreign investment, or for significant changes to established (and hence already approved) foreign investment enterprises, in China. The approval process is an important tool by which the government ensures that any foreign investment in China conforms to the catalogue's classification of the relevant industry and, consequently, government policy. This approval is discretionary, and the approval process itself typically is not transparent, complicating foreign investment and providing the Chinese government opportunity to retaliate against foreign investors which have raised the ire of authorities for some reason. As a February 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal notes, "So when a U.S. company goes to China to compete with a Chinese company, it often finds itself competing instead with the state. And it is the state that has the handy advantage of approving or rejecting the foreigner's investment...." The article continues, "U.S. companies won't talk on the record about troubles in China because they fear retaliation." The US-China Business Council's 2011 China Business Environment Survey found licensing and approval barriers to be the second most serious issue its member companies face in China, noting the linkage between this issue and transparency and national treatment, which are core WTO principles. The approval process is governed by a series of rules, such as the 2009 Circular on Further Improving the Examination and Approval of Foreign Investment (English version, subscription required, and Chinese version), the 2010 Circular on Issues Relevant to Delegation of the Examination and Approval Authority to Lower Levels (English version, subscription required, and Chinese version), and the 2011 Circular on Issues in the Administration of Foreign Investment.

The 2011 Catalogue and the 12th Five-Year Plan

The catalogue is the culmination of a series of policy documents, and outlines those industries China's state planners believe would benefit from foreign investment, those which state planners believe should be reserved for Chinese companies or shut down entirely, and those in which foreign investment is allowed, but subject to certain qualifications. The Chinese government's formulation of economic and foreign investment policies evolves over a fairly long period of time. On April 6, 2010, the State Council issued Several Opinions on Further Improving the Work of Using Foreign Investment (in Chinese), calling for revision of the catalogue to encourage foreign investment in "high-end manufacturing, high and new technology, modern services, alternative energy, and energy conservation and environmental protection sectors." These sectors overlap with the so-called "strategic emerging industries," championed in the 2010 State Council Decision Concerning Speeding up the Fostering of Strategic Emerging Industries, and subsequently promoted in the 12th Five-Year Plan, passed in March 2011. The revisions contained in the 2011 Catalogue highlight current Chinese government priorities. According to Wilmer Hale's analysis, the 2011 Catalogue emphasizes three key areas: (1) transforming China's manufacturing from traditional to high-end, (2) supporting development of the strategic emerging industries, and (3) promoting a modern services sector. Several additions to the encouraged section of the 2011 Catalogue cover the strategic emerging industries, as highlighted in Chapter 10 of the 12th Five-Year Plan, namely energy conservation and environmental protection, next generation IT, biological industry, high-end equipment manufacturing, new energies, new materials, and new energy cars. Examples include production of energy saving, environmentally friendly building materials (Section 3(14)(i)) and certain pollution control equipment (Sections 3(18)(lvi–lvix)). New services sectors in the encouraged category of the 2011 Catalogue include, for example, venture capital services (Section 7(4)) and intellectual property services (Section 7(5)). Chapter 15 of the 12th Five-Year Plan calls for the development of the services trade, including financial services (Chapter 15, Section 1) and intellectual property protection services (Chapter 15, Section 3).

Conclusion

Overall, this revision of the catalogue tweaks the previous version. Like earlier versions, it is premised upon the important role of the Chinese government in directing economic development and ensuring that foreign investment furthers government goals. The revisions do nothing to change the investment structure or regime. Rather, the revisions merely reflect policymakers' decisions as to where foreign investment should be allowed to ensure that foreign investment serves to assist Chinese development as directed in the 12th Five-Year Plan, while ensuring government control over foreign investors and their investments.

For additional information on the regulation of foreign investment in China, see pages 177 to 178 of the Commission's 2011 Annual Report.



Source: -See Summary (2012-03-29 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Workers Demonstrate in Various Industries and Locations in Late 2011 and Early 2012

April 27, 2012

From late fall 2011 through early 2012, Chinese and international media outlets reported on a series of strikes and demonstrations in at least 10 provincial-level areas in China that some international news sources and labor rights advocates characterized as the most significant series of worker actions since the summer of 2010. While the exact number of worker actions that occurred during this period is difficult to determine, they involved a variety of industries, and recent statements from the Chinese government reflected concern over social strife as a result of labor disputes. In some cases, workers demonstrated in response to cost-cutting measures that managers took, reportedly designed to pass the costs of slowed macroeconomic activity on to workers. In some of those cases, workers said their motivations for demonstrating included the failure of management to consult with them in the implementation of cost-cutting measures. In other cases, workers reportedly demonstrated in response to wider systemic abuses and other labor-related grievances, such as excessive overtime demands and abusive management practices. Management and local officials in some cases reportedly used force against or detained demonstrating workers while seeking to put a stop to these disputes.

Demonstrations Emerge in Late 2011 and Early 2012

Chinese and international labor rights advocates, academics, and journalists reported on a series of labor demonstrations from early November 2011 through early 2012 that some international news sources and labor rights advocates characterized as the most significant since a series of labor demonstrations in the summer of 2010 (see, e.g., Time, 25 November 11; Agence France-Presse, via Google, 26 November 11). The exact number of demonstrations that occurred during this period is difficult to determine, but the demonstrations reportedly involved a number of industries—including manufacturing, transportation, construction, and retail—and statements released by the Chinese government during this period indicated a heightened sense of anxiety over increased social strife as a result of labor disputes. For example, in a February 15, 2012, statement, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) described "harmonious labor relations" as an "urgent and important political duty that we must grasp." The MOHRSS also emphasized the importance of reducing "contradictions and disputes" in the area of labor relations and solving the "weak" and "insufficient capacity" of grassroots labor relations work.

Cost-Cutting Measures Motivate Some Recent Labor Demonstrations

Chinese and international media reports indicated that workers in at least 10 provincial-level areas, ranging from China's east coast to Sichuan province, in western China, launched demonstrations after managers took cost-cutting measures reportedly designed to curtail the effects of decreased macroeconomic activity. China's manufacturing and export sectors recorded a significant decline in activity in the end of 2011 and early 2012 (Xinhua, 1 December 11 and 10 February 12), and weakened export and manufacturing activity combined with rising labor and material costs reportedly led many manufacturers and retailers to reduce expenses in an attempt to supplement declining profits. In a number of the cases reported on during this period, managers passed the costs of these reductions on to workers in the form of reduced wages and cutbacks on overtime, bonuses, and benefits (see, e.g., Financial Times, 23 November 11, subscription required; Agence France-Presse, via Google News, 26 November 11). In some cases, workers initiated large-scale protests in response to these reductions, which also exacerbated longstanding labor concerns related to wage levels, unpaid wages and compensation, working conditions, and labor-management relations. For instance, workers protested over announced reductions in year-end bonuses at the Alei Siti auto parts factory in Guangzhou city, Guangdong province, in late December 2011, according a December 28, 2011, China Labor Watch (CLW) article and a January 3, 2012, Radio Free Asia article. Factory management claimed reductions in year-end bonuses were the result of a decline in production orders, an assertion disputed by workers. CLW stated that, prior to the reductions, workers had longstanding grievances related to long workdays and a demanding work schedule, which may have been aggravated by the bonus reductions and contributed to the emergence of the strike.

Workers Cite Lack of Consultations in Some Cases

In some cases, workers reportedly organized demonstrations in response to management's failure to engage in consultations with workers prior to company mergers, wage adjustments, or manufacturing relocation. For instance, "several thousand" workers reportedly took their annual leave simultaneously on November 14, 2011, in a coordinated action at PepsiCo bottling plants in at least five Chinese cities in reaction to Taiwan-owned food and beverage company Tingyi Holding Corporation's takeover of PepsiCo (Economic Observer, 14 November 11; Xinhua, 15 November 11; China Labour Bulletin, 15 November 11). Workers claimed PepsiCo failed to consult with them prior to the takeover and "demanded assurances that pay, benefits, and working conditions would not be eroded as a result of the takeover." Management reportedly planned to terminate worker contracts and ask workers to negotiate new contracts, and workers reportedly called on PepsiCo to pay compensation in the event that PepsiCo terminated the original contracts. In another case, approximately 7,000 workers reportedly protested at the Yue Cheng shoe factory in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, in November 2011 after management dismissed 18 mid-level managers and suspended overtime and performance bonuses without negotiating with workers in advance (China Labour Bulletin, 17 November 11; CLW, 18 November 11; Xinhua, 19 November, 2011). Factory management claimed these actions were the result of a significant decrease in production orders, but one manager alleged they were motivated by plans to relocate manufacturing facilities to Jiangxi province.

Variety of Grievances Motivate Some Recent Labor Demonstrations

Not all labor demonstrations during this period, however, emerged in opposition to the implementation of cost-cutting measures. Chinese and international media outlets also reported on demonstrations surfacing in response to systemic abuses and other labor-related grievances. Workers at demonstrations in a wide variety of locations reportedly protested low wage levels, abusive treatment by management, and unreasonable hour and overtime demands (see previously documented cases in the CECC 2011 Annual Report, p. 77). For instance, more than 400 workers at the Top Form Underwear Co., Ltd. factory in Shenzhen municipality, Guangdong province, reportedly demonstrated in late November 2011 over low wages, withholding of overtime wages, and unachievable production quotas, according to articles from Xinhua and CLW on November 22, 2011. Both reports stated factory management had previously been verbally abusive towards workers, as well.

Examples of Recent Labor Demonstrations

Recent cases of labor demonstrations from early November 2011 through early 2012 include the following:
  • On November 22, 2011, 1,000 workers reportedly went on strike at a Jingmo Electronics Corporation factory in Shenzhen in response to overtime demands by management and the decision to require mandatory overnight overtime shifts. Workers reportedly also had grievances concerning unsafe working conditions, mass layoffs of older workers, a lack of benefits, and verbal abuse by managers. (CLW, 23 November 11)

  • On November 28, 2011, taxi drivers in Liaocheng city, Shandong province, protested in response to government-instituted fare adjustments and problems relating to illegal taxi operations. Authorities reportedly forcibly took into custody several taxi drivers who were planning to petition, questioned them, and released them six hours later, after pressuring them to sign a pledge not to "cause trouble." (People's Daily, 12 December 11)

  • In late November 2011, more than 100 retail workers blockaded a British-owned Tesco in Jinhua city, Zhejiang province, in a protest over wages and layoff compensation terms. Workers at Tesco reportedly became concerned that the store would shut down earlier than previously stated and asked management to "pay them the overtime they were due and terminate their contracts so they would receive wages immediately." (Guardian, 30 November 11)

  • Starting on November 28, 2011, workers at Singapore-owned Hi-P International electronics factory in Shanghai went on strike over layoffs due to the company's decision to relocate manufacturing to Suzhou municipality, Jiangsu province. Workers demanded compensation for layoffs and accused the factory of violating labor standards including long workdays and unreasonable overtime demands. Workers claimed that public security officials beat some of them earlier during the protests. (Associated Press, via Huffington Post, 2 December 11; Reuters, 2 December 11; related CECC analysis)

  • In early January 2012, hundreds of migrant construction workers gathered at a highway construction firm's office in Hubei province, demanding 200 million yuan (approximately US$32 million) in unpaid wages. (China Internet Information Center, via Shanghai Daily, 21 January 12)

For more information on conditions for workers in China, see Section II—Worker Rights in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-03-22 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Amended Occupational Disease Law Seeks To Improve Protections for Workers as Occupational Health Continues To Face Risks

April 5, 2012

On December 31, 2011, the National People's Congress Standing Committee passed an amendment to the PRC Law on Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases, effective the same day. The amended law contains provisions that could improve worker rights by making it easier for workers to obtain the certification they need in order to receive compensation for work-related diseases. It also requires the government and employers to take general measures to protect the health of workers, including dedicating sufficient funding to the prevention and control of occupational diseases. According to recent reports from Chinese and international media organizations, factors that continue to pose risks to workers' health include inadequate government supervision, illegal actions by employers, a lack of transparency in diagnosing and certifying diseases, and a lack of knowledge among workers about health in the workplace. In addition, officially reported cases of occupational disease have grown at increasing rates in recent years, especially in the mining sector.

Amended Law Contains Provisions That Could Help Workers Receive Compensation

The amended PRC Law on Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases ("Occupational Disease Law," via the Central People's Government Web site) contains provisions that, if implemented as stipulated, could improve worker rights by making it easier for workers to obtain the certification they need in order to receive compensation for occupational diseases. Under the PRC Social Insurance Law (via the China Law Info Web site), which went into effect on July 1, 2011, workers are entitled to compensation for occupational diseases if they obtain certification that a disease is work-related (Art. 36). According to reports from Caixin (30 June 11) and China Labour Bulletin (28 January 12), however, workers in some cases have experienced difficulty obtaining a diagnosis or proving a working relationship with their employer, steps that are required for the certification process under the amended Regulations on Occupational Injury Insurance (Art. 18, via the Central People's Government Web site). New measures in the amended law that could help workers overcome such obstacles include the following:
  • Organizations that diagnose occupational diseases may not refuse workers' requests for diagnoses (Art. 44).

  • Workers who cannot prove a working relationship with their employer may apply to local civil affairs bureaus for medical assistance (Art. 62).

  • Employers must submit information about workers' work history and history of contact with health hazards in the workplace, information that is necessary for diagnosing occupational diseases (Art. 48).

  • Organizations that diagnose occupational diseases may inspect workplaces in order to collect information about occupational health hazards, or those organizations may propose that the government conduct inspections of workplaces. Employers may not refuse or interfere with those inspections (Art. 48).
The amended Occupational Disease Law also places additional, general obligations on the government and employers to ensure that they protect the health of workers. Examples include the following:
  • The amended law requires employers to invest sufficient funds to ensure the prevention and control of occupational diseases. The amended law prohibits employers from misusing those funds, and it places liability on the employer if insufficient investment in occupational health causes a "negative result" (Art. 22).

  • The amended law requires employers and healthcare organizations to report cases and suspected cases of occupational disease in a timely manner to the government, and it requires the government to handle the cases according to the law (Art. 51).

  • The amended law increases the maximum penalty for employers who cause harm to workers' health by not following the amended Occupational Disease Law from 300,000 yuan (approximately US$47,130) to 500,000 yuan (approximately US$78,550) (Art. 78).
Recent Reports Indicate Continuing Risks to Workers' Health

Recent reports from Chinese and international media sources indicate that various factors continue to put workers' health at risk, including inadequate government supervision, illegal actions by employers, a lack of transparency in diagnosing and certifying diseases, and a lack of knowledge among workers about health in the workplace. For example, in February 2012, Chinese and international media reported that the use of toxic glue and inadequate ventilation in unlicensed factories operating outside of government supervision in Guangzhou municipality, Guangdong province, caused workers to contract dichloroethane poisoning (BBC, 15 February 12; Stock City, 21 February 12). Four of the reported cases were fatal. Zhang Haichao, a former coal miner, worker rights advocate, and survivor of pneumoconiosis—which is caused by the inhalation of coal dust or other irritants and has no known treatment (National Institute of Health, 10 June 11)—reportedly said that officials and employers continue to handle some occupational disease cases in an ad hoc way, rather than "according to the normal [legal] procedure" (Caixin, 5 March 12, via QQ, in Chinese; 13 March 12, in English). A lack of transparency in the process of diagnosis and certification reportedly continues to place workers' health at risk. The March 5, 2012, Caixin article reported that hospitals that perform physical examinations on workers often report the results only to employers and not to workers themselves, in order to avoid "blaming" the hospitals' "major clients," i.e., the employers. A lack of knowledge about health risks in the workplace reportedly continues to contribute to occupational disease, as well. According to the Workers' Daily (9 February 12, via Xinhua), a spokesperson for the Chengdu Association for Science and Technology News said that workers' ignorance about steps they could take to protect their health in the workplace caused many of the cases of pneumoconiosis the organization had observed.

Officially Reported Cases of Occupational Disease Increase in Recent Years

Officially reported cases of occupational disease have increased dramatically in recent years, especially in the coal mining sector (see table below). Cases of occupational disease reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH) increased by 91 percent over the period 2007–2010 (the Commission has not observed official data after 2010), and the rate of increase grew in 2009 and again in 2010. It is difficult to know the actual number of cases in China, but the MOH noted in its National Occupational Illness Prevention and Control Plan (2009–2015) that "experts estimate that the actual number of occupational diseases in China every year is larger than the reported number" (24 May 09, via the Central People's Government Web site). China's coal mining sector has contributed to a particularly large and increasing percentage of cases of occupational disease over the past several years, exceeding half of all cases reported by the MOH in 2010.


Year

New Cases of Occupational Disease
(Percent Increase Over Previous Year)

Percent of Total Cases of Occupational Disease
From the Coal Mining Sector

2010*

27,240
(50.26%)

57.75%

2009*

18,128
(31.90%)

41.38%

2008**

13,744
(-3.86%)

39.81%

2007*

14,296
(CECC has not observed relevant data)

45.84%


*MOH data for this year does not include the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
**MOH data for this year does not include the Tibetan Autonomous Region or Beijing municipality.

For more information on conditions for workers in China, see Section II—Worker Rights in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-03-12 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Chinese Authorities Implement Real Name Microblog Regulations

May 10, 2012

Beginning March 16, authorities in Beijing and Guangdong province reportedly began enforcing a requirement that microblog users must register their accounts with their accounts with their real name and identity information before being allowed to post or re-post content online. The announcement that authorities would begin enforcing this requirement follows the December 2011 issuance of regulations introducing this registration requirement in several cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and the Guangdong cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Given that Beijing and Guangdong are home to a number of China's major microblogging service providers, the real name registration requirement could affect large numbers of microblog users in China. Authorities have expressed concern over "online rumors," and the recent measures follow a spate of high-profile incidents in recent years in which large numbers of Chinese microbloggers took to their blogs to openly criticize the government.

On March 16, 2012, authorities in Beijing municipality and Guangdong province reportedly began enforcing an earlier-issued requirement that microblog users register their accounts with microblog service providers using their real name and identity information, according to a March 12, 2012, China News article. According to the report, microblog users who fail to comply with the real-name requirement by March 16 will not be able to post or re-post content online. The real name requirement is reportedly tied to earlier pilot microblog regulations introducing this requirement in December 2011. The Commission's research found pilot regulations issued by Beijing in mid-December 2011 and reports of similar regulations issued by Shanghai, Tianjin, and Guangzhou municipalities and Shenzhen special economic zone in late December 2011. While Chinese media reports indicate that the March 16 real-name registration deadline applied to Beijing and Guangdong province, which includes Guangzhou municipality and Shenzhen special economic zone, it is unclear whether the other localities also began enforcing the requirement on that date (see, e.g., South China Online, 7 February 12; Xinhua, 7 February 12; Beijing Daily, 8 February 12; Dahe Daily, 9 February 12). Enforcement of the real name requirement will impact a number of China's major microblog service providers including Sina, Sohu, Tecent, and Netease, all headquartered in Beijing and Guangdong province. Given that these four service providers in particular make-up the majority of microblog users in China, the impact of real name registration could affect a large number of microblog users in China (Resonance China, 30 March 11; Forbes, 17 March 11).

The number of microblogs users in China has grown rapidly over the last two years. According to the official China Internet Network Information Center's 2011 report on Internet use in China, there were 250 million microblog users out of 510 million total Internet users in China by the end of 2011, representing a 296 percent increase in microblog use since 2010. Chief Executive Officer Charles Chao of Sina Corp. announced in February 2012 that Sina microblog users rose to 300 million in the beginning of the year, according to a February 28, 2012, Bloomberg article.

Beijing Pilot Regulations

The Beijing regulations were issued on December 16, 2011, in a pilot program titled "Several Provisions on The Development and Management of Microblogs in Beijing Municipality" (Beijing People’s Municipal Government, 17 December 11). According to a December 16, 2011, Xinhua article, an official with the Beijing Internet Information Office said, "the new rules are aimed at protecting web users' interests and improving credibility on the web." The official reportedly stated that the regulations would make microblogging service providers more trustworthy and provide higher quality service.

The Beijing provisions are the only pilot regulations publicly available and reportedly were the model for similar regulations issued in Tianjin, Shanghai, and Guangzhou municipalities and Shenzhen special economic zone in late December 2011 (BBC Chinese, 22 December 11). The regulations address the following issues and requirements, among others:

Microblog Service Provider Requirements. Beijing-based service providers are required to:
    ◦ Apply for verification and approval from the BIIO before applying for a telecommunications business license. (Article 6)
    ◦ Prevent the creation of fake microblog accounts. (Article 7(7))
    ◦ Restrict users from transmitting harmful information and promptly report to public security authorities any activity that “violates security management” or is “suspected to be criminal.” (Article 7(8))
    ◦ Establish a mechanism to verify information content and supervise the production, reproduction, publication, and transmission of microblog content. (Article 8)

Microblog Registrant Requirements. Individuals and organizations must:
    ◦ Register microblog accounts using authentic identity information. (Article 9)
    ◦ Refrain from registering under the false or replicated identity of a resident, business, or organization.

Microblog Content Requirements. Organizations and Individuals may not illegally use microblogs to produce, reproduce, publish, or transmit content that:
    ◦ Endangers national security, divulges state secrets, subverts state power, harms national honor or interests, or incites ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination. (Article10(2)-10(4))
    ◦ Violates state religious policy or propagates "cult or feudal superstitions." (Article 10(5))
    ◦ Spreads rumors, disturbs public order, or undermines social stability (Article 10(6))
    ◦ Incites illegal gatherings, parades, demonstrations, or gathers a mob to disturb public order. (Article 10(9))
    ◦ Discusses activities in the name of illegal civic organizations. (Article 10(10))

Possible Expansion of Pilot Microblog Regulations on a National Level

Chinese authorities have expressed interest in expanding microblog regulations to other parts of the country following the introduction of the pilot programs in December 2011. According to a January 19, 2012, article in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, Director Wang Chen of the State Internet Information Office, an administrative agency established in May 2011 that is responsible for regulation and oversight of Internet content and services providers, announced tentative plans for the expansion of microblog regulations. Chen indicated that previously established pilot programs would serve as a template for the future expansion of regulations once authorities had acquired adequate experience.

Context and Official Reasoning for Pilot Regulations

The implementation of pilot microblog regulations aimed at tightening control over microblogging services come amid a spate of high-profile incidents in recent years which triggered substantial online discussion and criticism of issues such as official corruption and lack of government transparency. These examples include the Gansu school bus crash (New York Times, 18 November 11), the hit and run case of a two-year-old in Guangdong province (CNN, 21 October 11), the Wenzhou train collision (The Guardian, 25 July 11), and the "My Father Is Li Gang" incident (People’s Daily, 27 October 10). In these cases, online discussion of social problems and inequalities led to widespread criticism of official corruption and of government transparency and responsiveness.

In late 2011, Chinese officials reportedly publicly discussed the need for increased control over microblog service providers and users in light of growing concern over the spread of online rumors(wangluo yaoyan). In an August 2011 visit to the headquarters of Sina Corp. in Beijing, which operates one of the most popular microblogging services in China, Politburo Member Liu Qi said Internet companies "should step up the application and management of new technology, and absolutely put an end to fake and misleading information"(Wall Street Journal, 24 August 11). Subsequent editorials in state-run newspapers called for tougher measures on online content(see, e.g., Xinhua, 28 November 11; Xinhua, 30 November 11; Xinhua, 7 December 11). On October 10, 2011, a Central Committee decision circulated at the Sixth Plenary Meeting of the 17th CCP Central Committee advocated for “strengthening the guidance and management of social media and real-time communication tools”(China Central Government, 25 October 11).

Freedom of Expression and Information Concerns

Chinese academics and Internet industry analysts have expressed concern that the push to tighten controls over microblogging services—particularly with the implementation of real-name registration—could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression by causing microblog users to self-censor out of fear of government detention and harassment(see, e.g., Global Times, 15 March 12; Xinhua, 13 March 12). A December 20, 2011, Global Times article speculated that implementation of the real-name registration system would likely lead the majority of microblog users to "keep silent due to fear of being charged for what they said, especially if exposing the wrongdoing in society." The Chinese government has consistently censored freedom of expression in a manner that does not comply with international human rights standards, including peaceful expression critical of the government (see CECC 2011 Annual Report, 57-62). Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed and expressed an intent to ratify, guarantees the right "to seek, receive and impart" information "of all kinds, regardless of frontiers," through any media of one's choice. Article 19 permits restrictions on this freedom, provided they are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect the rights or reputations of others, national security, public order, or public health or morals. Chinese government practices exceed these allowances, however, because their extensive censorship of the Internet is not limited to the removal of content such as pornography, spam, or content deemed to violate intellectual property rights, but also political and religious content the government and Communist Party deem to be politically sensitive.

For more information on Freedom of Expression and the Internet, see Section III—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-03-07 / English) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Zhu Yufu Case: Application of Inciting Subversion Provisions Fell Short of International Standards

March 23, 2012

In February 2012, a Chinese court sentenced long-time democracy activist Zhu Yufu to seven years in prison on the charge of "inciting subversion of state power." The court's judgment claimed that his writings and activities "harmed national security" and that in early 2011, amid Internet calls for "Jasmine" protest rallies in China, Zhu sent a poem and information to a number of people via the Internet "inciting" them to commit subversion. The court's judgment, however, did not explain how Zhu "harmed national security" or indicate the potential or real subversive effect of his words. Chinese criminal provisions regarding inciting subversion are vague, and, as in Zhu's case, their application falls short of international standards because officials have used them to punish peaceful political expression and activity.

Detailed Charges Against Zhu Yufu
On February 10, 2012, the Hangzhou Municipal Intermediate People's Court sentenced democracy advocate Zhu Yufu to seven years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power," a crime under Article 105, Paragraph 2, of China's Criminal Law, according to the court's judgment released by ChinaAid (10 February 12). The court also sentenced Zhu to three years' deprivation of political rights upon completion of his sentence. The court declared Zhu a recidivist, and based on Articles 65 and 66 of the Criminal Law, gave him a heavier punishment. In the court's judgment, authorities cited several of Zhu's writings and his activities associated with an "illegal" democracy party as evidence of "incitement," as noted below.

  • Authorities asserted that beginning in 1998, Zhu engaged in activities associated with the "illegal" China Democracy Party (CDP) that "harmed national security," but did not assert that those activities disrupted public order or advocated or incited violence. The court's judgment did not provide details about those activities or explain how they endangered national security.

  • Authorities cited as evidence Zhu's 2010 and 2011 fundraising activities on behalf of Chinese democracy activists and his statements explaining those activities, including one statement titled "2010 New Year Fundraising Brief Explanation." The court's judgment claims that Zhu raised funds on behalf of "criminals that had harmed national security and their families," and that Zhu's explanatory statements posted overseas "incited hostility towards state power and the socialist system in our country." The court's judgment, however, did not indicate who benefited from the fundraising activities or provide details of their "criminal" acts, nor did it provide evidence of the hostility caused by Zhu's statement.

  • Authorities noted 21 articles, 8 recordings, and 4 videos dated from September 2009 onward and posted on overseas Web sites in which Zhu "fabricated malicious rumors and slandered our country's state power, inciting people to change (the regime) and seize political power." The court highlighted in its judgment a few of Zhu's statements that reportedly were recorded and transcribed by overseas organizations, including, "[v]icious political power is the common enemy of the Chinese people. This must change, [we] must give back to the people the power forcibly seized from them" (Sound of Hope, via Aboluo Net on January 23, 2011). Authorities did not indicate how this statement incited subversion. Zhu's statements apparently referred to limiting government authority because he followed the statements noted above with the sentence "[we] cannot use public authority to infringe upon an individual's right to religious freedom or infringe upon an individual's basic political rights."

  • Authorities asserted that on February 18 and March 2, 2011, Zhu Yufu utilized the Internet to send information to more than 50 people, encouraging them to invite family and friends to gather illegally in the city square to "initiate a Jasmine Revolution similar to that in Tunisia" and "incite people to subvert state power in our country." Authorities noted that among the three documents Zhu sent out on February 18 to a number of people was a poem, entitled "It's Time," which included the line "[i]t's time to head to the Square and make your choice." (See this January 31, 2012, Human Rights in China statement that includes an English translation of the poem by A. E. Clark.)
Arguments by Zhu's Defense Team
According to the court's judgment, Zhu Yufu's defense lawyers argued that Zhu was not guilty. They asserted that Zhu did not incite subversion or engage in activities harmful to state security as a member of the CDP. They argued that his fundraising activities were charitable and not harmful to state security. The defense asserted that the articles Zhu wrote, which were posted overseas, expressed Zhu's dissatisfaction with the government, but did not seek to change the county's socialist system or to incite people to subvert the government. According to the court's judgment, authorities rejected each of the defense's arguments.

Application of Inciting Subversion Provisions Does Not Reach International Standards
In Zhu Yufu's case, Chinese authorities' application of legal provisions regarding "inciting subversion" fell short of international standards, and available information suggests authorities sentenced Zhu to stifle political expression. Both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 29) require that any restriction on free expression be limited to that which is "necessary" to protect national security, public order, or public health or morals. According to a 2009 resolution of the Human Rights Council, governments should refrain from imposing restrictions on "[d]iscussion of government policies and political debate; reporting on human rights, government activities and corruption in government; engaging in election campaigns, peaceful demonstrations or political activities,…" (Item 5(p)(i), 12 October 09, A/HRC/RES/12/16).

Vague Statutes Regarding Inciting Subversion
Authorities do not clearly delineate constitutionally protected speech from subversive speech in relevant laws, which makes them subject to abuse. The court's judgment noted that the PRC Constitution grants citizens freedom of speech and of the press (Article 35). At the same time, it noted the PRC Constitution places limits on those freedoms if they "infringe upon the interests of the state, of society and of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens" (Article 51). Neither the Constitution nor the court's judgment indicates the line between acceptable and prohibited speech. The court's judgment argued that Zhu's speech itself "seriously harmed the interests of the country and society." The court's judgment did not, however, cite evidence of harm or describe the potential or real subversive effect of Zhu's actions or writings. Zhu's case is not unusual. In general, the provision in China's Criminal Law regarding inciting subversion is vague, which contributes to abuse by authorities. A 2008 report by the human rights organization, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, noted that in China, "speech in and of itself is interpreted as constituting incitement of subversion" and that "anything from calling for an end to one-party rule to criticizing corruption has been construed as 'inciting subversion of state power.'" The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression emphasized in a 2011 report to the UN General Assembly that it "remains concerned by the vague formulation of some domestic legal provisions that prohibit incitement. These include 'inciting subversion of state power'.... Such vague and broad terms clearly do not meet the criterion of legal clarity" (Item 29, 10 August 11, A/66/290).

Background on Zhu's Case
Public security bureau officials in Hangzhou municipality, Zhejiang province, detained Zhu on March 5, 2011, and formally arrested him on April 11 on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power," according to the court's judgment. On August 8, 2011, the Hangzhou municipal procuratorate sent an indictment to the municipality's intermediate people's court. On October 25, the court cited the need for additional evidence and returned the case for further investigation. On December 22, procuratorate authorities again submitted an indictment to the court. Zhu's trial opened on January 31, 2012, and court authorities sentenced him the next month, also according to the court's judgment. Zhu has filed an appeal of his sentence (ChinaAid Association, 14 February 12). Previously in 1999, authorities sentenced him to seven years' imprisonment for founding a branch of the CDP and for publishing a politically sensitive magazine (Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), 31 January 12 and the New York Times, 17 January 12). Upon his release, Zhu spoke publicly about torture he allegedly suffered in prison. Authorities also imprisoned him for two years in 2007 on charges of "obstructing official business," because he confronted authorities questioning his son, allegedly with force, according to the CHRD article.

For more information about cases in which Chinese authorities have sentenced citizens for "inciting subversion of state power," see the CECC analysis on Liu Xiaobo, Tan Zuoren, Chen Wei, and the 2011 Crackdown here and here. Also see Section II—Freedom of Expression and Criminal Justice, and Section III—Institutions of Democratic Governance in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-03-06 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Chinese Authorities Reportedly Repatriate North Korean Refugees

April 17, 2012

In early March 2012, South Korean news outlets and CNN reported claims that Chinese authorities had repatriated approximately 30 North Korean refugees who were detained in northeast China. The reported repatriations occurred during the 100-day mourning period for the late Kim Jong-il, a time during which his son and new leader of North Korea vowed to "exterminate three generations" of any family with a member caught defecting. The fate of those repatriated or their family members is not known. China's policy of considering all North Korean refugees economic migrants violates international law to which China itself is subject and which prohibits China from returning refugees who face the risk of political persecution. The case of the North Korean refugees prompted international concern over China's repatriation policy, including from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Chinese Authorities Reportedly Repatriate North Korean Refugees Detained in China

In February 2012, international news media organizations reported on China's detention of dozens of North Korean refugees held in Liaoning and Jilin provinces, as international human rights advocates appealed to the Chinese government not to forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) (See Chosun Ilbo, 14 February 12; Korea Herald, 14 February 12; Los Angeles Times, 14 February 12). According to the February 14 Korea Herald article, at least two dozen North Korean refugees allegedly faced forced repatriation after Chinese authorities detained them in early February. South Korean media outlets have reported that family members may face execution if the refugees are forcibly returned to the DPRK (see Korea Times, 20 February 12; Yonhap News Agency, 17 February 12; Arirang News, 20 February 12; KBS World Radio, 23 February 12). According to a February 22 Korea Herald editorial, in January, Kim Jong-un, the "supreme leader" of the DPRK, reportedly threatened to "exterminate three generations" of any family with a member caught defecting during the 100-day mourning period for the late Kim Jong-il. Kim Jong-il reportedly died on December 17, 2011, and the 100-day mourning period lasted until the last week of March 2012 (AP, via the Boston Globe, 24 March 12).

In early March 2012, Yonhap News Agency and CNN reported that Chinese officials forcibly repatriated the detained North Korean refugees. According to a March 9, CNN article, a South Korean official claimed that Chinese authorities may have repatriated approximately 30 North Korean refugees. A March 10 Yonhap News Agency article, reaffirmed this claim, but also noted there had been no "government-level confirmation" of the repatriations. At the time of this writing, the fate of those reportedly repatriated or their family members was not available.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Claims North Koreans "Illegal" Economic Migrants

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman Hong Lei reiterated at a February 22, 2012, press conference the Chinese government's longstanding view that North Koreans entering China without documents "are not refugees," but rather "illegal migrants" who "come to China because of economic reasons," according to a transcript of his remarks (in Chinese) on the MFA Web site. Hong did not explain how China had determined that the North Koreans in question were economic migrants or address concerns that they faced political punishment upon return. (Hong's discussion of North Korean refugees was also apparently omitted from the MFA's English transcript of the press conference.) The spokesman said, "In accordance with domestic law, international law and humanitarian principles, China has consistently handled the illegal immigration of Koreans problem, prudently and properly, to conform with the interests of all parties and with international practice." According to a February 29, 2012, Caijing article, Hong Lei said, "There is no good reason to define them as refugees."

The Chinese government's position on repatriating North Korean refugees contravenes China's obligations under international law. As noted in the CECC 2011 Annual Report, the Chinese government continues to detain and forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees to the DPRK, despite substantial evidence that such refugees face persecution upon return. This policy contravenes obligations under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) and its 1967 Protocol (1967 Protocol) (available at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Web site here), to which China has acceded. Article 33 (1) of the 1951 Convention states, "No Contracting State shall expel or return ('refouler') a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." The Chinese government bases its policy of repatriating North Koreans on a 1961 treaty with the DPRK and a subsequent 1986 border protocol. (For more information see "China: Background Paper on the Situation of North Koreans in China," 1 January 05, a WRITENET report commissioned by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Protection Information Section. WRITENET is a network of researchers and writers who write on human rights, forced migration, and ethnic and political conflict.)

In addition, the North Korean government's imprisonment and torture of repatriated North Koreans renders North Koreans in China refugees "sur place," or those who fear persecution upon return to their country of origin. (See Articles 94 to 96 of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.) According to a March 23, 2006, statement to media by Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at the conclusion of his mission to China, the Commissioner explained refugees "sur place" and acknowledged that he had discussed the issue with Chinese officials:
    "What that means is that in some circumstances, some of these people might become refugees, and for different reasons. The most frequent reason—when we deal with this problem not only here but all over the world—is when there is a risk of deportation back to their countries of origin and this is associated with the risk of persecution in those areas covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention. In those situations, these people become what are called 'refugees sur-place.' And they become people in need of protection that will, of course, justify our intervention. That was obviously at the very core of our discussions."

International Concern Over China's Policy of Repatriating North Koreans to the DPRK

The recent case involving the North Korean refugees in China prompted international expressions of concern over China’s treatment of these refugees in particular, as well as China’s repatriation policy in general.
  • On February 24, 2012, UNHCR urged all parties concerned to find a viable humanitarian solution in the case of a group of North Koreans who were arrested in China in early February, according to a statement released by UNHCR.
  • On February 27, 2012, South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Bong-hyun delivered a keynote speech at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Geneva, in which he "implicitly urged the Chinese government to honor its international obligations" not to repatriate refugees if they face persecution (Chosun Ilbo, 29 February 12). (For a video of the keynote speech, see the UNHRC Web site here.)
  • On March 9, 2012, in a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed U.S. opposition to the repatriation of North Korean refugees: "We urge every country to act according to international obligations. ... We believe that refugees should not be repatriated and subjected once again to the dangers that they fled from. The treatment of North Korean refugees is an issue on which we have ongoing engagement with our partners, both in Korea and in China. We had Ambassador Davies raise our concerns about the North Korean refugees detained in China with senior Chinese officials when he was last in China in February." (U.S. Department of State Web site.)
  • On March 12, 2012, Ambassador Robert King, the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, shared concerns of Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, over the North Korean refugees: "[W]e share the Special Rapporteur's deep concerns about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We urge the DPRK to end the punishment and imprisonment of North Koreans who have sought asylum abroad as well as their family members." (U.S. Department of State Web site.)
  • On March 12, 2012, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK expressed concern at a session of the UN Human Rights Council over the safety and protection of "asylum-seekers" and called on all states "to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement" and their obligation of providing international protection to asylum-seekers (Yonhap News Agency, 13 March 12). (For the video, see the UNHRC Web site here.)
  • On March 14, 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told "related-countries" that he would like to see the issue of forced repatriation resolved through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Chosun Ilbo, 16 March 12). Ban said that he had conveyed his concerns to member states and "sought cooperation as best I can in my position."

On March 5, 2012, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) held an emergency hearing to review the issue of North Korean refugees at which members urged Chinese officials to desist in forcibly repatriating detained North Koreans to the DPRK. The Commission hearing addressed reported detentions of North Korean refugees and the factors driving North Koreans to flee to China. Witnesses also addressed the legality of China's forced repatriation of North Koreans and relevant humanitarian concerns. (Online transcripts of statements and video of the hearing are available here.)

For more information on the treatment of North Korean refugees in China, see Section II—North Korean Refugees in China in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-02-22 / English) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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The U.S. and China Hold the 22nd Meeting of the JCCT in Chengdu, China, on November 20 to 21, 2011

March 6, 2012

On November 20 to 21, 2011, the United States and China held the 22nd meeting of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). The meeting addressed areas of concern in the development of rule of law in China, including China's failure to protect intellectual property rights (as required under China's WTO commitments), market access on a level playing field in strategic emerging industries such as new energy vehicles, and innovation. However, the JCCT's achievements were reportedly modest.


Background on the JCCT
The JCCT, or Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, a high-level forum for addressing concrete trade issues between the United States and China, was held in Chengdu municipality, Sichuan province, China, on November 20 to 21, 2011. The JCCT was co-chaired on the U.S. side by Secretary of Commerce John Bryson and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and was chaired on the Chinese side by Vice Premier Wang Qishan. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also participated. The annual JCCT is focused on concrete trade issues, unlike the other annual dialogue on economic issues, the S&ED, or Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which addresses broader economic issues of interest in the U.S.-China relationship. On November 21, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a trade fact sheet outlining outcomes of the JCCT and a signing ceremony fact sheet listing agreements and other documents signed at the JCCT, as well as an award that Secretary Bryson gave to the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

The JCCT was founded in 1983 as a dialogue between the U.S. and Chinese commerce departments, initially led by the heads of those departments. Starting in 2004, as noted in a Department of Commerce press release from that year, the JCCT assumed an elevated role as a vehicle for addressing trade and business issues that arose in the aftermath of China's accession to the World Trade Organization, chaired on the U.S. side by the commerce secretary and the trade representative, and on the Chinese side by a vice premier. In each of these higher level dialogues, the specific commitments are determined and outcomes negotiated in the several weeks leading up to the JCCT meeting itself. There are common themes in the several JCCTs, however. For example, each of the JCCT meetings since 2004 has addressed China's protection of intellectual property rights and market access for U.S. agricultural products in China. For details on previous JCCT commitments, see US-China Business Council, "China's JCCT Commitments, 2004–10 (as of June 17, 2011)."

2011 JCCT Meeting
According to a senior official from the Department of Commerce, as reported in China Trade Extra (29 November 11, subscription only) the United States and China do not issue an agreed upon statement of JCCT commitments. Rather, the meetings are covered in the Chinese press, including, for example, reports by Xinhua (21 November 11, in Chinese, reprinted on the Website of the Ministry of Commerce) and China Daily (22 November 11), and the U.S. Commerce Department issues a fact sheet. The latter this year included the following commitments by China:


  • Technology and Innovation. China confirmed that foreign investors will not need to transfer technology or establish domestic Chinese brands in order to participate in China's new energy vehicle (NEV) industry, and would be eligible for subsidies on the same basis as Chinese companies. The NEV sector was listed as one of seven "strategic emerging industries" in China's 12th Five-Year Plan (Chapter 10), to be nurtured into "pillar industries." On the issue of creating Chinese brands, the JCCT commitment may have come too late. According to a report of November 22 in China Trade Extra, Chinese authorities previously had been withholding approval of U.S. automakers' projects in China unless they agreed to establish a domestic Chinese brand new energy vehicle. The report continues, "As a result, nearly all major foreign automakers except Ford have already agreed to produce a domestic [Chinese] NEV brand."


  • IPR. Every JCCT since 2004 has included commitments by China to improve its IPR protection in light of rampant piracy in China. These commitments have ranged from the general, such as China's commitment at the 2004 JCCT to "significantly reduce" levels of infringement and make greater use of criminal penalties, to the specific, such as the 2005 commitment to post an IPR ombudsman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. (For details, see the US-China Business Council's document, "China's JCCT Commitments, 2004–10.") This year, China reported establishing a high-level leadership mechanism, headed by Vice Premier Wang Qishan, to head IPR enforcement in China, and committed to move forward on ensuring that Chinese government bodies at all levels use licensed software. As noted on page 86 of the U.S. Trade Representative's 2011 Report to Congress On China's WTO Compliance, China is obligated under the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO "to protect and enforce the intellectual property rights held by U.S. and other foreign companies and individuals." However, "China has continued to demonstrate little success in actually enforcing its laws and regulations in the face of challenges created by widespread counterfeiting, piracy and other forms of infringement."


  • Agriculture. Unlike previous JCCTs, China did not make any major commitments concerning agricultural market access. According to a November 21 press release by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the parties agreed to "expand discussion" and to move toward making progress in certain areas.


  • Strategic, Newly Emerging Industries. As noted above, the 12th Five-Year Plan includes a chapter on strategic emerging industries. According to the Commerce Department's trade fact sheet, China "assured the United States that it will provide a fair and level playing field for all companies, including U.S. companies," in these industries. The fact sheet notes that China will be investing $1.5 trillion in these industries over the next five years.


China also made commitments or agreements in areas including medical devices, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and travel and tourism.

Overall, from the U.S. standpoint, the outcomes of the 2011 JCCT were "modest," as described by a U.S. industry source quoted in Inside US-China Trade (23 November 11, subscription only), a view reflected by Commerce Secretary Bryson and U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, according to the report.

For information on previous JCCTs, see CECC analyses, "The U.S. and China Held the 20th Meeting of the JCCT in Hangzhou, China" and "United States and China Conclude Annual Bilateral Trade Meeting."


Source: -See Summary (2012-02-13 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Officials Review Second Draft of Mental Health Law, Final Draft Expected in 2012

March 19, 2012

China's first national mental health law continues to move through the final stages of consideration, and unofficial sources indicate that the law may be finalized in 2012. In June 2011, a new draft was released for public comment, and in October 2011, the National People's Congress Standing Committee reviewed a revised draft of the proposed legislation. The October draft retains language from the June draft, but also contains some revisions that, if faithfully implemented, could further constrain officials from abusing psychiatric detention to stifle or punish dissent. Despite these potential improvements, however, the October draft continues to raise concerns regarding the law's compliance with international standards to which China has committed. Specific concerns include the draft's failure to make independent reviews of an initial diagnosis mandatory, lack of provision for the appointment of legal counsel, and lack of safeguards that would place time limits on involuntary commitment.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) reviewed a revised draft of the Mental Health Law (NPC, 29 October 11) during its bimonthly session in late October 2011. In June 2011, the State Council Legislative Affairs Office had released an initial draft (Xinhua, 10 June 11) for public comment. This draft was "repeatedly revised" before being sent to the NPCSC for review, according to a November 21 Sina report. A draft had also been passed "in principle" in a September 2011 State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao (PRC government, 19 September 11), but it is unclear which draft the participants reviewed. Legislation must be approved by the National People's Congress or the NPCSC to become law. Chinese officials first put forth a mental health law draft in 1985 (Global Times, 20 June 11).

The Commission observed vibrant discussion among both domestic and international experts following the release of the draft of the Mental Health Law for public comment in June 2011, as reported in the CECC 2011 Annual Report (pp. 30, 137). Some Chinese citizens who claim to have personally experienced "being misidentified as mentally ill" (bei jingshenbing) also wrote an open letter to the NPCSC regarding the draft (China Daily, 16 November 11). Bei jingshenbing is a phrase used widely on the Internet to refer to officials' abuse of psychiatric detention to stifle or punish dissent (see aggregation of Chinese articles on the subject at China Digital Times).

A CECC comparative analysis of the June and October drafts of the Mental Health Law follows.

Highlights:
The October draft retains language from the June draft that could, if fully implemented, effect positive change in the area of rights protection. Examples of this include:
  • Rights protections for persons living with mental disabilities. The October draft retains language from the June draft prohibiting infringement of the rights to human dignity and personal safety of persons living with mental illness. The October draft also retains language calling for the legal protection of the rights of persons with mental disabilities to privacy and access to education, work, medical treatment, and material assistance from the state and society. (Article 4) Such rights are provided for in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP), which China signed in March 2007 and ratified in August 2008. (See, e.g., Articles 22, 24, and 25-28.)


  • Codified standards for diagnosis and treatment. The October draft retains language that tasks the department of health administration under the State Council with determining a set of standards for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. (Article 21)


  • Regulation of the power to diagnose and commit individuals. The October draft retains language mandating that diagnosis be performed by a practicing psychiatrist and, in cases of involuntary admittance, that two or more psychiatrists diagnose the individual and provide a written copy of the diagnosis within 72 hours. (Article 24) These measures could reduce conflict of interest and undue influence. Article 12(4) of the CRDP requires that States Parties include safeguards that ensure, among other things, that "measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity ... are free of conflict of interest and undue influence ...." However, the October draft's treatment of independent review of a diagnosis still appears to fall short of international standards, as discussed under "Remaining Areas of Concern" below.


Potential Improvements:
Authorities appear to have made certain improvements in the October draft by deleting or revising language from the June draft that had caused concern among observers for its inconsistency with China's international commitments. These changes could strengthen legal protections against official misuse of involuntary commitment to detain individuals who voice dissent. (For more information on this practice, see the CECC 2011 Annual Report, p. 137.) Examples of the potential improvements in the October draft include:
  • Omission of "endangering public safety" and "disrupting social order" as basis for involuntary commitment. Article 27 of the June draft provided for a person to be involuntarily committed if the individual was "in danger of harming himself, endangering public safety or the personal safety of others, or disturbing public order," among other criteria. The October draft (Article 25) does not retain the phrases "endangering public safety" or "disturbing public order" as permissible criteria for involuntary commitment. Both domestic and international experts had criticized the inclusion of the phrases "endangering public safety" and "disrupting social order" in the June draft due to their vague nature and their potential for misinterpretation as support for the official misuse of psychiatric detention to quell dissent. (Aizhixing, via Blogspot, 24 June 11; China Law & Policy interview with mental disability law expert and New York Law School Professor Michael Perlin, 24 October 11).


  • "Patient assessment" now factored into procedures for involuntary commitment. While the June draft (Article 28) mentioned that only "diagnosis" (zhenduan) was necessary for determining that an individual should be confined against his or her will, the corresponding provision in the October draft added an additional requirement. The revised language (Article 25) states that an individual diagnosed with a mental disability must also undergo an assessment of his condition in order to be involuntarily committed. Professor Perlin had discussed the need for such language in his October 24 China Law & Policy interview, presumably prior to reviewing the October draft.


  • Process of appeal for involuntary commitment expanded and more clearly outlined than in June draft. In Articles 29-32, the June draft provided procedures by which an individual or his family may seek recourse if they disagree with a decision of involuntary commitment. The October draft (Articles 26, 27, and 32) provides even greater detail on these procedures, with added language specifying such items as:


    1. Persons who request an independent review to contest a diagnosis must do so within three days from the initial diagnosis (October draft, Article 26).

    2. An independent review must be conducted by two doctors who are different from those who provided the initial diagnosis (October draft, Article 26).

    3. Both drafts provide for an evaluation by a "mental disability judicial evaluation" entity, by request, to contest an independent review. The October draft allows for a second judicial evaluation, by request, after the initial one, and mandates that in cases in which the conclusions of the two judicial evaluations differ, the second shall be considered correct (October draft, Articles 26 and 27). Under provisions in the June draft (Articles 30-32), a single judicial evaluation of the doctors' independent review was the final step one could take in contesting involuntary commitment.

    4. Doctors tasked with providing an independent review or persons providing a judicial evaluation must visit the individual in person to interview him (October draft, Articles 27, 32).


Remaining Areas of Concern:
Domestic and international observers have raised concerns about the June draft that, according to Commission analysis, appear to remain unaddressed in the October draft. These include:

  • No provision for mandatory independent review. While, as discussed above, in cases of involuntary commitment, persons may request an independent review (fuzhen) of an initial diagnosis (October draft, Article 27), this provision places the burden on the individual or representing party to make the request, as opposed to making such a review automatic. Article 12(4) of the CRDP requires that "measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity ... are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body."


  • No provision for the appointment of legal counsel. Neither draft provides for the appointment of legal counsel during any part of the review process outlined above. The June draft did mention that the judicial entity in charge of providing an evaluation after an independent review should call in a legal expert to participate (Article 30), but this language appears to have been omitted from the October draft. In an open letter to the NPCSC, a group of five Chinese citizens who claim to have experienced wrongful institutionalization noted the lack of provision for legal representation during the appeal process (China Daily, 16 November 11), as did public health advocacy group Aizhixing in their June 24 report. Article 12(3) of the CRDP requires that "States Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access to persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity."


  • Indefinite involuntary commitment. Neither the June nor the October draft appears to place limits on the length of time a person may be involuntarily institutionalized. Aizhixing raised this concern in their June 24 report, calling for a "set time limit for forced hospitalization and treatment." Professor Perlin also raised this issue in his October 24 China Law & Policy interview, and indicated concern about whether "indefinite commitment without clear judicial review passes muster under the international human rights law." Article 12(4) of the CRDP requires States Parties to provide safeguards to prevent official abuse, and in doing so, to "ensure that all measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity ... are proportional and tailored to the person's circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body."


  • No provision for an individual's right to refuse medication. Neither the June nor the October draft appear to have included language regarding an individual's right to refuse medication. Professor Michael Perlin raised concern about this omission, calling it a "huge issue" (China Law & Policy, 24 October 11).
Prospects for Finalization
According to one domestic observer, Huang Xuetao, director of Equity & Justice Initiative—a Shenzhen-based non-governmental organization which coordinates projects on mental health, the law is expected to be finalized in 2012 (USA Today, 29 December 11). However, the Commission has not observed official statements providing information on an expected finalization timeframe.

Previous CECC analysis on local-level mental health regulations drafted in Beijing ahead of the Olympics can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy. For additional information on the progress of the draft Mental Health Law, see Section II—Public Health in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-02-10 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Enterprise Labor Dispute Provisions Emphasize "Harmony" and "Stability," Do Not Address Fundamental Worker Rights Issues

February 28, 2012

On December 1, 2011, China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued the Provisions on Consultation and Mediation for Enterprise Labor Disputes, effective January 1, 2012. The Provisions impose a new requirement on all medium and large enterprises to establish committees responsible for mediating disputes in the workplace, and the Provisions stipulate some additional, limited protections for worker rights. The Provisions, however, fail to address the fact that workers in China are not guaranteed the right to organize into independent unions, leaving the government, Communist Party, and employers with greater bargaining power in the process of dispute resolution. Workers continued to organize public demonstrations in late 2011 and early 2012 to advocate for their demands in labor disputes, and in some of those cases, officials tasked with maintaining "harmony" and "stability" used force against or detained workers while trying to stop such demonstrations. In addition, recent statements and reports from high-level officials, as well as local governments and Party organizations, indicate a continued emphasis on prioritizing "harmony" and "stability" in dealing with labor disputes.

Provisions Require Medium and Large Enterprises To Establish Labor Dispute Mediation Committees, Outline Limited Worker Rights Protections

The Provisions on Consultation and Mediation for Enterprise Labor Disputes ("the Provisions," available in Chinese via the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security Web site), if implemented as stipulated, will supplement the existing labor dispute resolution system by requiring all medium and large enterprises to establish "enterprise labor dispute mediation committees" ("enterprise mediation committees," Art. 13), which consist of representatives from an enterprise's workforce and management (Art. 15). Establishing these committees is optional for small enterprises (Art. 14). Under the 2008 PRC Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law (available in English via the Ministry of Commerce Web site), enterprise mediation committees already existed as an option for labor dispute mediation, but enterprises were not required to establish them. Under the Provisions, parties to a dispute may seek mediation through enterprise mediation committees, or they may seek mediation through "township, village, or neighborhood labor, employment, and social security service centers; or other mediation organizations established in accordance with the law" (Art. 12).

In addition to requiring medium and large enterprises to establish these committees, the Provisions outline other measures that could provide limited protections for workers' rights. Examples include the following:
  • Workers may raise concerns with enterprise mediation committees if they believe there is a problem with an enterprise's implementation of a contract, a collective contract, a labor statute, or an enterprise's internal labor regulations. Mediation committees then have an obligation to verify the content of the complaint and either coordinate with the enterprise to rectify the problem or give an explanation to the workers (Art. 4).

  • The Provisions further clarify the process of "consultations" (xieshang). For example, they specify that if one party does not respond to a request for consultations within five days, it will be considered unwilling to engage in consultations (Art. 10). The Provisions also stipulate that the parties can specify a length of time for consultations (Art. 10) and that an agreement reached through consultations is binding (Art. 11).

  • Under the Provisions, enterprise mediation committees are responsible for publicizing labor laws, regulations, and policies in the workplace (Art. 16(1)).
Provisions Fail To Grant Workers Right To Organize Into Independent Unions, Task Officials With Maintaining "Harmony" and "Stability"

The Provisions make references to protecting workers' rights, but they do not address the fact that workers in China still are not guaranteed the right to organize into independent unions (see CECC 2011 Annual Report, 69-70). Instead, they assign leading roles in protecting worker rights to the government, Party, and employers, failing to grant workers greater power to advocate for their own rights. The Provisions obligate enterprises to "guide workers to protect their rights rationally" (Art. 5) and obligate the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) to "guide enterprises" to respect laws, regulations, and policies related to worker rights (Art. 7(1)). The Provisions do not define the term "rationally." The Provisions also stipulate that the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (a Party-led organization under which all union activity is organized) "may take the initiative to participate in the handling of labor dispute consultations and protect workers' lawful rights and interests" (Art. 9). In some cases, workers have organized public demonstrations to advocate for their demands in labor disputes, and the MOHRSS issued the Provisions amid a series of such labor disputes in various parts of China that garnered international media attention (see, e.g., Agence France-Presse, 26 November 11, reprinted in Google; Guardian, 30 November 11; China Labour Bulletin, 5 December 11).

The Provisions' emphasis on maintaining what officials refer to as "harmony" and "stability" may provide impetus for officials to stop labor disputes without addressing the grievances that underlie such disputes. Several articles in the Provisions emphasize the importance of preventing labor disputes in an effort to maintain "harmony" and "stability" (see, e.g., Arts. 1, 3, 5, 34), and in some recent cases, officials reportedly used force against or detained workers while trying to stop labor disputes in attempts to maintain "harmony" and "stability." Examples include the following (some of these reports describe "confrontations" or "clashes" between workers and police, but none of them confirm that workers used force in any of these incidents):In addition, recent statements and reports from high-level officials, as well as local governments and Party organizations, indicate a continued emphasis on prioritizing "harmony" and "stability" in dealing with labor disputes. Examples include the following:
  • In remarks printed in the Party-controlled People's Daily (26 December 11, in Chinese), Shen Weichen, an alternate member of the Communist Party Central Committee and Deputy Head of the Party Central Propaganda Department, said, "Harmony in enterprises is the foundation of social harmony, and harmony in labor relations is the crux of harmony in enterprises."

  • Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party Central Committee and Party Secretary for Shanghai municipality, reportedly said that "establishing harmonious labor relations are important for social harmony, stability, and progress…" (Liberation Daily, 20 January 12, in Chinese).

  • A guiding opinion from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security stated that "the ability to appropriately settle [labor] disputes… directly affects social harmony and stability" (13 December 11).

  • A press release on the Web site of the Luhe district, Nanjing municipality, Jiangsu province, Office of the Leading Small Group on Governing the District According to the Law said that a Nanjing court's handling of a major labor dispute case showed the court's "dynamic judicial ideas in… maintaining social harmony and stability" (31 December 11).

For more information on conditions for workers in China, see Section II—Worker Rights in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-02-01 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=169333

Environmental Protection Law Draft Revisions: Authorities Remove Language Regarding Strengthening Public Participation, Accountability, and Transparency

March 13, 2012

Chinese lawmakers are discussing draft revisions to the 1989 PRC Environmental Protection Law but do not appear poised to conclude the first reading prior to the end of the current legislative calendar in March 2011. Lawmakers already eliminated language from the draft revisions that expressed stronger official support for public participation, and improved incentives for governmental accountability and enforcement in the environment sector. Removing the language may have implications for developing the rule of law and democratic participation in the sector, and for channeling public demand for a cleaner environment in a manner that prevents protests. Top leaders limited the scope of revisions, and while environmental authorities later incorporated recommendations from experts and central and local officials before submitting the proposed draft revisions to the National People's Congress Standing Committee for review, the role of the non-governmental sector has been less clear.

Drafters Removed Proposed Language Encouraging Public Participation
Authorities removed language from draft revisions to the 1989 Environmental Protection Law (EPL) that stipulated stronger support of public participation in environmental affairs. Between February and September, they reportedly removed the phrase "the state encourages public participation in environmental protection" from Article 6 (Caixin, via Sina, 05 December 11 and Caixin, via QQ.com, 6 December 11). In February 2011, the Ministry of Environmental Protection [MEP] reportedly provided a draft for limited circulation and review by select central- and local-level officials and experts before sending a revised draft to the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Conservation Committee (EPNRC) of the National People's Congress in September, according to the same articles. It is unclear exactly who wanted the language removed or why. There may be a link between the lack of public participation before construction of polluting projects and citizen grievances afterward. One Chinese scholar drew a connection between the lack of public oversight and public opposition later in several cases involving polluting enterprises (Chinadialogue, 6 September 11). According to another Chinese scholar, disputes about environmental pollution have increased by 20 to 25 percent each year since the mid-1990s (Chinadialogue, 23 September 10).

Drafters Remove Proposed Language Regarding Enforcement, Accountability, and Transparency
Drafters of the EPL also removed some language that could have strengthened incentives conducive to improved official accountability and enforcement in the environmental sector at the local level, including making the performance of local governments more transparent (Caixin, 8 December 11 and 6 December 11), as the following examples illustrate:

  1. By September, authorities had removed proposed language in Article 22 which stated that "the national government should assess the environmental performance of local governments," and that the MEP "in conjunction with State Council supervisory agencies will meet with relevant responsible government officials from provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities and circulate nationally the names of local governments that do not meet environmental targets."

  2. Authorities removed language from Article 23 contained in the February draft, which reportedly stated that governments at all administrative levels would report to people's congresses at the same level regarding their progress toward achieving environmental targets and accept supervision from the congresses.

  3. Authorities also removed language regarding official assessment of fines on a daily basis for enterprises that do not rectify illegal polluting behavior within a specified time frame, which weakens the incentive for compliance.
The lack of compliance with and weak enforcement of environmental laws reportedly are problems China has faced for many years (Benjamin van Rooij, Development and Change, 26 April 06 and Chinadialogue, 23 September 10). In addition, many viewed the EPL as inadequate because the pollution fines it provided for have been insufficient to deter polluting behavior, according to an October 2011 Winston & Strawn Law Firm briefing.

Scope of Revisions Limited, Government and Expert Input Sought in Drafting Process, NGOs’ Role Not Yet Clear
The EPNRC dictated the scope and main directions of revisions when it first requested the MEP to draft proposed language in January 2011. The EPNRC requested a draft focusing on specific areas ("eight plus one" topics) with "limited goals and a focus on key points," according to the same article. (For one version of the list of the "eight plus one" focus points, see the October 2011 brief by Winston & Strawn.) Many Chinese scholars reportedly believe that the EPNRC limited the scope of revisions in order to avoid conflicts among central-level ministries, commissions, and local governments, according to the December 6 and December 8 Caixin articles.

Authorities conducted research and solicited suggestions from select central- and local-level officials in the period between the February and September drafts. In April 2011, the EPNRC in conjunction with MEP conducted research on implementation of the EPL in at least two provinces—Hunan and Hubei (Caixin, via QQ.com, 6 December 11). In addition, the organizations held at least three forums to discuss the proposed revisions and to collect suggestions from central-level ministries, legal experts, and local people's congresses and governments in Wuhan city, according to the December 6 Caixin article, and in two locations in Hunan province (NPC, via Yueyang Daily, 18 April 11 and National People's Congress, 13 April 11).

It appears that authorities have not yet solicited input from the public or the environmental non-governmental sector. One organization, however, the MEP-affiliated All-China Environmental Protection Federation (ACEF), apparently has on its own initiative, tried to engage in the drafting process. In March 2011, the United Nations Development Program and the ACEF convened a small forum with ACEF representatives and a few legal experts to discuss the MEP proposed draft revisions, according to a 7 March 11 ACEF article. The same article did not provide information about if or how the opinions voiced at this meeting were incorporated into the drafting process. Authorities have not yet solicited suggestions from the general public and will not likely do so until the NPC Standing Committee completes the first reading of the draft revisions. A 2008 Standing Committee mandate stipulates that, in general, authorities make draft laws available to and solicit suggestions from the public (NPC Standing Committee. 21 April 08). China's Legislation Law also provides for public input on draft laws (Article 35). A September 2009 article by Jamie Horsley includes a discussion of public participation in legislative processes. According to this article, soliciting public input on most draft laws has become a fairly standard practice.

Background and Drafting Process
Chinese lawmakers passed the Provisional EPL in 1979 and the EPL in 1989, which they have not amended since, despite worsening environmental problems and calls to amend the law, according to the December 8 Caixin article. In the interim, the article argues, lawmakers enacted almost 30 other environmental laws, the provisions of which reportedly became surrogates for the EPL. According to the same article, one Chinese scholar noted that the EPL has existed in name only for many years. In recent years, calls to revise the law came in rapid succession, according to the December 6 Caixin article, via QQ.com. The NPC received 75 motions to revise the EPL between 1995 and 2011, according to the April 13 NPC article.

The drafting process consists of several major steps, is ongoing, and the proposed revisions still contain new language related to environmental transparency. In January 2011, the EPNRC formally requested the MEP submit draft revisions to the EPL for review during the 2011 legislative session that ended in March 2012, according to the December 8 Caixin article. In February 2011, after MEP officials drafted proposed revisions, the ministry reportedly provided a draft (xiugai jianyi chugao) for limited circulation to gather suggestions from ministries, commissions, and local officials (Caixin, 5 December 11 and 6 December 11). On September 7, after considering research findings and suggestions, the MEP sent the revised draft to the EPNRC, according to the December 5 Caixin article. In early November, after the EPNRC made revisions, it sent the EPL "examination draft" (songshengao) revisions to the NPC Standing Committee, according to the same article. According to the December 6 Caixin article, authorities are still making changes to the draft. While scholars believe the new draft revisions still may be unenforceable because they lack explicit penalties, the revisions for the time being still contain some “bright spots.” For example, the September draft reportedly still includes some new language related to governmental and enterprise environmental transparency.

For more information on environmental law and its implementation, as well as public participation in environmental policymaking and environmental transparency, see Section II—The Environment in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-01-27 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Beijing Cracks Down On Private Security Companies Used To Detain Petitioners

February 2, 2012

According to Global Times, a publication that operates under the official People's Daily, Beijing municipal Public Security Bureaus launched an official six-month "crack down" on illegal detentions of petitioners by private security companies. The crackdown comes after Chinese news media exposed instances of abuse by "stability maintenance organizations" under contract by local governments to prevent petitioners from airing their grievances to the central government. While authorities have cast the "crackdown" as a serious attempt to restrict the use of private "stability maintenance organizations," the implications and effectiveness of the crackdown remain unclear.

Background
Petitioning exists to provide a channel, outside of court challenges, for citizens to appeal government decisions and present their grievances. Chinese citizens often use the petitioning system to seek redress for perceived wrongs, especially when dealing with issues in local corruption and land compensation. (See the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2011 Annual Report for additional information on the petitioning system.) When seeking redress at the central government level, petitioners from all regions attempt to travel to Beijing, where the central government is located, and present their grievances to central authorities through attempts to hand over letters, pass out leaflets, set up banners in prominent locations, or otherwise draw attention to one's grievance (see, e.g., hand over letters, pass out leaflets, set up banners).

In October 2010, Southern Metropolitan Daily exposed a private security company, Anyuanding, under contract by local governments to block petitioners from petitioning to central authorities in Beijing. An October 27, 2010, article in Global Times reported that Anyuanding employed a variety of methods to prevent petitioners from making their grievances heard. The methods reportedly included coercion, pressure, abduction, detention in ''black jails'' (extralegal detention facilities) for extended periods of time, and beatings. In 2010, Chinese Human Rights Defenders documented at least 2,600 cases of petitioner detention in the black jails. More recently, in August 2011, Chinese media exposed former employees of a private security company who ran a black jail that held petitioners located on the outskirts of Beijing in an operation revealed to be funded by five local governments.

Current Crackdown Regulations
According to a December 1, 2011, Beijing News article (via Xinhua), the Beijing public security bureau will require all security companies to register by the end of February 2012 and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against those who seek to "block petitioners and act against regulations." Specifically, the main goals of the crackdown target companies that block petitioners from reaching central authorities, operate without a license, and use violence against petitioners. In addition, according to Global Times, authorities will prohibit security companies from using police insignia and start keeping records of security companies' activities.

Results Uncertain
The effectiveness and long-term impact of the crackdown remain unclear. China's Regulations on Public Security Services, which became effective in January 2010, already contain regulations on "stability maintenance," and private security companies. For example, Chapter 2 contains conditions which must be met (Articles 8-12) by security companies before operations can start, including a license application requirement (Article 9). Furthermore, current regulations already prohibit some potential conflict of interest situations by preventing authorities from running and managing private security companies (Article 40).

However, as an April 12, 2011, article from Caijing points out, it has been difficult for local authorities to give up the practice of running private security companies. According to the article, the lack of guidance on how to disentangle security bureaus from operating private security companies, and the desire by public security bureaus to keep collecting financial rewards from the reportedly 40 billion yuan industry have all contributed to lack of reform in spite of having laws on the books.

Many Chinese citizens still view citizen petitioning to central authorities as the ultimate channel for redress against wrongdoing by local officials even though only approximately 0.2 percent of the petitioners resolve their grievances through petitioning, according to Global Times based on 2007 research conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. As a June 6, 2011 Caijing article points out, the central authorities' mandate to preserve stability, especially the practice of tying the lack of petitioning incidents to local officials' career advancement, has contributed to the rise of illegal conduct by private security companies against petitioners. It remains to be seen whether a six-month-long crackdown on these companies will have any fundamental effect on the entrenched system.

For additional information on petitioning, see Section III—Access to Justice in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2012-01-27 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
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Status of Uyghur Children in Detention Unknown Following Border Clash

February 1, 2012

Five Uyghur children from a county in Hoten, Xinjiang, are in detention, following a December 2011 clash between a group of Uyghurs and security officials. Local sources say the children were part of a group attempting to leave China due to religious persecution, while official Chinese sources describe the group as terrorists traveling to Pakistan for training. According to multiple accounts, a public security officer was stabbed to death after officials confronted the group, and security forces then opened fire. Official sources report four people in the group were killed and four wounded and taken into detention. Local sources say those in detention are five children, at least four of whom range in age from 7 to 17, and that information on their status and health conditions is not known. Security in the area reportedly remains tight as authorities have attempted to restrict the flow of information about the events and detained family members and others in the aftermath of the clash. The news follows other recent incidents that Chinese authorities have described as terrorist attacks, while other sources have reported facts that differ from the official accounts.

The legal status and health condition of a group of Uyghur children in detention remain unknown, following a reported clash in Pishan (Guma) county, Hoten district, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, at which the children were present, according to a series of reports from Radio Free Asia (RFA) based on interviews with residents and local officials. Sources cited by RFA described the incident as a clash between public security officials and a group of Uyghurs attempting to flee China due to religious repression. Official Chinese media sources reported the incident as police intervention, after members of a terrorist group took two people hostage.

Chinese Media Reports "Terrorist" Group Takes Hostages
According to December 29, 2011, Xinhua reports (English, Chinese) based on XUAR government and Communist Party sources, public security officers intervened after a "violent terrorist" group took two people hostage in Pishan county on the evening of December 28. After the hostage-takers "resisted arrest," officers began to shoot, killing seven members of the group and injuring four others, who were taken into custody. The hostage-takers killed one officer and wounded another, according to the reports. A December 30 article from the Global Times, citing an anonymous local official, reported that the group consisted of 15 people who were en route to Central Asia "to receive jihadist training" and who took two herders hostage to guide them after they became lost. Although the earlier Xinhua report in Chinese said the hostages were rescued, apparently in the course of the shootout (a process described as being "freed" in the English report), the Global Times article reported the same official account of a rescue but also reported a seemingly different account, confirmed by a XUAR government official cited in the article. According to this second account, the herders taken hostage "escaped and contacted local police," apparently before the shootout. The Global Times report does not address the apparent discrepancy.

Local Accounts Conflict with Chinese State Media
Accounts by local public security officers and residents, cited in reports from RFA, differed from official accounts in Xinhua and the Global Times. A public security source cited in a December 29 RFA article said that police stopped a group of Uyghur young people en route to Pakistan and opened fire after one youth stabbed a police officer. The source did not know if hostages had been taken. In an interview cited in a December 30 RFA report, a public security officer reported that the group fleeing consisted of villagers who planned to seek asylum outside China. According to the officer's account, public security officers, acting on a tip about their plans, intercepted the group and tried to persuade them to return home. After an officer caught hold of a woman in the group, a public security officer was stabbed, and other officers "took over and conducted the operation," according to the account. A leader in the village where many in the group were from, cited in the same article, reported the group was leaving due to religious persecution. One person killed in the clash reportedly had been previously detained for three months for participating in an "illegal" religious class. A villager cited in the article also suggested that the group left due to pressure on their religious practices and that the clash ensued after public security officers took hold of one of the women in the group. A January 6 report from RFA (in Uyghur) noted the presence of children in the group (see below for further discussion) but also reported the ages of six of the seven people killed as ranging between 26 and 40 years old. A December 29 RFA article (in Uyghur) raised the question of proportionate use of force against the group, citing a local official who said group members had knives and sticks, but who argued that this appeared as a heavy threat to the police. (For additional information, see UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.)

Official media has not addressed the discrepancy between the initial reporting on the events, based on XUAR government sources, and information provided by local residents, including local officials. Official accounts have differed from those of witnesses and non-official sources in past events, as well. As noted in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2011 Annual Report, after the government reported that a premeditated terrorist attack on a police station took place in Hoten district in July 2011, some people in Hoten contradicted the government's account, and some sources reported that the incident involved authorities suppressing a protest that started at another location. A September 28, 2008, New York Times article noted an incident in Kashgar district that authorities described as a terrorist attack against paramilitary officers using a truck and explosives, an account that foreign tourists who witnessed the account disputed.

Status of Detainees Unknown Amid Tight Security Measures
Although official media reports indicated that four people in the group had been detained, RFA articles reported that five children—including those between 7 and 17 years old—were in apparent custody, while a 6-year-old child with the group fleeing China had gone missing. (RFA January 8; January 6 in Uyghur; December 30, citing a local source.) A local Communist Party official reportedly said that the six-year-old had taken part in the clash by throwing stones at officers, according to the January 8 report. A public security officer reported in a January 2 RFA article that a minor thought to be 17 years old had been shot and seriously injured, and said all five children were in custody in the county public security bureau.

It is unclear on what legal basis, if any, the children remain in custody and what their current health status is. The whereabouts of the sixth child remains unknown. Although one official reported that the five children were in custody at the county public security bureau, as noted above, it is unclear if family members have been informed. In the case of detention by public security officials, Article 64(2) of China's Criminal Procedure Law mandates that family members receive notification. Article 37(b) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which China is a state party, states that detention "shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time[.]" See also detailed information in United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.

In addition, security measures in the area reportedly remain tight. A school director cited in the January 2 RFA report said that family members of a nine-year-old boy taken in custody during the clash have been detained, while a World Uyghur Congress (WUC) spokesperson cited in the December 29 RFA article reported additional detentions within the county and orders for hospital personnel at the facility where the injured and dead were taken not to speak about the events. A December 29 WUC press release also cited local residents who said authorities were taking cell phones to stop people from transmitting information about the events.

For more information on conditions in the XUAR, see Section IV-Xinjiang in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2012-01-10 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=168528

Chinese Authorities Issue Regulations To Control Journalists and "Unverified Reports"

May 8, 2012

In mid-October 2011, the Chinese government released regulations that aim to control journalists' use of "unverified information" and to regulate news agencies' review procedures. The regulations prohibit Chinese journalists from directly including "unverified information" obtained from the Internet or mobile text messages in their reporting. In addition, the regulations require that news agencies improve the system of accountability for "fake" or "false" news reports, terms that are not defined in the regulations. The October 2011 announcement followed official calls to restrict news reporting and to limit so-called "rumors" in the media.

On October 19, 2011, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), an administrative agency that controls the regulation and the distribution of news in print and Internet publications, issued the Several Provisions To Prevent and Guard Against False Reporting (Provisions), which entered into effect on the same day. The Provisions prohibit journalists from using information from the Internet or mobile phones in their reporting that authorities deem "unverified," and the Provisions require that news agencies improve accountability mechanisms to safeguard against "false" reporting. The Provisions also state penalties applicable to journalists and news agencies that publish "false" information that authorities deem to be harmful to national or public interests or that authorities decide may bring about "adverse social impacts."

Official Rationale Behind New Regulations

In November 2011, official state-run media organizations reported on justifications behind the release of the Provisions, citing reasons such as to curb what they described as "false news reports," to bolster the credibility of Chinese news organizations, and to curb the influence of "new" media (People's Daily, 11 November 11; Xinhua, 10 November 11). According to a November 10, 2011, Xinhua article, the Provisions seek to "increas[e] the credibility of Chinese news organizations." According to a November 18, 2011 People's Daily Online article (in Chinese), Professor Lei Yuejie of the Communication Research Institute at the Communication University of China writes that the background and rationale behind the provisions is twofold: first, the Provisions aim to follow the July 2011 movement set out by the Central Propaganda Department in "Moving at the Grassroots, Transitioning Work Styles, and Reforming Writing Styles" (zou jiceng, zhuan zuofeng, gai wenfeng)—that aims to place greater emphasis on handling propaganda work and leveraging public opinion. Second, the Provisions aim to check the influence of new media resources, including the Internet and mobile devices. According to Lei, the Provisions also seek to curb the "upward trend" of inaccurate news reporting by traditional news media outlets. (The article did not cite statistical evidence demonstrating the "upward trend.")

News organizations outside of mainland China, however, have reported that journalists within mainland China have raised concerns that the Provisions will limit news gathering and investigative reporting. For example, a November 11, 2012, South China Morning Post article reports that some mainland Chinese journalists have decried the regulations as "another move to step up censorship" and that one Oriental Morning Post (Dongfang Zaobao) journalist claimed the regulations may endanger cross-regional reporting—which refers to a publication in one region reporting on sensitive events in another province to avoid drawing the ire of local leaders responsible for managing its publication.

The announcement of the Provisions apparently reflects a growing concern by Chinese authorities over the popularity of microblogging Web sites—and the issue of spreading online rumors. According to a November 11, 2011, New York Times article, "[Chinese] authorities appear particularly concerned about fast-spreading rumors of corruption or abuse of authority by government officials, a frequent topic on the Twitter-like microblogs." In recent months, Chinese officials and official state-run media have consistently warned the public about the dangers of online rumors. According to a November 3, 2011, People's Daily editorial, the sixth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party advocated for collective efforts to dispel online rumors in October 2011. According to a December 1, 2011, article in the People's Daily, the official news media of the Communist Party, Internet rumors are "online psychological drugs" that are "no less harmful than gambling, pornography and drugs." A November 28, 2011, Xinhua article declared that online rumors were even more dangerous than heroin or cocaine, since Internet rumors can "poison the social environment and influence social order."

Notice on the Issuance of "Several Provisions To Prevent and Guard Against False Reporting"

The Provisions require that journalists provide additional sources for news reporting and be subject to stricter controls in news gathering. The Provisions do not define "false" news reports but state that journalists must adhere to the principle of "seeking truth from facts" and must not "deliberately distort the truth." The Provisions' use of vague and undefined terms—including "true," "accurate," and "objective"—raise concern that Chinese officials and media organizations may interpret these terms broadly to target journalists that report on topics authorities deem to be politically sensitive.

The Provisions address, in part, the following topics and requirements:
  • The regulations require that journalists "use authoritative sources, news, or verifiable facts; [and] must not compile and distribute news based on unverified rumors and other non-first hand materials." (Article 1(4))

  • The regulations require journalists to produce at least two sources for any news reports that involve criticism and to ensure that news reports are “true, objective, and accurate." (Article 1(5))

  • The regulations require that "News agencies must strictly regulate news gathering processes, establishing, and improving the review system for publications and broadcasts..." (Article 2(1))

  • The regulations require that news agencies strictly employ an open system for receiving publicly available documents and Internet information and not directly use unverified information and mobile phone messages. (Article 2(3))

  • The regulations require that news agencies establish a sound mechanism for receiving public reports, complaints, inspections, disposal procedures, and feedback. (Article 3(1))

  • The regulations require that news agencies improve their systems of accountability for "fake" (xujia) or "false" (shishi) reports. (Article 3(3))

  • The regulations state that journalists who "compile and distribute false information that is harmful to national or public interests" and those that "publish inaccurate reports with adverse social impacts" shall be given a warning, in accordance with existing laws and regulations. If "the circumstances are serious," the journalist may not be able to engage in news editing or production for five years; if the infringement is criminal, the journalist may be held criminally responsible and may not be able to engage in news editing or production permanently. (Article 4(2))

Provisions Governing Journalists Raise Concerns over Internationally Recognized Protections

The additional state regulation and control over journalists reflected in the Provisions, including vague requirements against posting what officials deem to be "false" information or "inaccurate" information, raise concerns over how Chinese authorities may interpret these restrictions to de-license or criminally prosecute journalists exercising their fundamental rights under international human rights standards. The Provisions may restrict the rights of journalists to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 in both the ICCPR, which China signed and has committed to ratify, and the UDHR, provide a general right to "impart information and ideas through any media." Despite international human rights standards, Chinese authorities have a well-documented track record of censoring politically sensitive news reporting that should be protected under international law.

While governments may, under Article 19, impose limited restrictions on free expression—if such restrictions are for the purpose of protecting the rights and reputations of others, national security or public order, or public health and morals—Article 19 does not allow Chinese officials to restrict expression for the purpose of preventing Chinese citizens from imparting information that the Chinese government or Communist Party deem to be politically sensitive for other reasons. The United Nations Human Rights Council stated in its resolution 12/16 (available on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Web site) that such restrictions should never be applied to discussion of certain sensitive topics: "Government policies and political debate; reporting on human rights, Government activities and corruption in Government; engaging in election campaigns, peaceful demonstrations or political activities, including for peace or democracy; and expression of opinion and dissent, religion or belief, including by persons belonging to minorities or vulnerable groups." The United Nations Human Rights Council, in the same resolution, called on states to review procedures, practices and legislation to ensure that any limitations are necessary for "the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals."

In recent years, Chinese officials have commented publicly on the role of independent news reporting, particularly online news reporting, as official concerns have grown over unregulated news reporting on China's fast-growing Internet. In a February 22, 2010, People's Daily interview, an unnamed GAPP official, noting concern about the Internet's role in disseminating news, emphasized legal requirements preventing commercial Web sites and unlicensed "Internet journalists" from independently reporting news on the Internet. The official said that commercial Web sites are not news organizations and thus "are not qualified to legally report or originally issue news." The official said that the only news Web sites that were allowed to originally report news were "traditional media" already licensed by the government and authorized to apply for press cards for their journalists (see Articles 4 and 12 of the Measures for Administration of News Reporter Cards). The official cited as examples the news Web sites of traditional media such as People.com.cn (of the Communist Party's flagship newspaper People's Daily) and Xinhuanet.com (of the central government's news agency).

The Provisions follow other existing official limitations and restrictions on journalists and news editors. Restrictions on freedom of the press in China include the following: (1) censorship directives; (2) requirements that all journalists apply with the government for a license to practice their profession and that permit punishment for not having a license; (3) having to abide by an ethical code that requires loyalty to the Party; and (4) having to pass a qualification exam that includes ideological requirements. The October 2011 Provisions may also further signal a continuing worsening situation for journalists in China. According to Reporters Without Borders' 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index, press freedoms and freedom of information declined considerably in 2011: "China, which has more journalists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents in prison than any other country, stepped up its censorship and propaganda in 2011 and tightened its control of the Internet..."

For additional information on conditions for journalists in China, see Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-12-08 / English) | Posted on: 2012-05-18  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=167527

CECC Releases Chinese Translation of 2011 Annual Report Executive Summary

May 15, 2012

(Washington, DC)—A Chinese translation of the Executive Summary of the 2011 Annual Report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China is now available. The executive summary includes major trends such as disregard for and misapplication of the law, and increased Communist Party control over society, as well as potential areas for progress.

华盛顿,5月15日:现将国会及行政当局中国委员会2011年年度报告要点摘要中文译文

提供给读者。要点摘要包括无视和滥用法律、共产党加紧对中国社会的控制力度以及有进步潜能方面的主要趋势。

A copy of the translation is available on the Commission's Web site at: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt11/AR11ExecTranslation.pdf.

该文本刊载在本委员会的网站上。网址:http://www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt11/AR11ExecTranslation.pdf

The Commission's 2011 report provided information on:

  • Freedom of Expression
  • Worker Rights
  • Criminal Justice
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Ethnic Minority Rights
  • Population Planning
  • Residence and Movement
  • Human Trafficking
  • North Korean Refugees in China
  • Public Health
  • The Environment
  • Civil Society
  • Institutions of Democratic Governance
  • Access to Justice
  • Property
  • Status of Women
  • Commercial Rule of Law
  • Tibet
  • Developments in Hong Kong and Macau
  • Xinjiang


本委员会2011年的年度报告提供了以下方面的信息:

  • 言论自由
  • 工人的权利
  • 刑事司法
  • 宗教自由
  • 少数民族权利
  • 计划生育
  • 居住和迁徙自由
  • 妇女的状况
  • 人口拐卖
  • 在中国的朝鲜难民
  • 公共卫生
  • 环境
  • 公民社会
  • 民主治理机构
  • 民主治理机构
  • 获取司法与正义资源
  • 财产
  • 新疆
  • 西藏
  • 在香港和澳门的发展


The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by Congress in October 2000 to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. Members of the Commission are nine Representatives and nine Senators from both parties, along with five senior officials in the Executive Branch, representing the Department of State, Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

美国国会及行政当局中国委员会由美国国会于2000年10月成立。该委员会的主要任务为监督中国的人权状况与法治发展情况并就此向总统与国会提交年度报告。委员会的成员为两党的9位众议员和9位参议员及代表国务院、劳工部、商务部和美国国际开发署的5名高级行政官员。



Source: -See Summary (2012-05-15 ) | Posted on: 2012-05-15  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's Visit to the United States

February 14, 2012


The chairmen of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China today called on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to take concrete steps to improve human rights and the rule of law in China.

"It is our fervent hope that Vice President Xi can reverse the course of his predecessors and usher in positive changes in China. But we remain extremely concerned, as the run-up to Vice President Xi becoming the next leader of China has been accompanied by one of the worst crackdowns in recent memory," said Representative Chris Smith, Chairman of the Commission. "Beyond that, China's oppression of house churches, censorship of the Internet, and one-child policy continue unabated."

"As China's likely next leader, Vice President Xi has a unique opportunity to improve relations with the United States," said Senator Sherrod Brown, Cochairman of the Commission. "But in order to win the respect of the American people, Vice President Xi must make every effort to ensure China plays by the rules, abides by its international obligations, and guarantees the fundamental rights of all its citizens."

Vice President Xi, who is expected to assume President Hu Jintao's leadership positions in the Communist Party and government in 2012 and 2013, arrived in the United States on February 13.

Both Smith and Brown expressed concern over the government's treatment of human rights activists and called for an end to a government crackdown that began in February 2011.

"The well-known activists Gao Zhisheng and Chen Guangcheng have endured some of the most brutal conditions imaginable, and the alarming lack of access to them by diplomats, concerned citizens, and their families raises serious questions about their health and safety. We call on Vice President Xi to do all he can to ensure their safety and secure their immediate release," said Chairman Smith.

"The impact of the major crackdown that began in February 2011 has amounted to silencing a significant number of China's most outspoken dissidents for years to come," said Cochairman Brown. "Instead of making China more free, China's expanding trade relations through China's membership in the WTO appear to have given China's leaders greater confidence to trample on the rights of its citizens and dash any hopes for democratic reform."

In the past two months, three democracy advocates-Chen Wei, Chen Xi, and Li Tie-received heavy prison sentences, joining a growing list of Chinese citizens sentenced to nine or more years in prison for peaceful political dissent. That list includes 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and democracy advocates Guo Quan, Liu Xianbin, and Xie Changfa. Another democracy advocate, Zhu Yufu, was just sentenced to seven years in prison for pro-democracy activities, including a poem and other writings that allegedly "incite subversion."

Chairman Smith and Cochairman Brown noted at least 20 Tibetan self-immolations reported to have taken place since March 2011, ongoing repression against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and controls on freedom of religion.

"Officials have refused to address the underlying repressive policies against Tibetans' religion, culture, and language that have likely contributed to this unprecedented tragedy. Instead, they reportedly have fired on Tibetan protesters, tightened security even further, and closed off Tibetan areas to the outside world," said Chairman Smith. "Vice President Xi should protect the freedom of religion and spiritual belief of all those in China, whether they be Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, or Falun Gong practitioners."

"Instead of condemning the Dalai Lama, Vice President Xi should recognize that the Dalai Lama remains the best hope for restoring stability to Tibet and guaranteeing the genuine autonomy that is the right of Tibetans," said Cochairman Brown. "Vice President Xi should end discrimination against Uyghurs, allow them to practice their religion freely, and stop the harassment of Rebiya Kadeer, her family, and other peaceful Uyghur activists."

Smith and Brown continued to note troubling signs that call into question China's commitment to commercial rule of law and worker rights.

They noted that the WTO recently decided that Chinese restrictions on raw material exports violate WTO rules. "The WTO decision on raw materials is just further evidence of the Chinese government's willingness to cheat and game the system at the expense of our companies and our workers," said Chairman Smith.

The chairs also observed recent high-profile reports about the Foxconn manufacturing company detailing horrific conditions at Chinese factories, including dangerous work environments, long hours, and low wages. "The reports underscore the need for China to allow workers effective and independent labor representation, and for the Chinese government, domestic Chinese companies, and multinational companies to do much more to improve China's poor worker safety record," said Cochairman Brown.

The Commission's chairs call on Vice President Xi to take the following concrete steps:

  • Release all political prisoners and guarantee all Chinese citizens the freedom of expression, religion, and assembly to which they are entitled under international human rights standards, including Articles 18, 19, and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Amend China's Criminal Law to remove vaguely worded crimes used to punish peaceful political and religious activity and ensure that anticipated revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law do not "legalize" enforced disappearances that put Chinese citizens at risk of torture or abuse.

  • End unfair trading practices, such as currency manipulation, industrial policies, and the use of quotas and subsidies, that are inconsistent with China's commitments to the World Trade Organization and incompatible with the rule of law.

  • Pursue policies that protect the fundamental rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minorities, including their cultural, linguistic, and religious rights, and engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives.

  • Reevaluate China's population planning laws and regulations to bring them into conformity with international standards and cease all coercive measures to implement these policies.

  • Improve conditions for Chinese workers and allow them to organize independent unions.




Source: -See Summary (2012-02-14 ) | Posted on: 2012-02-14  
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Chen Guangcheng, Wife Reportedly Beaten After Release of Video Detailing Official Abuse

March 11, 2011

Authorities reportedly beat rights defender Chen Guangcheng and his wife Yuan Weijing in their home on February 8 and February 18, 2011. The beatings are believed to be in connection to the couple's recording of video footage in which they spoke of official abuse and restrictive control over the family's home and daily life following Chen's release from prison on September 9, 2010. Officials reportedly have not permitted Chen and Yuan to seek medical care for their injuries. Foreign journalists and a "netizen" who attempted to visit Chen's village in recent weeks reported encountering "groups of violent, plainclothes thugs." Police also reportedly detained several lawyers and rights defenders in Beijing after they met to discuss Chen's case.

Officials Beat Chen Guangcheng and Yuan Weijing

On the evening of February 8, 2011, security officials from Linyi city, Shandong province, and Shuanghou township, Yinan county, Shandong province, reportedly beat self-trained legal advocate Chen Guangcheng and his wife Yuan Weijing, according to a February 10 China Aid Association (CAA) report. The report cited an unnamed source and indicated that the exact time of the beatings was still being confirmed. According to the report, officials may have denied Chen and Yuan access to medical care following the February 8 beatings. On February 18, officials reportedly broke into the family's home and for the second time beat Chen Guangcheng and Yuan Weijing and searched through their belongings, according to a February 21 China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group report. Officials reportedly beat Yuan about the face and head. The two reported beatings followed the couple's covert recording of video footage in which they described the official surveillance, intimidation, harassment, and abuse their family has endured since Chen's release from prison after serving his full sentence on September 9, 2010. (CAA released part 1 of the video on its Web site on February 9, and parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 via Youtube.)

Smuggled Video Depicts Harsh Official Treatment

The hour-long video, recorded in secret and smuggled out of the family's home, contains footage of Chen Guangcheng and Yuan Weijing describing the restrictive conditions the family endures under "soft detention" (ruanjin). According to Chen and Yuan, authorities have employed the following measures to exert control over the family:

  • Tightened surveillance. Authorities reportedly assigned three teams of 22 security personnel to keep watch over the family home. Officials also reportedly installed additional surveillance devices, including floodlights around the family's home that are removed from sight during the daytime, and surveillance cameras trained on their home and nearby street intersections.


  • Restricted access to communication channels. Authorities reportedly cut off Internet and telephone access in the home and installed equipment in neighboring homes to block the family's cell phone signal.


  • Restricted movement and access to basic supplies. Officials reportedly place a lock on the family's door at night to prevent them from escaping while those charged with guarding them sleep on the front stoop. Chen said officials have not permitted anyone to enter or leave the home, except for his 76-year-old mother, whom Yuan describes as in poor health. The family, therefore, has limited ability to purchase food and supplies and relies on home-grown produce.


  • Restrictions involving the couple's children. When Chen and Yuan's young son, Chen Kerui, accidentally injured himself with a kitchen knife while staying at Yuan's parents' home, officials did not permit the couple to visit him in the hospital. In addition, their young daughter, Chen Kesi, reportedly has encountered difficulty attending school.


  • Prohibited access to medical care. Officials reportedly have prevented Chen Guangcheng from seeking medical care for recurring diarrhea. According to a Chinese Human Rights Defenders report (January 14, 2009) quoting Yuan, Chen developed the ailment while in prison in July 2008 and has since become emaciated and frail.


  • Restricted privacy. Officials illegally enter the home at will, without notice. Yuan described one instance in which security personnel even followed family members into the restroom.

The couple expressed concern in the video for the treatment they would face in the future. Chen said that, following the video's release, he is prepared for the possibility of officials treating him as they have treated human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, whose whereabouts remain unknown after his second disappearance in April 2010. Yuan Weijing referred to officials' claims that if the couple remained incompliant, they would treat them "more brutally than in 2005 and 2006." In the video footage, Yuan asked friends to look after their children should something befall the couple.

Foreign Journalists and Supporters of Chen Encounter Police Abuse

Foreign journalists attempting to access Chen "encountered groups of violent, plainclothes thugs" in the dozens who blocked all entrances to the village, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) said in a February 17 warning on reporting Chen's case. The FCCC said journalists from the New York Times, CNN, Le Monde, Radio France Internationale, and Le Nouvel Observateur were roughed up, threatened with bricks, or had equipment seized or destroyed. CNN released a video on February 16 showing the men pushing one reporter and throwing rocks at the CNN team and their vehicle as they fled the scene. In a February 19 report, the New York Times said that one of the men responded to a question about the legal authority of their actions by saying, "This has nothing to do with law." The FCCC said that journalists notified local police about the situation but received no assistance. Security officials also beat "netizen" Gao Xingbo after he entered Chen's village, according to a February 15 CAA report. Human Rights in China (HRIC) reported on February 16 that police beat and detained Beijing-based lawyer Jiang Tianyong after he met with a group of lawyers, news reporters, and rights defenders to discuss possibilities for assisting Chen Guangcheng. According to HRIC, police also detained lawyer Tang Jitian at his home after attending the meeting and confiscated recorded video of the meeting from the home of another attendee. Police reportedly barred several other lawyers and rights advocates, including Xu Zhiyong, Li Xiongbing, Li Heping, Wang Lihong, Mo Zhixu, Chen Tianshi, and Liu Di from attending the meeting. According to a February 21 Huffington Post report, Tang Jitian's whereabouts remain unknown.

Background on Chen Guangcheng

In 1996, Chen Guangcheng began defending the rights of disabled peasants and providing legal advice as a self-trained legal advocate focusing on antidiscrimination. Over the next decade, his legal advocacy was recognized in China and internationally. In 2005, Chen's rights defense work drew international news media attention to population planning abuses in Linyi city, Shandong province. Local authorities placed Chen under house arrest in September 2005 and formally arrested him in June 2006. The Yinan County People's Court first tried and sentenced Chen in August 2006 to four years and three months in prison for "intentional destruction of property" and "organizing a group of people to disturb traffic order." His defense lawyers were taken into custody on the eve of his trial. The Yinan court retried the case in November 2006 and upheld the first judgment. Chen's retrial prompted repeated criticism for its criminal procedure violations. In June 2007, Chen reportedly informed his wife and brother that he had been beaten by fellow inmates, according to a June 21 Chinese Human Rights Defenders report. In August 2007, Yuan Weijing attempted to travel to the Philippines to accept the Ramon Magsaysay award on behalf of Chen, but Chinese authorities intercepted her before leaving the country and forcibly returned her to her village, according to an August 25, 2007, Washington Post report. During the period of Chen's imprisonment, authorities also repeatedly subjected Yuan and their two children to harassment, home confinement, surveillance, and other abuses, according to reports from journalist and blogger Wang Keqin (March 14, 2009), Amnesty International (April 20, 2009), and Radio Free Asia (April 22, 2009), as well as the testimony of Jerome A. Cohen, Professor of Law and Co-Director , US-Asia Law Institute, New York University, at an August 3, 2010, Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing.

Previous coverage of Chen Guangcheng's case can be found online via the CECC's Virtual Academy. For additional information on Chen and China's population planning policy, see Section II—Population Planning in the CECC 2010 Annual Report. For more information on Chinese official detention, harassment, and abuse of lawyers, see Section II—Criminal Justice and Section III—Access to Justice in the CECC 2010 Annual Report. For more information on freedom of the press in China, see Section II—Freedom of Expression in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-02-22 / English) | Posted on: 2011-12-21  
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Leaders of Bipartisan Commission Call on China To Release Human Rights Lawyer, Chen Guangcheng

November 1, 2011

The Chairman and Cochairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China today issued the following joint statement calling for updated information on prominent human rights defender Chen Guangcheng’s condition and calling for Chen’s long overdue release. “It is very troubling to know that for six years, Chen Guangcheng has repeatedly encountered abuse and surveillance from Chinese officials. Recent reports in international media have shown that those who have attempted to visit him have been met with physical attacks and harassment. This and the government’s attempts to deter people from voicing their support for him online are deplorable," said New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith who chairs the Commission.

“The increasing inability to obtain any verified information about Chen’s status has led many to believe that the conditions and treatment for Chen and his wife, Yuan Weijing, who have already endured inexplicably harsh conditions, may actually have gotten worse—if that is possible. The Chinese authorities have gone into overdrive using every restrictive control in their attempt to silence Chen and Yuan. We are gravely concerned about Chen’s status and urge Chinese officials to not only provide the proof that neither he nor his family have been harmed but also set them free. The continued lack of information about their well-being must end,” Smith said.

“We are extremely concerned about the conditions under which Chen Guangcheng and his family are being held by the government. We are also aware of reports indicating that government officials are building a separate facility outside the family’s home, and that they plan to move Chen and his wife into this facility soon for enhanced security. We are especially concerned about the effect this control is having on the entire family, including Chen and Yuan’s young daughter. We join Chinese citizens in demanding immediate transparency and explanation from the Chinese government regarding his case,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, the Cochairman of the Commission.

“In light of the stonewalling on information about Chen and Yuan, as well as the mistreatment they have already suffered, we urge the Chinese government to release Chen Guangcheng and his family from extralegal detention in their home and allow journalists and others to visit them freely,” the U.S. lawmakers said.

In 2005, legal advocate Chen Guangcheng drew international news media attention to population planning abuses in Linyi city, Shandong province. He has also advocated on behalf of farmers, the disabled, and other groups. Local authorities placed Chen under “house arrest” in September 2005 and formally arrested him in June 2006. Following a trial and retrial which prompted repeated criticism for procedural violations, Chen served four years and three months in prison on charges of “intentional destruction of property” and “organizing a group of people to disturb traffic order.”

Authorities released Chen on September 9, 2010, after he completed his sentence, but have continued to extralegally confine him in his home in Dongshigu village outside of Linyi. Since February 2011, reports have emerged indicating that Chen and his wife, Yuan Weijing, have been beaten, locked inside their home, and subjected to round-the-clock surveillance by local public security personnel. Authorities reportedly had also prevented their young daughter from attending primary school until recently. Chen reportedly continues to suffer from an intestinal illness that he contracted while in prison, but has not been permitted to seek medical treatment for it.



Source: -See Summary (2011-11-01 ) | Posted on: 2011-11-01 more ...
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County Court Convicts Monks of Intentional Homicide for Sheltering Self-Immolation Monk

October 18, 2011


On August 29 and 30, 2011, a county-level court in a Tibetan autonomous area of Sichuan province sentenced three monks to prison terms of 10, 11, and 13 years on charges of "intentional homicide" (PRC Criminal Law, Article 232) in connection with the March 16, 2011, self-immolation of a Kirti Monastery monk, China's state-run media reported. International media and advocacy group reports described the sentenced monks' intentions toward the severely burned monk in terms of rescue, protection, and shelter. If official reports are accurate in that the Ma'erkang County People's Court sentenced the monks, then it appears to be a violation of Article 20 of the PRC Criminal Procedure Law, which requires intermediate level courts to hear trials on criminal charges punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty—a category that includes "intentional homicide." A fourth monk faced charges linked to the incident but had not been sentenced as of October 18, 2011. For more information on the aftermath of the self-immolation at Kirti Monastery, located in Aba (Ngaba) county, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (T&QAP), see an August 17 CECC analysis.

According to an official media report (Xinhua, 29 August 11, reprinted in China Daily), on August 29 the Ma'erkang (Barkham) County People's Court, located in the capital of Aba prefecture, sentenced a Kirti monk named "Drongdru" to 11 years' imprisonment for "intentional homicide" because he allegedly "hid the injured monk and prevented emergency treatment." The verdict, according to the report, asserted that an 11-hour delay in providing emergency medical treatment caused the death of Rigzin Phuntsog (or Phuntsog, according to international media and advocacy group reports). None of the official reports observed by the Commission provided information about evidence proving that Drongdru intended to murder Phuntsog. International media and advocacy groups citing local sources reported in March that when security officials arrived and extinguished the flames burning Phuntsog, they kicked, beat, and threw objects at him (Phayul, 16 March 11; Radio Free Asia (RFA), 17 March 11; International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), 17 March 11). Reports described the intent of Kirti monks and other Tibetans who took the severely injured monk back to the monastery in terms of rescue (RFA, 16 March 11), protection (Phayul, 16 March 11), and shelter (ICT, 11 April 11). The August 29 Xinhua report did not provide information about the legal proceedings against Drongdru or his access to legal counsel, but asserted that he pleaded guilty and would not appeal the verdict.

On August 30, the same county-level court sentenced monks referred to as "Tsering Tenzin" and "Tenchum" to 13 years and 10 years in prison respectively for the "intentional homicide" of Phuntsog (Xinhua, 31 August 11, reprinted in China Daily). According to the report, the court found that the two monks "plotted, instigated and assisted in the self-immolation" of Phuntsog. The same article noted that a fourth monk, "Dorje," would also face criminal prosecution linked to Phuntsog's death. The report provided no information on the evidence against Tsering Tenzin and Tenchum, the legal proceedings against them, or their access to legal counsel, but alleged that both monks had "confessed their guilt." According to an advocacy group report (ICT, 31 August 11), after security officials detained the two monks in March, authorities did not inform their families of their whereabouts or the legal proceedings against them until August 28—two days prior to sentencing. The ICT report did not use the names "Tsering Tenzin" or "Tenchum" and stated that both monks have the same name: "Losang Tenzin" (or Lobsang Tenzin). The families "were given no opportunity" to retain a defense lawyer, the report said, but it is not clear what, if anything, a newly retained lawyer could have accomplished two days prior to sentencing. RFA (30 August 11) referred to the monk sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment as "Tenzin Gyamo-Kha" (instead of Tsering Tenzin) and reported that he "rejected the charges."

According to PRC law, the trials of the monks on charges of "intentional homicide" should not have been heard before a county-level court—instead, the trial should have been heard before the Aba T&QAP Intermediate People's Court. Article 20(2) of the Criminal Procedure Law states, "The Intermediate People's Courts shall have jurisdiction as courts of first instance over . . . ordinary criminal cases punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty." Article 232 of the Criminal Law states, "Whoever intentionally commits homicide shall be sentenced to death, life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years; if the circumstances are relatively minor, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 3 years but not more than 10 years." Official media reports have provided no information on why trials on charges punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment were heard before a county-level court. An additional unusual aspect of the trials is that the county court that reportedly tried the cases was not the county court with jurisdiction over the site where the alleged crimes were committed: Kirti Monastery is in Aba, not Ma'erkang, county. The Ma'erkang County People's Court is located in the prefectural capital, along with the Aba T&QAP Intermediate People's Court.

China's state-run media and international media and advocacy groups have provided varying names for the three monks, including those listed below.
  • Drongdru, sentenced on August 29 to 11 years' imprisonment (Xinhua, 29 August 11, reprinted in China Daily): possibly Zhongzhou (Xinhua, 22 April 11, translated in OSC, 24 April 11); Lobsang Tsondru (RFA, 29 August 11); Tsundue (Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), 29 August 11).
  • Tsering Tenzin, sentenced on August 30 to 13 years' imprisonment (Xinhua, 31 August 11, reprinted in China Daily): possibly Zerang Zhade (Xinhua, 22 April 11, translated in OSC, 24 April 11); Lobsang Tenzin and Tsering Gyamo-kha (RFA, 30 August 11); Tsering Tamding (TCHRD, 30 August 11).
  • Tenchum, sentenced on August 30 to 10 years' imprisonment (Xinhua, 31 August 11, reprinted in China Daily): possibly Ladan (Xinhua, 22 April 11, translated in OSC, 24 April 11); Lobsang Tenzin and Nagten (RFA, 30 August 11); Tenzin (TCHRD, 30 August 11). RFA, like ICT (31 August 11), reported that both monks sentenced on August 30 are named Lobsang Tenzin. A conflated form of Lobsang Tenzin can be "Loten," similar to "Ladan."
For more information on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in China, see a previous CECC analysis titled "Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations Taking Effect in Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures." See sections on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in the Commission's 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Annual Reports.


Source: -See Summary (2011-08-27 ) | Posted on: 2011-10-18  
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State Council Opinion Bolsters Grazing Ban, Herder Resettlement

October 18, 2011

A new government opinion bolsters longstanding grazing bans on China's grasslands, with a stated goal of improving the environment, and promotes the continued resettlement of herders. The opinion applies to grasslands areas and herding communities throughout China, including several ethnic minority groups such as Mongols, Tibetans, and Kazakhs. Observers have questioned the effectiveness of government grasslands policies in ameliorating environmental degradation and have raised concern about their impact on the rights of herders. The new opinion outlines target dates for meeting environmental and resettlement goals. It follows implementation earlier in the year of a government program to provide subsidies for herders who abide by grazing bans. The opinion also comes after demonstrations in Inner Mongolia in May by Mongols protesting government policies toward grasslands. The opinion calls for promoting the "ethnic culture" of herders, but the impact of this measure remains unclear amid the opinion's broader policy aims.

The State Council has issued an opinion on the development of pastoral areas that bolsters longstanding grazing bans and the resettlement of herders, policies that have drawn concern over the efficacy of their stated environmental aims and for their impact on herding communities, including several ethnic minority groups. The State Council Opinions on Promoting Sound and Fast Development of Pastoral Areas (Opinion), issued in June 2011 but apparently only made public in early August, stresses the importance of the grasslands-related measures for purposes including environmental protection and ecological security; changing modes of animal husbandry on grasslands and increasing herders' incomes; closing gaps in development among regions in China and meeting the goals of realizing a "well-off society" (xiaokang shehui); and "promoting ethnic unity and border stability" (Item 1). The June Opinion follows implementation of a new system in 2011 to bolster grazing bans and provide new subsidies and awards to herders who abide by government directives on grasslands use.

The June Opinion emphasizes the urgency of environmental protection measures. According to the Opinion, the environmental state of grasslands—which comprise over 40 percent of China's territory—remains severe, with "a trend of overall worsening grasslands ecology yet to be fundamentally curbed" (Items 1, 2). The Opinion sets 2015 as a target for curbing a worsening ecosystem and 2020 as the target for achieving a healthy state of the environment and a balance between grasslands and livestock (Item 6). It promotes grazing bans (e.g., Items 7, 11), calls for "gradually promoting" a three-way system of grazing bans, laying fields fallow, and rotating fields, and promotes measures such as decreasing the amount of livestock and erecting fences (Item 11) as means for meeting these goals. It promotes subsidies and awards for herders who abide by directives on grasslands use (Item 9) and calls for "promptly redressing" violations of grazing bans (Item 10).

The Opinion continues longstanding policies (see analysis) to address grasslands degradation through grazing bans and other measures. As noted in the analysis, outside observers and some domestic scholars have questioned the effectiveness of these government policies in ameliorating environmental degradation. At a 2005 Congressional-Executive Commission on China Roundtable titled China's Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law: Does it Protect Minority Rights?, scholar Christopher Atwood stated in his written testimony, "What is beyond doubt is that the almost twenty years of state-directed and scientifically managed programs to alleviate grasslands degradation have not worked and indeed may well have accelerated desertification."

The June Opinion also stresses economic goals, raising questions about the extent to which economic aims may trump long-term environmental protection. Item 17 of the Opinion promotes industry investment and using mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to promote economic cooperation with neighboring countries. A recently reported grazing ban from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region underscores some of the potential economic motives in grazing bans. A recent report from Xinhua (via Sohu, August 2) described the problem of tourists confronting animal feces as one impetus for a grazing ban at a tourist site containing grasslands.

The Opinion continues to promote the resettlement of herders, a policy that has drawn criticism for its impact on the rights of herding communities, including ethnic minority nomadic pastoralists with cultural ties to grasslands. The Opinion calls for "hastening implementation" of resettlement projects for nomadic herders, "basically completing" responsibilities in this area by 2015 (Items 6, 21). It also promotes herders' change in modes of production and change of occupation, along with an "orderly, organized labor export of herders" (Item 19). In addition, the Opinion calls for poverty alleviation and infrastructure improvement for herding communities and steps to promote herders' "material and cultural standard of living," along with "ethnic culture" and "grasslands culture." (Items 5, 16, 23). Authorities describe the promotion of ethnic culture as part of steps to promote the "superior industries" of grasslands areas, however, and it is unclear to what extent authorities can protect herding communities' rights, including the right to culture, while enforcing resettlement and other policy aims. An earlier statement by an official in Xilingol League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, appeared to acknowledge the threat that resettlement presents to cultural preservation, at the same time as detailing resettlement measures that appear unlikely to promote broad cultural preservation. While describing plans to resettle at least 100,000 herders away from grasslands, the official noted, "A lot of people worry that, if the herder population is moved out, will the culture of pastoral areas be retained? This is still a necessary concern. In the future, Xilingol League's pastoral areas will retain 50,000 herders, and these herders will retain the traditional characteristics of the grassland culture...." See a November 6, 2010, Xinhua report.

As noted in the earlier CECC analysis, human rights organizations have expressed concern about the impact of grasslands policies on the protection of herders' rights and have described cases of forced resettlement, inadequate compensation, minimal recourse for grievances, and poor living conditions for affected communities. Some herders have mounted protests against grasslands policies. In May, Mongols in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region protested government policy toward grasslands use and broader curbs on Mongol culture, following two reported confrontations between grasslands residents and mining operations that resulted in the murders of the grasslands residents. Authorities and official media acknowledged some of the protesters' concerns but did not address broader grievances over official curbs on Mongol culture. The June Opinion calls for prosecuting "misuse" and "destruction" of grasslands as part of measures to increase grasslands "management and supervision," but does not define these acts (Item 10). It also promotes continued resource extraction on grasslands (Item 16).

For more information on conditions for herding communities in China, see Section II—Ethnic Minorities, Section II—The Environment, Section IV—Xinjiang, and Section V—Tibet in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2011-08-25 ) | Posted on: 2011-10-18  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on the Release of the 2011 Annual Report

October 13, 2011

The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China released its 2011 Annual Report on human rights and rule of law developments in China this week.

"In the areas of human rights and rule of law this year, China's leaders have grown more aggressive in their violation of rights, disregarding the very laws and international standards that they claim to uphold," said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ–04), Chairman of the Commission, and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), Cochairman of the Commission.

The report found that Chinese officials ignored the law or used the law as a tool to repress human rights, stifle dissent, and unfairly subsidize Chinese industry.

"This year saw one of the harshest crackdowns on dissidents in recent memory. Chinese officials simply ignored their own laws and international standards to round up, disappear, and detain numerous human rights activists, artists, and lawyers," said Smith. "Chinese officials also continued to implement its reprehensible population control policy through the use of violence, forced abortion, and sterilization in flagrant disregard for human rights and the rule of law. China's implementation of their one-child-per-couple policy remains one of the most brutal and barbaric attacks against women and children—ever," Smith added.

"As this report shows, China continued to engage in egregious trading practices that place our workers at an unfair disadvantage and which violate China's commitments to the World Trade Organization," Brown said. "These practices include industrial policies and subsidies to protect Chinese companies and exports. We must demand a level playing field where China abides by the rule of law and its international commitments."

The report notes that the Chinese government continued to deny Chinese citizens basic freedoms guaranteed under both Chinese law and international human rights standards, including freedom of expression. The report cited the jailing of Chinese citizens who criticized the government and heavy censorship of the Internet and press.

"It is fitting that this report comes out on the one year anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Liu is languishing in a jail in China, serving an 11-year sentence for peacefully exercising his right to free expression by writing about and advocating for democratic reforms," Brown said.

"Liu’s case, and the cases of numerous other political prisoners cited in the report, including missing activist Gao Zhisheng, illustrate in stark terms what happens to Chinese citizens who dare to speak out against injustice and corruption," Smith added.

The report found that Chinese officials also continued to deny citizens the freedoms of religion and association.

"Chinese authorities continue to persecute religious people who practiced their faith outside of state control, including Protestant house church members, underground Catholics, and Falun Gong members," Smith said.

"The Chinese government continues to deny workers their right to organize independent unions and to demand a fair wage and better working conditions," Brown said.

The report notes that China's ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs and Tibetans, remain under threat as Chinese authorities imposed harsh curbs on their cultures, languages, and religions.

The CECC's 2011 Annual Report is the Commission's 10th annual report since it was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the debate over granting China permanent, normal trade relations.

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. Political prisoners cited in the 2011 report include Catholic bishop Su Zhimin, labor activist Zhao Dongmin, democracy activist Liu Xianbin, Uyghur journalist Memetjan Abdulla, former Tibetan monk Jigme Gyatso, and Mongol activist Hada.

All of the Commission's reporting and its Political Prisoner Database are available to the public online via the Commission's Web site, www.cecc.gov


Source: -See Summary (2011-10-13 ) | Posted on: 2011-10-13  
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Xinjiang Authorities Implement Ramadan Curbs Amid Renewed Pledges for Tight Controls Over Religion

October 11, 2011

Authorities in Xinjiang have continued to exert tight controls over the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which occurred this year in August. During the month-long period of daily fasting, local government authorities prohibited students, teachers, and government workers from observing the fast, ordered restaurants to stay open, and increased oversight of mosques and religious personnel. Xinjiang officials have enforced similar restrictions in previous years. The curbs in 2011 also came amid a renewed pledge by Xinjiang authorities to crack down on "illegal religious activities."

Authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have continued to exert tight controls over the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Directives from local governments throughout the region indicate that during the month-long period of daily fasting, authorities prohibited students, teachers, and government workers from observing the fast, ordered restaurants to stay open, and increased oversight of mosques and religious personnel. The Ramadan curbs follow similar controls in place in previous years, as documented by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (1, 2, 3).

The curbs also came amid a renewed pledge by XUAR authorities to "strike hard" against "illegal religious activities." At an August 5 meeting, XUAR Communist Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian called for "resolutely curbing illegal religious activities," as well as attacking "using religion to instigate and implement violent terrorist activities." See an August 7 Tianshan Net report and Xinhua report, via People's Daily, August 9. The XUAR Public Security Department launched a two-month "strike hard" anti-terrorism campaign later in the month that includes "illegal religious activities" and "religious extremism" as targets. See, e.g., a Xinjiang Legal Daily report, via Xinjiang Peace Net, August 15. The heightened controls follow incidents in Kashgar and Hoten municipalities in July that authorities and official media described as terrorist attacks. See official reporting of the incidents from the Kashgar Municipal People's Government, August 1, and China News Service, July 20, via Open Source Center, CPP20110720075001. For overseas reports, including reported information from witnesses and local sources that contradicts official Chinese reporting of events in Hoten, see, e.g., Radio Free Asia, July 18 and July 19; World Uyghur Congress, July 19; Associated Press, via Times of India, July 20; and Washington Post, August 1. See a previous CECC analysis for background on Chinese government reporting on terrorist activity and see Section II—Freedom of Expression and Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2010 Annual Report for information on curbs on free press that have hindered efforts to gather information on reported terrorist attacks in the XUAR.

As noted in the CECC 2010 Annual Report, Chinese authorities have long claimed "religious extremism" and "illegal religious activities" as threats to security in the XUAR. They define such terms to encompass religious practices, group affiliations, and viewpoints protected under international human rights guarantees for freedom of religion. Authorities have labeled religious education for children and private religious classes outside of government control as "illegal" activities, for example, and have carried out campaigns against clothing and attire, such as veils, deemed to reflect "extreme" forms of religion. (See, e.g., previous CECC analyses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) As authorities continue to target "illegal religious activities" and "extremism," recent curbs instituted during Ramadan include:
  • Students, Teachers Forbidden from Fasting. As XUAR authorities continue to enforce harsh controls over children's freedom of religion, including curbs unseen elsewhere in China, local authorities have described a range of steps to prevent children from observing Ramadan and from participating in other religious activities. "Indulging" or "letting students alone" to fast during Ramadan is among 23 acts defined as "illegal religious activities" in the XUAR. (See Item 5 in a copy of the "Autonomous Region Definitions of 23 Types of Illegal Religious Activities," via the Chinggil (Qinghe) county, Altay district, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, government Web site, posted February 25, 2008.) Authorities also have applied curbs to teachers.

    Authorities in Toghraqliq township, Qiemo (Cherchen) county, Bayingol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, convened an "ideological education meeting" for students and teachers ahead of Ramadan and called on teachers to regularly visit students' homes and understand their "ideological state," to ensure no students under 18 enter mosques, and to strictly prohibit fasting, according to an August 4 report on the Qiemo County Government Web site (cached). Authorities also called on students to take part in a campaign called "little hands guiding big hands," whereby students convey Party policy to their parents and "contribute their strength" to the township's "social and political stability." Authorities in Mandanbulaq township, Jinghe (Jing) county, Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, visited local elementary schools in advance of the holiday and called for "leading" students not to "participate in religious activities, such as Ramadan and religious services," according to a June 30 report on the Bortala Government Web site. In Bole (Bortala) municipality, Bortala, authorities called for carrying out "propaganda and education" toward Muslim students and for "resolutely stopping" the phenomenon of minor-age Muslim students entering mosques, according to a July 20 report on the Bortala Government Web site. An elementary school in Mekit county, Kashgar district, described plans for holding a meeting to "mobilize" teachers, staff, and students not to fast, according to an August 5 report on the Mekit County Government Web site. (Original link redirects to incorrect site. See a reprint via Uyghur Online.) Authorities also noted plans to carry out education in atheism, according to the report. Authorities in Yengiyer township, Yengisar county, Kashgar district, called for teachers to visit students' homes during Ramadan to convey state policy and provide information on the "harms" of fasting, according to an August 4 report on the Yengisar County Government Web site. They also called for "resolutely examining and putting a stop to" students and teachers participating in "unlawful activities" such as fasting, entering religious venues, and participating in "underground scripture study sites."

  • Government Workers Barred From Observing Holiday. Authorities have continued to forbid government employees from observing Ramadan, in some cases also imposing curbs on their family members. Authorities at the Yutian (Keriye) County Agricultural Bureau, Hoten district, called for each work unit to strengthen "management" of bureau staff and retired workers and to guarantee they "don't believe in religion, attend religious activities, or fast," according to an August 3 report on the Agricultural Bureau's Web site. They also called for ensuring family members do not "engage in, join, or participate" in "illegal religious activities," participate in "underground scripture study sites," or fast during Ramadan. Authorities also called for work units to send cadres to mosques every day during Ramadan to inspect certain prayer times. At a meeting on upholding stability and safety, the Kashgar District Meteorology Bureau called on all Bureau cadres and staff, "especially Party member cadres," to stress "science" and "civilization," and not join in religious activities like Ramadan, according to an August 4 report on the XUAR Meteorology Bureau Web site. The Kashgar District Agricultural Bureau called for holding "education in atheism" during Ramadan for cadres in the district's bureaus, according to an August 3 report on the Xinjiang Agricultural Department Web site. Authorities in Urumqi reportedly told officials there not to observe the fast in order to preserve their health for work needs, according to a July 28 Radio Free Asia article. The article also reported orders barring Party members and their families from observing Ramadan or going to mosques.

  • Orders for Restaurants To Stay Open. Some local governments have ordered or pressured restaurants to continue operations during Ramadan, a period when some eating establishments traditionally close during the day. In Jiashi (Peyziwat) county, Kashgar, authorities reported they would inspect restaurants to ensure the "political stability of the county" during Ramadan and not permit "any restaurant to stop operations for any reason," according to a July 28 report on the Jiashi County Government Web site. In Oyyaylaq township, Qiemo, Bayingol, officials reported they would send inspection teams to restaurants and "deal in accordance with regulations" with any eating establishment that closed "without cause," while "severely dealing with" anyone who "forced" others to close, according to an August 5 report on the Qiemo County Government Web site (cached, apparently updated August 10). Authorities in Zepu (Poskam) county, Kashgar, convened a "mobilization meeting" on the "normal operations" for the restaurant industry during Ramadan, according to a July 28 article (cached) on the Zepu County Government Web site. The county head "encouraged" (guli) ethnic minority-run restaurants to continue "normal operations" during Ramadan, pledged tax breaks for restaurants that stayed open, and said authorities would shut down restaurants that "operated irregularly without cause" during Ramadan and revoke their licenses for one year. A September 11 Los Angeles Times report from Kashgar said that local directives led restaurants to make "token gestures" to stay open.

  • Increased Controls Over Mosques and Religious Personnel. Local authorities have described taking a range of measures to increase supervision of mosques and religious personnel during Ramadan. In Wassheri township, Ruoqiang (Chaqiliq) county, Bayingol, township authorities held a meeting for religious personnel in advance of Ramadan and called on them to convey "propaganda and education" to religious believers, told them to help the Party and government convey the "real truth" and "essence" of the reported attack in Hoten in July, and called on them to maintain vigilance over their own conduct and over religious venues, according to a July 29 report on the Ruoqiang County Government Web site. Authorities also told religious personnel they were responsible for "dissuading" (quanzu) any students, teachers, or Party members found to be fasting and told religious leaders they would be "severely dealt with" if found "inciting" a student to fast. Authorities in Tatirang township, Qiemo, described promoting a range of measures to strengthen control over religious personnel and venues, according to an August 5 report on the Qiemo County Government Web site (cached). Measures included "seriously implementing" a system of fixed contact with religious venues and a system of "chatting and making friends" with religious personnel; strengthening a system of legal responsibility for religious venues; enhancing training of religious personnel; and taking "effective measures" to stop "illegal activities" such as "underground scripture studies," taking on private religious students, and organizing religious activities that go beyond the locality.
For more information on conditions in the XUAR and controls over religion, see Section II—Freedom of Religion and Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.


Source: -See Summary (2011-08-08 / English / Free) | Posted on: 2011-10-11  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on Uyghurs Forcibly Returned to China

August 31, 2011

The chairman and cochairman of a US bipartisan, bicameral commission charged with monitoring human rights in China today called on Chinese authorities to reveal the whereabouts and status of 11 Uyghur men who were forcibly deported from Malaysia to the People's Republic of China on August 18, in violation of international law.

The American lawmakers also strongly urged Malaysian authorities not to deport the five Uyghur asylum seekers who were arrested and remain in Malaysian custody.

"Forced returns of Uyghurs to China reflect a blatant disregard for international law, not only by the countries deporting Uyghurs, but by the Chinese government, which is complicit in their return and responsible for egregious rights abuses within its borders," said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), the chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC).

"This most recent incident follows other cases in the past year of Uyghurs returned to China under the sway of Chinese influence in nearby countries. They come as China has increased its economic and political reach throughout Asia, concluding large trade deals or aid packages with countries that have deported Uyghur refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants," said Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) cochair of the commission.

"Tragically, the deported Uyghur men face the real threat of torture, arbitrary detention, and abuse back in China," Brown said. "The Chinese government has long waged a harsh campaign of suppression in Xinjiang that violates international law and it appears to have conscripted its neighbors to help carry out its oppressive policies. These are deliberate, intentional acts and part of a broader set of policies that threaten the Uyghur culture, religion, and language."

"The Chinese government claims compliance with international law, but its actions speak louder than its words. The Chinese government must end its oppressive policies toward the Uyghurs, stop enlisting its neighbors in its campaigns of suppression, respect the asylum seeker and refugee designations of the UNHCR, and ensure the fundamental rights and freedoms of all its citizens," Smith said.

Malaysian authorities arrested the group of 16 Uyghurs on August 6. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Kuala Lumpur said that Malaysian authorities did not allow the UNHCR access to any members of the group. The five who remain in Malaysian custody have formally sought asylum with the UNHCR. Information on asylum claims by other members of the group remains unclear. Malaysian authorities allege that all members of the group were involved in a human trafficking ring, charges that do not preclude access to UNHCR procedures or permit deportation to China.

International law mandates that asylum seekers receive a determination of their refugee status and forbids returning any person to a country where she or he faces risk of torture. As documented by the CECC in its Annual Reports, torture and abuse by law enforcement officers remain widespread in China.

The two US lawmakers noted that on August 8, authorities in Pakistan forcibly returned five Uyghurs, including two children, to China. On August 6, authorities in Thailand detained a Uyghur man, Nur Muhammed, and turned him over to Chinese authorities in Bangkok.

CECC Annual Reports have noted worsening human rights conditions in Xinjiang in recent years, as authorities have increased oppressive security campaigns and cracked down on peaceful dissent and independent expressions of Uyghur cultural and religious identity.


Source: -See Summary (2011-08-31 ) | Posted on: 2011-08-31  
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Statement of CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown on Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

August 22, 2011

CECC Chairman Christopher Smith and Cochairman Sherrod Brown call on Chinese authorities to immediately account for and free China's most famous human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng.

"China's shocking treatment of Mr. Gao is unconscionable and cannot be reconciled with China's desire for international respect and recognition," said Commission Chairman Representative Chris Smith. "It has now been five years since authorities abducted Mr. Gao on August 15, 2006, escalating their brutal repression of Gao and his family. Since then Mr. Gao has been tortured, threatened with death, sentenced to prison, and forcibly 'disappeared,'" Smith said.

"Mr. Gao has been missing in China since April 2010, with no word as to his health or whereabouts. His wife and two children have fled to the United States. Mr. Gao's life is clearly in danger, and the conspicuous silence only raises more questions about his fate," said Commission Cochairman Senator Sherrod Brown. "These are not the acts of a country based on the rule of law. The Chinese government wants a seat at the table of world powers, but its repression of human rights cannot be tolerated. We cannot turn a blind eye to its brutal repression of those who seek universal rights of freedom and justice."

Under both Chinese and international law, China is obligated to assure Mr. Gao's safety, free him immediately, and let him resume his important work of defending the rights of his fellow citizens.

The Chinese government initially praised the self-trained Gao as one of the country's top lawyers. But he angered authorities when he used the law to defend China's oppressed. A Christian house church member, Mr. Gao represented fellow Christians accused of "illegally" distributing Bibles and reported on government raids of house churches. In a high-profile labor case, Mr. Gao bravely defended workers detained for protesting low wages and poor working conditions. He also documented the torture and abuse of Falun Gong practitioners. In addition, Mr. Gao has advocated on behalf of victims of land expropriation and those harmed by China's population planning policy.

In response, authorities revoked Mr. Gao's law license in 2005. In 2006, they sentenced Mr. Gao to three years in prison on trumped-up "inciting subversion" charges. Authorities suspended the sentence for five years, but their harassment and abuse only worsened.

After Mr. Gao wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress in 2007 criticizing China's human rights record and hosting of the Olympics, authorities abducted and brutally tortured him for 50 days. Officials reportedly beat him with electric prods, abused him with toothpicks and threatened to kill him if he told anyone of his treatment. Mr. Gao later "disappeared" into official custody, resurfaced briefly in early 2010, and has been missing since April 2010.

"Mr. Gao's plight reflects the dire state of human rights lawyers and activists in China today," said Chairman Smith. "Since the beginning of this year, Chinese officials have launched a major assault on the country's vocal community of rights defenders and activists."

Cochairman Brown added, "The more recent crackdown has defied Chinese and international law. Numerous citizens have been detained, forcibly disappeared, and subjected to every form of abuse and harassment."

Smith and Brown noted that the victims include prominent artist Ai Weiwei, writer and activist Ran Yunfei, democracy activist Zhu Yufu, and rights defense lawyer Ni Yulan. They pointed out that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has spoken out against China's abuses as violating international law. Recently, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared Gao's detention to be arbitrary and has demanded his release. They also declared that the imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and house arrest of his wife Liu Xia violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In addition to urging for Gao's immediate release, Chairman Smith and Cochairman Brown reiterated their call on the Chinese government to "immediately cease its crackdown on rights activists and religious people, to free all political prisoners, and to protect Chinese citizens' fundamental rights to freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, and right to be free from arbitrary detention."

Representative Christopher Smith was recently appointed as Chairman of the CECC and Senator Sherrod Brown was appointed as Cochairman in May.


Source: -See Summary (2011-08-22 ) | Posted on: 2011-08-22  
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After Monk's Suicide: Coerced Removal and "Education" for Monks; Possible Murder Charges

August 17, 2011

Tibetan Buddhist monks at Kirti Monastery whom officials suspect of assisting or sheltering a monk who committed self-immolation on March 16, 2011, could face criminal charges, possibly for "premeditated murder." China's state-run media characterized the suicide as a "plot" to "incite other monks to create disturbances," but did not acknowledge monastic resentment against increasing government and Party control over Tibetan Buddhist affairs. On April 21, security officials allegedly beat to death two elderly Tibetans and injured others who tried and failed to block People's Armed Police from removing at least 300 Kirti monks from the monastery. Official media reported the next day that the local government would begin immediately "mass legal education" of Kirti monks to maintain what officials described as "normal religious order." The use of enforced confinement (de facto detention) and coerced participation in a program under the pretext of "education" appears to disregard Article 37 of China's Constitution which prohibits "[u]nlawful deprivation or restriction of citizens' freedom of the person by detention or other means." On June 9, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson dismissed a United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances request for information on the monks and asserted that "there was no question of forced disappearances." Kirti Monastery is located near the seat of Aba (Ngaba) county, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province.

Chronological Summary of Principal Developments
  • March 16: Self-immolation. Monk Phuntsog of Kirti Monastery, age 20 or 21 according to international media and advocacy group reports, reportedly set himself on fire at about 4 p.m. on March 16, 2011, near an Aba market area to protest the fatal shooting on the same date in 2008 of at least 10 Tibetans during a protest [and some rioting], according to same-day reports by Radio Free Asia (RFA, 16 March 11), International Campaign for Tibet (ICT, 16 March 11), and Phayul (16 March 11). China's official media cited an Aba county government spokesman who provided the monk's name as Rigzin Phuntsog, his age as 16, and noted that he had "a history of epilepsy" and had become a Kirti monk in 2005 (Xinhua, 17 March 11, reprinted in China Internet Information Center). Xinhua did not explain whether officials deemed the alleged "history of epilepsy" to be relevant to the self-immolation. Phuntsog reportedly shouted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama's long life as he burned, and security officials allegedly kicked and beat him as they extinguished the flames (ICT, 17 March 11; RFA 16 March 11, Phayul 16 March 11). Tibetans "intervened and managed to take Phuntsog away from the police" and returned him to the monastery (ICT, 17 March 11). Later that night, monks took Phuntsog to the county hospital after the government gave them "permission" to do so, according to an RFA source (RFA, 17 March 11). China's official media acknowledged "hours of negotiation," but asserted that the government waited for permission from the monks to move Phuntsog (Xinhua, 23 April 11, reprinted in China Daily). He died at about 3 a.m. on Thursday, March 17, according to media and advocacy group reports (RFA, 17 March 11; ICT, 17 March 11), or "early Thursday morning," according to official media (Xinhua, 17 March 11, reprinted in China Daily). Chinese media cited a hospital official who stated that a post-mortem examination of Phuntsog turned up no evidence of wounds consistent with a police attack on him (Xinhua, 23 April 11, reprinted in China Daily). After seeking and receiving official permission, on March 18 Kirti management conducted a funeral service and cremation for Phuntsog (ICT, 18 March 11).

      Questions posed by the Xinhua report of age 16. If, according to the March 17 Xinhua report (reprinted in China Internet Information Center), "Rigzin Phuntsog" was 16 years old in 2011, then he would have been age 10 when he became a Kirti monk in 2005. If, however, the Xinhua report was mistaken and Rigzin Phuntsog was age 16 in 2005, when he joined Kirti, then he would turn 22 during 2011—an age similar to international media and advocacy group reports. According to Article 27 of the Management Measures for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries, which took effect on November 1, 2010 (available in Chinese on the Central People's Government Web site), students in scripture study classes must "generally" be over age 18. It is unclear what type of activity "Rigzin Phuntsog" may have engaged in at Kirti if he was age 16 in 2011, or if his status as a minor would have any effect on the prosecution of other Kirti monks who could face "intentional homicide" charges linked to his self-immolation, as reported below.

  • March 19-21: More PAP arrive; education on "patriotic religion" starts. On March 19, the day after Phuntsog's cremation, People's Armed Police (PAP) and public security officials began to converge on Kirti in substantial numbers, halted normal monastic activity, and placed the monastery under tight security (RFA, 22 March 11; Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), 11 April 11). Security personnel reportedly did not permit monks to leave the monastery’s premises without written permission from monastic and government officials, or to move about the monastery, and allegedly beat monks who did not remain in their rooms. On March 21, provincial-, prefectural-, and county-level Party and government officials launched a political education program in Kirti called "patriotic religion" (RFA 22 March 11).

  • April 9: Hundreds more PAP; work starts on barbed wire, walls, to seal off monastery. On April 9, approximately 800 additional PAP arrived at Kirti and tightened security further, sealing off traffic access to the monastery and prohibiting most pedestrian entry and exit (RFA, 12 April 11; TCHRD, 11 April 11). PAP manning monastery entrances refused to allow Tibetans to bring in food for the monks (a Buddhist custom toward monks and nuns), reportedly resulting in a food shortage. Authorities directed the installation of barbed wire to seal off portions of the monastery's perimeter that were not already closed, then workers completed construction of a concrete "boundary wall" to prevent entry or exit except at three gates manned by security officials and PAP (Phayul, 19 April 11; ICT, 11 April 11, updated 12 April 11; TCHRD, 11 April 11).

  • April 12: Decision to send monks aged 18-40 away for "education." On April 12, authorities reportedly announced that monks between the ages of 18 and 40 would be taken from the monastery to other locations to undergo "patriotic education" (ICT, 11 April 11, updated 12 April 11; ICT, 13 April 11; RFA, 14 April 11). Local Tibetans who were aware of the government's intentions rushed to block access to the monastery by "around 40" buses carrying PAP (RFA, 14 April 11; TCHRD, 13 April 11; ICT, 9 May 11). PAP allegedly beat some of the Tibetans and allowed police dogs to attack them, resulting in injuries, but the Tibetans maintained their position and the confrontation ended a few hours later without the PAP buses entering the monastery (RFA, 14 April 11; ICT, 13 April 11; ICT, 11 April 11).

  • April 21-22: PAP remove 300 monks for "mass legal education." Around 9 p.m. on April 21, PAP and public security officials went from room to room at Kirti and forced at least 300 monks onto buses or trucks that took them to locations that may have been in Wenchuan (Lunggu), Mao (Maowun), and Li (Tashiling) counties in Aba prefecture, and Dujiangyan city in Chengdu municipality (RFA, 22 April 11; ICT, 22 April 11; Phayul, 22 April 11). PAP and police allegedly beat some Tibetans in a group of about 200 who attempted to block removal of the monks from the monastery, resulting in the deaths of 2 elderly Tibetans, serious injuries to some, and brief detention of most of the others. The Aba county police chief later claimed there had been no clash, no injuries, and no deaths (Xinhua, 30 April 11, reprinted in China Internet Information Center). On April 22, the Aba County People's Government issued a notice stating that "mass legal education" of Kirti monks would begin immediately in order to maintain "normal religious order" (Xinhua, 22 April 11, 10:04 GMT, translated in OSC; Xinhua, 22 April 11, 13:39 GMT, translated in OSC). The notice included the allegation that some of the Kirti monks "for a long time" had "disturbed the social order," "[damaged] the normal religious order," and "[tarnished] the image of Tibetan Buddhism" by fighting, gambling, drinking, circulating pornography, and using prostitutes (Xinhua, 22 April 11, 10:04 GMT; Xinhua, 23 April 11, reprinted in China Daily). "Legal education" would compel monks to "study the country's laws and regulations as well as religious disciplines and [precepts]" (Xinhua, 23 April 11). The use of enforced confinement (de facto detention) and coerced participation in a program under the pretext of "education" appear to disregard Article 37 of China's Constitution, which prohibits "[u]nlawful deprivation or restriction of citizens' freedom of the person by detention or other means."

  • April 22: "Legal experts" say monks linked to self-immolation suspected of "intentional homicide." Concurrent with the start of "legal education," China's state-run media reported that "local legal experts" described two Kirti monks, referred to in Chinese as Zhongzhou and Da'erji and who allegedly delayed Phuntsog's handover to the hospital, as suspects in a case of "intentional homicide" (guyi sharen) (Xinhua, 22 April 11, translated in OSC, 24 April 11), or "premeditated murder" (Xinhua, 23 April 11, reprinted in China Daily). The April 22 Xinhua report linked two additional monks, referred to as Ladan and Zerang Zhade, to the self-immolation. The April 23 Xinhua report described security officials' assessment of the self immolation as "a carefully planned and implemented criminal case, which aimed at triggering disturbances." China's Criminal Law, Article 232, provides a minimum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and a maximum punishment of execution for "intentional homicide," and a sentence of 3 to 10 years "if circumstances are relatively minor." Article 233 provides three to seven years in prison for "negligently causing death," but not more than three years "if the circumstances are relatively minor."

  • June 8-9: MFA dismisses UN concerns over 300 monks’ "disappearance." The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) issued a press release (8 June 11, available on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Web site) expressing "serious concern" about all persons subjected to enforced disappearance in China, including the 300 monks security personnel allegedly removed from Kirti on April 21. The press release urged the Chinese government to provide information about their "fate and whereabouts" and called on China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. On June 9, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson responding at a scheduled news conference to a question about the Working Group press release asserted that no "forced disappearances" took place at Kirti," according to a BBC report (BBC, 9 June 11). "The relevant local authorities are conducting legal education for the Kirti monastery monks in order to maintain religious order there," the MFA spokesperson said. Based on the BBC report, the spokesperson apparently did not provide any information on the location of the monks, the duration of the "legal education" program, or whether officials kept the monks confined to the program site. The transcript of the press conference (available in Chinese and English on the MFA Web site) did not contain the question about the Kirti monks or the spokesperson's response.

  • May-June: Some "disappeared" monks from Qinghai sent home. An unknown but substantial number of monks hailing from Qinghai province who were among the 300 monks removed from Kirti and subjected to "legal education" have been returned to their family homes in Qinghai, according to international media and advocacy group reports issued in late May (ICT, 26 May 11) and June (RFA, 16 June 11). Authorities prohibited monks from Yushu (Yulshul) and Guoluo (Golog) TAPs in Qinghai from returning to Kirti, took them back to their Qinghai homes, and released them, according to sources cited in the RFA report. Information on their post-release status and activity is not available. A spreadsheet linked to a TCHRD report (10 June 11) listing 161 of the monks reportedly among those forcibly removed from Kirti contains a total of 139 entries of monks with residences in Yushu or Guoluo TAPs. Only 4 of the 161 entries record a residence in Sichuan province. Commission analysis has not confirmed whether or not every entry on the list represents a unique case.

  • See a previous CECC analysis titled "Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations Taking Effect in Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures" for more information on regulatory measures in effect in Aba T&QAP and other TAPs. See sections on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in the Commission's 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Annual Reports.


    Source: -See Summary (2011-06-15 ) | Posted on: 2011-08-17  
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    UN Group Calls for Immediate Release of Liu Xiaobo and Wife Liu Xia

    August 12, 2011

    In May 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued two opinions declaring that the Chinese government's imprisonment of prominent intellectual Liu Xiaobo and house arrest of his wife Liu Xia contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The opinions call on Chinese officials to immediately release Liu Xiaobo, immediately end Liu Xia's house arrest, and provide reparations to both persons. Freedom Now, a US-based non-profit organization that filed a petition for the opinions with the Working Group, released the opinions to the public in August 2011.

    The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (Working Group) adopted two opinions on May 5, 2011, declaring that the Chinese government's deprivation of liberty of prominent Chinese intellectual Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia contravenes Articles 9, 10, and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is therefore arbitrary, according to the full text of the opinions made public in an August 1, 2011, Freedom Now press release. Liu Xiaobo, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is currently serving an 11-year sentence that is set to expire on June 21, 2020. Liu Xia has been under house arrest since October 2010, shortly after her husband was awarded the Nobel prize. In November 2010, Freedom Now and a team of international human rights experts filed a petition with the Working Group seeking opinions in both cases. Among the Working Group's key findings include:

    Chinese officials contravened Liu Xiaobo's Article 19 right to political free speech. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009, for allegedly "inciting subversion" through his participation in a political reform and human rights document known as Charter 08 and six essays he wrote that were posted on overseas Web sites. The Working Group said Chinese officials argued that their restriction on Liu's right to free speech conformed with a provision in Article 19 of the UDHR that permits restrictions insofar as they are provided by law and necessary to protect, among other things, national security and public order. The Working Group noted, however, that the Chinese government had failed to satisfy "the requirement of proportionality" that restrictions on free speech must meet. "The [Chinese government] has not shown in this case a justification for the interference with Mr. Liu Xiaobo's political free speech," the opinion said. As the Commission has noted in previous analysis, the Chinese court's arguments in Liu's case failed to support the contention that Liu's peaceful advocacy for political reform and human rights through Charter 08 and his writings had threatened China's national security. (See Human Rights in China's English translations of the court verdict and six essays.)

    Chinese officials contravened Liu Xiaobo's Article 10 right to a fair trial and Article 9 right to be free from arbitrary detention. The Working Group found that Liu's pre-trial detention constituted a "clear violation of Article 9," noting that authorities had failed to promptly notify Liu of the charges against him or to promptly bring him before a judge. They further noted that authorities held Liu "incommunicado for an extended period" and denied him access to counsel. As for Liu's trial, the Working Group found that it "was organized in a way which constitutes a breach of fairness." The group noted that Liu's defense was limited to 14 minutes, despite the "difficult balancing issues" involved in free speech cases. See previous Commission analysis noting how Chinese officials had initially kept Liu under "residential surveillance" in conditions that violated Chinese law, failed to count that period as time served for purposes of his sentence expiration date, and generally obstructed Liu's defense.

    Chinese officials' restrictions on Liu Xia amount to detention and violate Articles 9, 10 and 19. The Working Group said that available information indicated that Liu Xia was under house arrest as a result of the restrictions placed on her movement and her communications and visits with the outside world. The Working Group held that these restrictions amounted to detention and that under Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR she has the right to know the reasons for the detention and the charges against her. She also has the right to promptly face a judge and the right to counsel, the group said. The Working Group also said that the detention of Liu Xia, who had spoken to non-Chinese media in support of her husband, violates the free speech protections of Article 19.

    For further information on how Chinese government and Communist Party restrictions on free speech violate international standards, see Section II-Freedom of Expression, in the 2010 CECC Annual Report. For further information on how officials arbitrarily restrict the liberty of politically-sensitive individuals, see Section II-Criminal Justice, in the 2010 CECC Annual Report.

    Source: -See Summary (2011-08-11 / English / Free) | Posted on: 2011-08-12  
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    Official Repression of Religion Continues in Xinjiang

    July 12, 2011

    Official repression of religion in Xinjiang remains severe. Authorities continue to claim that "illegal religious activities" and "religious extremism" constitute threats to the region's security. Officials have singled out Islamic practices in a number of cases and have maintained a range of curbs over Muslims' religious activities. Recent reports describe continuing campaigns against head scarves, measures to monitor Friday sermons at mosques, and reported imprisonment of a religious leader who refused to abide by government demands regarding a local mosque.

    Authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) continue to target "illegal religious activities" and "religious extremism" as threats to the region's stability, maintaining curbs over religious activities undertaken outside of government-approved parameters and singling out Islamic practices in a number of cases. At a December 2010 XUAR Communist Party Committee Standing Committee meeting, attendees called for "resolutely preventing illegal religious activities and striking against religious extremist forces in accordance with law" as part of the region's work to maintain stability, according to a Xinjiang Daily report (via Xinhua, December 8, 2010). Following the meeting, the Party issued opinions on demarcating and preventing "illegal" religious activities in early 2011, which multiple localities reported implementing, according to descriptions of the opinions. (Full text not available. See references in, e.g., an April 24, 2011, report from Buddhism Online and an April 6 report on the Aksu District Government Web site.) Recent reports from XUAR media and government sources detail a range of ongoing efforts to curb religious practices, including broad campaigns against "illegal" religious activities, continuing campaigns against head scarves, measures to monitor Friday sermons at mosques, and reported imprisonment of a religious leader who refused to abide by government demands regarding a local mosque.

    Campaign Against "Illegal Religious Activities" in Aksu Township
    A township in Xinhe (Toqsu) county, Aksu district, detailed plans for a campaign against "illegal" religious activities stretching from November 2010 to March 2011, according to a report about the campaign posted November 27, 2010, on the Xinhe County Government Web site. The plan said the campaign was aimed at such issues as "using 'propagation of religion' to attack the Party and government," the "dual character" of a "small number of religious personnel" (an apparent reference to state-sanctioned religious leaders who do not abide by government-set parameters for religious practice), and the "problem" and phenomenon of having a "pronounced religious atmosphere" and wearing such things as "bizarre" clothes, veils, and beards. Stages of the campaign included: (1) "education activities" for religious leaders and believers, including "criticism" and "self-criticism"; (2) investigation activities to "ferret out," "fathom," and register students in underground religious classes as well as previously sanctioned religious personnel, and religious believers who have religious knowledge but are "unstable" in their ideology; (3) encouraging the reporting of "illegal" religious activities; and (4) "rectifying" problem areas, including by "severely punishing" people in underground religious classes or who are linked to the classes, in accordance with penalties in local village codes of conduct; using "education" and "transformation" activities for groups such as veiled women, men with large beards, and people with religious knowledge but who are "unstable" in their ideology; and inspecting cultural markets for "illegal" religious publications.

    Campaigns Against Veiling and Beards
    In addition to the township in Aksu that included veiled women and men with beards in its campaign against "illegal" religious activities, other localities in the XUAR also have carried out campaigns targeting Muslim men with beards and women who wear veils or clothing deemed to carry religious connotations. Under the direction of the Party-controlled XUAR Women's Federation, multiple localities reported continuing a campaign aimed at dissuading women from veiling their hair and faces. As noted in a previous CECC analysis, the federation reported in January 2010 that it had launched the campaign to enable ethnic minority women to "discern what is traditional ethnic dress" and to address why women should "take the initiative to not wear a veil." The Women's Federation in Hoten district reported in January 2011 that it would continue the campaign, "completing education and guidance work" to encourage women to remove their veils while "leading them to uphold a scientific, civilized, and healthy way of life and encouraging them to vigorously participate in productive labor for society," according to a January 27, 2011, report (cached) on the Hoten District People's Government Web site. In Luntai (Bugur) county, Bayangol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, the local women's federation described continuing the campaign in order to "let even more ethnic minority women realize their own value in participating in society," according to a September 7, 2010, report on the Luntai County Government Web site.

    As reported by the Commission in previous analyses (1, 2), in recent years authorities also have described steps to monitor Muslim men with beards or restrict them from having beards, tying the practice to "religious extremism" and "backwardness." Authorities have detailed steps such as having government departments carry out "beard-shavings" directed at young men and using punitive measures including "severe punishment in accordance with law" (yifa yancheng) to deal with men with large beards, as well as women with veils. More recently, management rules in force for the "information corps" in a residential district in Usu city, Tacheng (Tarbaghatay) district, included the presence of "people from outside [the district] wearing abnormal large beards or veiling their faces," along with "residents holding extremist religious thoughts" as scenarios requiring immediate reporting, according to a September 18, 2010, report on the Hongqiao Residential District Office Web site. In Kucha county, Aqsu district, authorities identified people with beards or who wear "bizarre" clothes as "key people" for focusing education work to "transform" their ideology, according to a December 6, 2010, speech from the county's education bureau Party Committee Secretary.

    Monitoring Sermons
    In January 2011, a township in the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, described implementing a system for government religious affairs employees to set the schedule for Friday sermons at the township's mosques and for using "religious information gatherers" of "high political consciousness" to provide information on the sermon delivery and the "ideological trends" of mosque attendees, according to a January 7, 2011, report on the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County Government Web site. In recent years, authorities elsewhere in the XUAR also have reported on systems of monitoring mosques and sermons.

    Continued Oversight of Women Religious Specialists
    Authorities also have continued to increase oversight of Muslim women religious specialists known as büwi. (For more information, see previous CECC analyses 1, 2.) In February 2011, the women's federation in Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture issued directions to "increase the degree of attention" to büwi. The following month the federation called for successfully "educating and guiding" büwi and making progress in a system of fixed contact between Party members and the women, according to articles posted March 15 and March 30 on the prefecture's women's federation Web site. The township in Xinhe county, Aksu, discussed above, also included büwi among groups to receive "education" and "transformation."

    Prison Sentences and Detentions in Shihezi
    Authorities in Shihezi municipality detained father and son Muslim religious leaders Qahar Mensur and Muhemmed Tursun on October 1, 2010, on suspicion of "distributing illegal religious works," according to an April 11, 2011, Radio Free Asia report. On April 12, 2011, the Shihezi Intermediate People's Court reportedly sentenced them to 3 years' imprisonment in connection with storing and distributing "illegal religious publications." The publication in question reportedly was an annotated edition of the Quran by 14th-century scholar Ibn Kesir that had official government approval. Sources cited in the RFA article said that authorities were punishing the father and son because Qahar Mensur had refused to comply with government demands, such as bringing government documents into mosques, while he served as muezzin for a mosque.

    For more information on religion and conditions in the XUAR, see Section II—Freedom of Religion and Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.

    Source: -See Summary (2011-05-18 ) | Posted on: 2011-07-12  
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    Authorities Release Prominent Rights Advocate Hu Jia Upon Completion of His Sentence

    July 1, 2011

    On June 26, 2011, authorities released Hu Jia from prison upon completion of his three-and-a-half year sentence. Hu has been an active advocate on issues including environmental protection, HIV/AIDS, and freedom of expression and movement. He has also expressed public support for rights defenders, including Chen Guangcheng and Guo Feixiong. He was sentenced in 2008 for "inciting subversion of state power." During his time in prison, authorities refused multiple requests for his medical parole. Hu is now home with his wife, Zeng Jinyan, in Beijing and reportedly remains under tight official surveillance.

    Hu Jia's Release

    Authorities released Hu Jia into the care of his wife, Zeng Jinyan, in the early morning of June 26, 2011, according a New York Times report (26 June 11). On her Twitter page, Zeng Jinyan reported that they would not be able to receive visitors, indicating that numerous security vehicles were stationed outside their home in Beijing. Zeng said that she had returned to Beijing on June 19 after her landlord, citing unidentified pressure, served her a notice of eviction from her apartment in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. According to Zeng, eight security personnel escorted her from the Beijing airport.

    Prior Advocacy Efforts and Official Harassment

    Hu Jia has been an outspoken advocate on a number of issues including environmental protection and HIV/AIDs. He has also criticized the official mistreatment of other rights defenders including legal advocates Guo Feixiong and Chen Guangcheng. According to the New York Times report, Hu was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize while he was in detention in 2007. When he was in prison in 2008, the European Parliament awarded Hu the Sakaharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. In an effort to control his advocacy efforts authorities harassed, beat, and detained Hu and held him, his wife, and their young daughter in unlawful home confinement on multiple occasions and for varying periods of time since 2005.
    • In August 2005, Hu reported that authorities beat him and placed him under house arrest during visits by top United Nations and European Union officials.

    • In November 2005, authorities reportedly detained Hu when he attempted to deliver a petition to Vice Premier Wu Yi at an AIDS conference in Henan province.

    • In January 2006, authorities placed Hu under surveillance and house arrest and then "disappeared" him until March 28.

    • Starting in July 2006, authorities held Hu and Zeng Jinyan under house arrest for at least six months. The couple documented the tight surveillance measures in a home video distributed widely on the Internet.

    • In May 2007, authorities again placed Hu and Zeng under house arrest following their attempt to leave the country, as documented in a May 21, 2007, Human Rights Watch report.

    • While Hu remained in official custody, authorities continued to subject Zeng and their young daughter to ongoing surveillance and periodic home confinement, in addition to physically harassing and "disappearing" Zeng while Hu remained in official custody, according to Zeng's blog, in addition to reports from Global Voices Advocacy (1 June 08), Chinese Human Rights Defenders (9 August 08), Telegraph (21 February 09), and Agence France-Presse (via Google, 19 November 09, 9 December 10).
    Hu Jia's Imprisonment

    Authorities detained Hu Jia in December 2007 on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power," a crime under Article 105 of China's Criminal Law. His detention came after he co-wrote a letter titled "The Real China Before the Olympics" (Chinese, English), criticizing the Chinese government for failing to live up to its promise to improve human rights for the Olympics. The detention also followed Hu's testimony via conference call before the European Parliament. Authorities formally arrested Hu in January 2008, and tried him in March 2008 in a trial reportedly marred by criminal procedure violations. On April 3, 2008, authorities sentenced Hu to three and a half years' imprisonment and one year deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion." While in prison, Hu continued to suffer from a previously contracted case of liver cirrhosis. Despite his family's expressed concerns in 2008 about Hu's medical condition, authorities continued to hold Hu for the full period of his sentence.

    For more information on China's imprisonment of rights defenders and online critics, see the CECC 2010 Annual Report and online Political Prisoner Database.



    Source: -See Summary (2011-06-30 / English / Free) | Posted on: 2011-07-01  
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    Beijing Authorities Harass and Detain Shouwang Church Members

    July 1, 2011

    Beginning on April 9, 2011, public security officials in Beijing frequently harassed, detained, and restricted the freedom of movement of some members and leaders of the unregistered Beijing Shouwang Church in response to the church's efforts to organize outdoor services every Sunday in Beijing's Haidian district. Shouwang began organizing the services after authorities reportedly pressured its landlords to deny the church access to indoor sites of worship where it had previously met or planned to meet. In one instance, according to overseas reports, uniformed and plainclothes police took into custody over 160 Shouwang members, including clergy. Between April 10 and May 15, authorities reportedly placed a total of approximately 500 members and church leaders under "soft detention" (ruanjin), a form of unlawful home confinement. As of June 5, authorities had taken Shouwang members into custody in connection with nine outdoor services. The incidents of harassment and detention occurred during a time when authorities' sensitivities to members of unregistered Protestant congregations who assemble into large groups or across congregations appeared to have increased, as well as during a broader crackdown against rights defenders, petitioners, artists, Internet bloggers, and others that began in mid-February 2011.

    Beijing Authorities Take Into Custody, Confine to Their Homes Congregants and Church Leaders

    According to reports from international media and non-governmental organizations, every Sunday beginning on April 10, 2011, public security officials in Beijing have taken into custody members and leaders of the Beijing Shouwang Church in an effort to pressure them to stop meeting. Over 160 were taken into custody in one instance, according to BBC (12 April 11, in Chinese). As of June 5, authorities had taken Shouwang members into custody in connection with nine outdoor worship gatherings. Shouwang, which has approximately 1,000 members, is reportedly one of the largest unregistered church congregations ("house churches") in Beijing (Reuters, 3 April 11). Beginning on April 10, Shouwang began organizing Sunday worship gatherings outdoors after authorities reportedly pressured its landlords to deny the church access to the sites where it had previously been meeting or planned to meet, according to an open letter from Shouwang (27 March 11, in Chinese, via the ChinaAid Association (CAA)).

    Officials detained some congregants for a few hours, while they confined others to their homes for weeks. For example, according to Voice of America (VOA) (25 April 11, in Chinese), Shouwang pastor Jin Tianming stated that, on April 24, some congregants were released after as little as five or six hours, but some were still held after approximately 30 hours. During the April 10 detentions, public security officials recorded the names and personal information of detained church members, took their fingerprints, and forced some to "write statements of repentance and personal guarantees," according to the CAA (11 April 11, in English). In addition, according to the Associated Press (AP) (10 April 11, via Yahoo!) and Shouwang (29 May 11, via CAA), on April 9—one day before the first gathering—officials began to confine some church members and leaders to their homes, monitoring their actions and restricting their freedom of movement. According to CAA (24 April 11, in English; 15 May 11, in English) and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (27 April 11), beginning on April 23, officials confined a total of approximately 500 church members to their homes. One hundred reportedly remained confined to their homes as of May 15. As of April 29, Shouwang pastors Jin Tianming, Yuan Ling, Zhang Xiaofeng, and Li Xiaobai, and lay leaders Sun Yi, You Guanhui, and Liu Guan remained confined to their homes, according to the April 29 Shouwang report.

    In addition to the detentions and home confinements, authorities in Beijing took other forms of action to pressure participants in the services to stop gathering outdoors. For example, according to CAA (10 May 11, in English), public security officials forcibly returned at least one church member, Hu Jian, to his home province. Within days of Shouwang's first outdoor gathering on April 10, congregants reportedly began to lose their jobs or were evicted from their homes after their employers and landlords came under pressure from authorities. According to reports from AsiaNews (16 May 11) and Shouwang (13 May 11, via CAA, in English), the Shouwang Church reported that 10 congregants lost their jobs and more than 30 were pressured to leave their rented homes.

    Harassment and Detentions Occur During Time of Heightened Sensitivity to Unregistered Protestant Congregations

    The harassment and detention of members of the Shouwang Church took place during a time when authorities' sensitivities to members of unregistered Protestant congregations who assemble into large groups or across congregations appear to have increased (see a related CECC analysis), as well as during a broader crackdown against rights defenders, petitioners, artists, Internet bloggers, and others that began in mid-February 2011 (see a related CECC analysis). The Commission has not observed any statements from the Chinese government or Communist Party that explicitly acknowledge a link between these factors and the Shouwang events. However, two April 2011 editorials from the Global Times (11 April 11, in English; 26 April 11, in Chinese) that coincide with the broader crackdown warn against "politicizing" religion, and the English-language editorial characterizes the April 10 outdoor worship gathering as a "public disturbance" (the Global Times operates under the People's Daily, the official news media of the Communist Party). The leaders of Shouwang Church insist that their actions are solely for the purpose of religious worship, and not political demonstration, according to Shouwang (4 April 11, in Chinese, via CAA). They say that "[Shouwang] will strive our hardest to avoid having our religious activities be dyed by the colors of politics, but whether or not this can be avoided is not up to us to decide."

    Authorities in Beijing have made previous attempts to prevent Shouwang Church members from gathering to worship. For example, authorities in Beijing detained Shouwang pastor Jin Tianming on October 17, 2010, as he led a worship gathering of members of unregistered churches whom authorities had recently stopped from attending an international conference on evangelization in South Africa, set to take place from October 16 to 25 (see a related CECC analysis). According to CAA (2 November 09, in English) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) (9 November 09, in Chinese), on November 2, 2009, nearly 1,000 congregants—and on November 9, 2009, over 700 congregants—met outside to worship after the church's landlord, reportedly under pressure from authorities, refused to renew the church's rental contract (for more information, see the CECC's 2010 Annual Report, p. 109.) Officials placed Jin under "soft detention" on November 8, 2009, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (12 November 09, via Boxun, in Chinese). A January 2011 document from China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) that outlines SARA's policies in 2011 calls on authorities to "guide" members of unregistered Protestant congregations to worship in state-controlled churches (see a related CECC analysis), but in recent months, authorities appear to have focused their efforts on stopping Shouwang from meeting. In addition to the recent detentions, an April 11, 2011, article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted Jin as stating that, in the last 18 months, authorities had forced Shouwang to move 20 times from locations where it had been gathering to worship. In 2009, Shouwang reportedly paid 27 million yuan (approximately US$4 million) to purchase its own place of worship, but the owner, under pressure from the authorities, failed to hand over the keys, according to reports from the New York Times (24 April 11) and AsiaNews (16 May 11). An April 18, 2011, CAA article (in English) reported that since 2009 authorities have prevented Shouwang from purchasing or renting any new properties, as well. According to a report from the World and China Institute (3 September 10, in Chinese), Shouwang applied for registration with the Haidian District Ethnic, Religious, and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau on May 11, 2006, but the Bureau reportedly refused to provide documentation necessary for registration because Shouwang's pastors had not been confirmed by a municipal patriotic religious association. The basis for the rejection reportedly stemmed from Article 10(4) of the Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations, which stipulates that a group that is applying for registration must have, among other requirements, "[a] number of full-time staff members corresponding to the organization's professional activities." As pastors not confirmed by a patriotic religious organization, they were deemed not to be appropriate staff members.

    Chronology of Events

    The following is a chronology of harassment of Shouwang church members between early April and June 5, 2011:
    • April 10: Public security officials took into custody for questioning 169 of the more than 200 church members who attended the outdoor service. Officials released most of them by April 11. The day before the gathering, officials placed under "soft detention" Shouwang pastors Jin Tianming, Yuan Ling, and Zhang Xiaofeng, as well as lay leaders Sun Yi, You Guanhui, and Liu Guan. According to China Free Press (13 April 11), authorities placed pastor Li Xiaobai under "soft detention" as of April 12. (BBC, 12 April 11, in Chinese; AP, 10 April 11; CAA, 11 April 11, in English; 16 April 11, in English; RFA, 12 April 11, in Chinese; 13 April 11, in Chinese)

    • April 17: Over 100 church members reportedly participated in the outdoor service, and authorities took 47 into custody. Authorities released most church members by April 18; however, it is unclear if all were released. Public security officials took pastor Jin Tianming away the night before and interrogated him for nearly 12 hours before releasing him back into "soft detention" on April 17. Officials took into custody pastor Li Xiaobai—who was already under "soft detention"—and his wife Lu Bingxia that evening and released them a few hours later (authorities released Li back into "soft detention," but sources do not indicate whether his wife was placed under "soft detention"). Officials also took pastor Zhang Xiaofeng—who was already under "soft detention"—into custody for questioning and released him back into "soft detention" at an unspecified time. (AP, 17 April 11, via Yahoo!; CAA, 20 April 11, in English; SCMP, 18 April 11, subscription required)

    • April 24: Public security authorities placed under "soft detention" more than 500 people—over half of the congregation—including all lay leaders and members of the church staff and choir. Officials took into custody at least 36 congregants who participated in the outdoor worship gathering on suspicion of participating in an "illegal gathering" and released them all a few hours later. (Wall Street Journal, 25 April 11; CNN, 25 April 11; Baptist Press, 2 May 11; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 27 April 11)

    • May 1: Public security officials took into custody at least 32 church members, including 2 children. The Commission has not observed any reports that indicate whether authorities have released these individuals. Domestic security protection officers took into custody Wang Shuangyan, pastor of the Beijing-based New Tree Church, on suspicion of "engaging in illegal gatherings" and released her 48 hours later, after questioning. (VOA, 1 May 11, in Chinese; CAA, 4 May 11, in English)

    • May 8: Officials detained at least 15 people who participated in the outdoor worship gathering. Officials released them all within 48 hours, except for 1 church member, Hu Jian, whom officials reportedly held at a police station in Dongsheng district, Beijing, for over 48 hours before ordering him to return to his hometown in Hubei province. (AsiaNews, 9 May 11; CAA, 9 May 11, in Chinese; 10 May 11, in English; 11 May 11, in English)

    • May 15: Public security officials took into custody between 16 and 20 church members and released 12 by that evening and the rest by noon on May 16. Authorities also confined approximately 100 to their homes for the weekend. (CAA, 15 May 11; in English; 18 May 11, in English; AsiaNews, 16 May 11)

    • May 22: Public security officials took into custody between 25 and 27 church members, including an elderly woman in her 80s and a two-year-old child, and an undetermined number were placed under "soft detention" for the weekend. Twenty-four were released within 12 hours. (SCMP, 23 May 11, subscription required; Guardian, 24 May 11; CAA, 24 May 11, in Chinese)

    • May 29: Public security officials took into custody at least 22 church members, and by midnight released 21 members, with the final person released by mid-day on May 30. (CAA, 30 May 11, in Chinese; 1 June 11, in English)

    • June 5: Public security officials detained 20 church members and placed dozens under "soft detention" in their homes beginning on June 3. The Commission has not observed reports indicating that any of those detained or placed under "soft detention" have been released. (VOA, 6 June 11, in Chinese; SCMP, 6 June 11, subscription required)
    For more information about conditions for China's religious communities, see Section II—Freedom of Religion in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.

    Source: -See Summary (2011-06-06 / Free) | Posted on: 2011-07-01  
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    Top Official Directs Media To Promote July Anniversary of Party's Founding

    July 1, 2011

    A top Communist Party official has directed Chinese media to promote the 90th anniversary of China's Communist Party, founded on July 1, 1921, saying it is their "common responsibility" to do so. The call, which came on April 22, 2011, was directed not only at media organizations closely aligned with the Party but also more commercially oriented newspapers and online media more generally. The call echoes the official policy of the Chinese government and Party that the domestic media serve as an instrument of the Party.

    The director of China's Communist Party's Central Propaganda Department has called on the nation's news media to promote the 90th anniversary of the Party's founding, saying it is their "common responsibility" to do so, according to an April 22 Xinhua article. Liu Yunshan, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Party's Central Committee, made the comments during an April 22 speech given at a special meeting on "propaganda reporting work" for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Party. The Communist Party of China was founded on July 1, 1921, according to Xinhua's Web site. Below are Liu's specific instructions (quoted language is Xinhua's reporting of Liu's remarks, for which it is unclear whether they reflect direct quotations or paraphrases of his words):
    • For news media in general "doing good propaganda reporting on the 90th anniversary of the Party's founding is the common responsibility of all levels and types of media."

    • Central and local Party newspapers and magazines, radio and television stations should "play a leading role" by issuing "special columns, special topic sections, discussions, commentaries, and commemorative essays."

    • Evening and metropolitan newspapers should use "vivid stories and moving plots to show the glorious history of the Party's struggles." These newspapers are more commercially-oriented and some have developed reputations for investigative reporting, albeit within the confines of overall Party control.

    • Online media "should help the large numbers of netizens [Internet users] to understand the Party's great historical course by publishing special postings, background links, and online interviews."
    The role of the news media as an instrument of the Party is enshrined in official policy. Despite current plans to restructure the media industry to enhance its international competitiveness (see, for example, this October 25, 2010, People's Daily article), officials have made clear that any change must strengthen, not weaken, Party control. In a November 2010 speech on the topic of political reform and its relationship to China's news industry, Liu Binjie, Director of the General Administration on Press and Publication, a government agency responsible for regulating the press, said:
    Any reform needs to be beneficial to strengthening and improving the Party's leadership over press and publishing work.... Press and publishing system reform needs to firmly grasp the leadership authority of the Party over press and publishing work. ... From beginning to end we must insist on ... no change to the nature of the press and publishing serving as mouthpieces of the Party and the people, no change in the Party's control over the media. (China Press and Publication Online, 17 November 10)
    For radio and television stations, which are more tightly controlled than newspapers and online media, the Chinese government announced in January 2011 that it would not allow radio or television stations to privatize, justifying the decision on the grounds of the importance of radio and television to the Party. "Radio and television stations are the Party's important news media and battleground for propagandizing ideology and culture...and propaganda must remain their focus," a spokesperson from the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television is paraphrased as saying in a January 14 Chinanews.com report.

    One of the functions the Party expects the media to assume is to "correctly" (zhengque) guide public opinion. In November 2010, Li Changchun, a member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee, on the occasion of the annual Journalists' Day in China, said "a correct public opinion orientation benefits the Party and the people," and called on the news media to "insist on their responsibility to the Party and people," emphasize "positive propaganda," and "propagandize the Party's positions" (People's Daily, 9 November 10). In recent years, officials have called for propaganda to reflect positively on the Party and to influence public opinion during various high-profile events and incidents, ranging from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the economic downturn, demonstrations and protests in Tibetan areas and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2008 and 2009, and major earthquakes in 2008 and 2010, among others. The Central Propaganda Department and other government and Party entities also issue more specific and frequent directives to the media on what they can and cannot report on or how to cover particular stories. In January 2011, the International Federation of Journalists released a report documenting more than 80 censorship orders issued by Chinese officials in 2010, outlining Chinese officials' efforts to block information on "public health, disasters, corruption and civil unrest." Chinese officials have also sought to restrict domestic media coverage of recent protests in the Middle East and North Africa (see this CECC analysis for more information).

    For more information on how Chinese officials control the news media and how such control conflicts with international standards for free expression, see pp. 66-70 of the CECC 2010 Annual Report.

    Source: -See Summary (2011-05-06 / English) | Posted on: 2011-07-01  
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    Government Interferes With Activities of House Church Networks in Late 2010 and 2011

    July 1, 2011

    Since late 2010, officials across China have harassed and in some cases detained members of some unregistered Protestant church ("house church") congregations that assemble across multiple congregations in an effort to pressure them to stop meeting. Authorities have harassed and detained members of house church congregations in previous years, but statements from state-controlled media and government sources—coinciding with a broader crackdown against rights defenders, reform advocates, lawyers, petitioners, writers, artists, and Internet bloggers—suggest that authorities' sensitivities to Protestants who worship outside of state-approved parameters have intensified during this period.

    Since late 2010, authorities in locations throughout China have used various means to pressure members of house church congregations that assemble across multiple congregations to stop gathering. These include interrupting gatherings and instructing participants to disperse; placing unregistered Protestants under "soft detention," a form of unlawful home confinement; and blocking access to sites of worship. For example, according to the ChinaAid Association (CAA) (30 January 11, in Chinese) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) (31 January 11, in Chinese), on January 30, 2011, public security officials in Beijing pressured members of two unregistered churches, the Sheng'ai Fellowship and Zhu'ai Fellowship, to cancel a planned joint worship gathering. Officials reportedly took into custody several members of the two congregations, including Liu Fenggang, Liang Jinglu, and Wang Ling, and confined several members to their homes, including Gao Hongming, Hu Shigen, Yang Jing, Xu Yonghai, and He Depu. Sources do not indicate if they were released, although an April 23, 2011, CAA article (in English) notes that authorities took Liu Fenggang into custody in April as he traveled from Beijing to Hebei province. In another example, according to CAA (4 March 11, in Chinese; 7 March 11, in English) and RFA (6 March 11, in Chinese; 10 March 11, in Chinese), on March 4, 2011, officials from Suqian city, Jiangsu province, detained unregistered pastor Shi Enhao after he preached at a house church gathering. The officials reportedly instructed him not to travel away from his residence during the March meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a time when officials have typically tightened restrictions on activists and others. Shi is reportedly a vice president of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), which associates with unregistered Protestant congregations in multiple provinces.

    Domestic and International Law

    Official interference with worship gatherings, "soft detention," and prevention of access to sites of worship appear to contravene provisions in international law that protect religious practice and peaceful assembly, such as Articles 18 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 18 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed but not yet ratified. In at least one recent case, local authorities reportedly cited China's Regulation on Religious Affairs (RRA) as a basis for stopping the religious activities of a house church congregation with connections to the CHCA. According to a February 1, 2011, RFA report (in Chinese), an official from the Jianhu County Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, Yancheng city, Jiangsu province, told RFA that the unregistered Zhongzhuang Church—located in Jianhu—had engaged in an "illegal evangelical event" and that authorities had investigated and dealt with the situation in accordance with the RRA (public security officials and ethnic and religious affairs officials in Jianhu blocked access to the building where members of the church had been meeting). According to CAA (31 January 11, in Chinese), the Zhongzhuang Church leader, pastor Zeng Zhengliang, is also an "important" member of the CHCA. Article 3 of the RRA stipulates that "[t]he State, in accordance with the law, protects normal religious activities, and safeguards the lawful rights and interests of religious bodies, sites for religious activities and religious citizens." However, the RRA excludes unregistered religious groups from the limited state protections that it offers, leaving members of house church congregations at risk of harassment, detention, and imprisonment by authorities. Article 12 of the RRA stipulates that "collective religious activities of religious citizens shall, in general, be held at registered sites for religious activities ... ." House church congregations are unregistered religious groups and therefore cannot register sites of worship. Article 12 of the RRA appears to contravene Article 4 of General Comment No. 22 to Article 18 of the ICCPR (available via the Web site of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), which specifies that the freedom to worship extends to the building of places of worship. Members of registered church congregations also are at risk of harassment due to official sensitivities over contact between members of unregistered and registered congregations. For example, according to CAA (29 December 10, in Chinese; 30 December 10, in English), in December 2010, public security officials in Bengbu city, Anhui province, pressured three Protestant congregations—one of which was reportedly a state-sanctioned church congregation—to cancel a joint Christmas service.

    Context of the Harassment, Detentions, and Interference in Religious Activities

    For years, the Chinese government and Communist Party have interfered in the religious activities of members of Protestant house church congregations that assemble across multiple congregations, but the context of recent cases of harassment, detention, and interference suggests that authorities' sensitivities have intensified toward members of unregistered Protestant congregations who organize religious activities across congregations. CAA's 2010 Annual Report (31 March 11, in English, via Google) attributes heightened official sensitivities to the announcement of the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo and attempts by unregistered Protestants to attend an international evangelization conference in South Africa in late 2010. In addition, cases of interference have continued into the first several months of 2011, during a broader crackdown against rights defenders, reform advocates, lawyers, petitioners, writers, artists, and Internet bloggers. The Commission has not observed statements from the Chinese government or Communist Party that explicitly link interference in the religious activities of house church congregations to these events or that explicitly acknowledge a concerted effort to target house church networks during this period. However, China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) issued a document on January 24, 2011, (available in Chinese via the SARA Web site) outlining its work in 2011 that calls on authorities to "guide" Protestants who "participate in activities at unauthorized gathering places" (house churches) to worship in state-controlled churches (see a related CECC analysis). An article in China Religion (2010, Issue 1, available in Chinese via the SARA Web site)—an official SARA publication—that summarizes the content of a meeting to discuss SARA's work in 2010 did not mention this policy. A January 24, 2011, SARA report (in Chinese via the SARA Web site), however, states that authorities did make efforts to "guide" unregistered Protestants to worship in state-controlled churches in 2010. In addition, two April 2011 editorials from the Global Times (11 April 11, in English; 26 April 11, in Chinese) warn unregistered Protestant congregations not to overstep state-approved parameters in their religious activities. The Global Times operates under the People's Daily, the official Party newspaper. The April 11 editorial states:
    Chinese society attaches great importance to harmony, and those with religious beliefs should adhere even more strongly to this harmony. They should not cause any public disturbances through their own religious activities, which will put them at odds with society.... Those house churches that currently have this tendency should thoroughly reflect on the consequences of their gatherings…. It is said that many intellectuals were present [at the April 10 outdoor gathering of members of the unregistered Shouwang Church]. These people benefit from a [sic] orderly society and should not complain blindly.
    The April 26 editorial states:
    [House churches] have commonly drifted outside society's original religious management system…. [I]t is difficult to "cut them all with one stroke"… if [the actions of house churches] focus on religious belief and highly value not causing conflict with society, if their actions are low key, it will be easy for [house churches] to be understood.
    Selected Examples of Interference

    The following are selected examples of official interference in the religious activities of members of house church congregations that assemble across multiple congregations since late 2010, in addition to those discussed above:
    • According to international media reports, every Sunday beginning on April 10, 2011, public security officials in Beijing took into custody members and leaders of the Beijing Shouwang Church—over 160 in one instance, according to the BBC (12 April 11, in Chinese)—in an effort to pressure them to stop meeting. At the time of this writing, authorities had taken Shouwang members into custody in connection with nine outdoor worship gatherings (see a related CECC analysis for more information).

    • According to CAA (10 May 11, in Chinese), the Associated Press (11 May 11, via Yahoo!; 11 May 11, via Washington Post), Deutsche Welle (11 May 11, in Chinese), and RFA (11 May 11, in Chinese) on May 10, 2011, public security officers in Zhengzhou city, Henan province, interrupted a Bible study gathering of members of the CHCA and took into custody 49 people, including Zhang Jili, Zhang Qing'an, Zhang Guangxia, Korean pastor Jin Yongzhe (pinyin name), and Jin's wife Li Sha. According to CAA (16 April 11, in Chinese; 17 April 11, in English; 17 April 11, in Chinese; 23 April 11, in English) and RFA (21 April 11, in Chinese), Zhang Jili, Zhang Qing'an, and Zhang Guangxia were previously detained in April after having contact with CHCA leaders. All but Jin and Li were released as of May 11, according to CAA (11 May 11, in English). According to CAA (26 May 11, in Chinese), authorities had released Jin and Li by May 26.

    • According to CAA (23 April 11, in English), on April 23, 2011, authorities in Chengde prefecture, Hebei province, stopped Henan-based house church leader and pastor Zhang Mingxuan, Zhang's wife Xie Fenglan, and Beijing-based pastor Liu Fenggang as they traveled to Beijing to visit churches for Easter. Zhang reportedly is president of the CHCA. Officials reportedly held Zhang and Xie at a police station in Chengde for several hours before moving them to a hotel in Shijiazhuang city, Hebei, where they remained in custody. No further information regarding their whereabouts is available. Earlier in March, according to RFA (10 March 11, in Chinese), authorities in Henan province had forced Zhang to "travel" away from his hometown of Nanyang city, Henan. Reports do not indicate when he was allowed to return.

    • According to CAA (29 December 10, in Chinese; 30 December 10, in English), in December 2010, authorities in Jiaozhou city, Shandong province, denied a house church access to the site where it had been meeting. The church is led by Zhan Gang, reportedly a vice president of the CHCA.

    • Since November 1, 2010, public security officers in Beijing have prevented Fan Yafeng from leaving his home (see a related CECC analysis for more information). Fan is a prominent legal scholar, religious freedom advocate, house church leader, and director of a non-governmental organization. The CAA 2010 Annual Report states that Fan has played an important role in promoting legal activism among members of house church congregations throughout China.
    For more information on conditions for Protestants in China, see Section II—Freedom of Religion in the CECC's 2010 Annual Report.

    Source: -See Summary (2011-05-05 ) | Posted on: 2011-07-01  
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    Mongols Protest in Inner Mongolia After Clashes Over Grasslands Use, Mining Operations

    July 1, 2011

    Protests occurred in Inner Mongolia between May 23 and May 31, 2011, following two separate confrontations between workers from mining operations (some reportedly Han Chinese) and herders and residents near the mining operations (reportedly including Mongols and at least one Manchu), during which workers reportedly killed a herder and resident. Protesters called on authorities to prosecute the alleged murderers and also called for protecting herders' rights and Mongol culture. Authorities reportedly clashed with protesters in one case and have taken some protesters into detention. Authorities addressed some of the protesters' grievances but did not acknowledge a connection between the protests and official restrictions on Mongol culture. In the aftermath of the protests, security reportedly remains tight.

    Introduction
    Protests occurred in cities and county-level areas across the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) between May 23 and May 31, 2011, following two separate confrontations in mid-May between workers from mining operations (some reportedly Han Chinese) and herders and residents near the mining operations (reportedly including Mongols and at least one Manchu) who were protesting the mining. In each case, workers from the mining company reportedly killed one person: a Mongol herder killed in the first case and a Manchu resident killed in the second. Following the incidents, Mongols held a series of demonstrations reportedly calling for authorities to prosecute the alleged murderer of the Mongol herder (reports vary on the connection between the protests and the second murder of the Manchu man), as well as protesting government curbs on grasslands use and Mongol culture. Protests reportedly appeared to be peaceful and numbered mostly in the hundreds, though protests on two days reportedly had protesters in the thousands, many of whom were students. Authorities reportedly clashed with protesters in one case and reportedly have taken dozens of protesters into detention, as well as people believed to be involved in organizing the protests.

    In the aftermath of the protests, residents in the IMAR reported that security in the region remained tight, with high numbers of security forces stationed in the area and curbs on the Internet and other communication tools. Authorities have acknowledged some of the protesters' grievances in a way unseen during widescale protests and riots in Tibetan areas and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2008 and 2009, but also have cast some blame on activists and overseas groups they deemed to have contributed to social unrest through the protests. Authorities have not acknowledged any connection between the protests and official curbs on Mongol culture. In June, authorities in the IMAR sentenced the suspects in both murder cases. Authorities also announced more economic support for the region, while reporting on steps to convey the government perspective on the protests.

    "5-11" and "5-15" Incidents
    Late on May 10, 2011, Mongol herders in West (Right) Ujumqin Banner (an administrative area equivalent to a county, transliterated into Mandarin as Xiwuzhumuqin qi), in Xilingol League (an administrative area equivalent to a prefecture, transliterated as Xilinguolei meng) reportedly clashed with workers at a mining company, according to overseas and Chinese government reports. (See, e.g., a May 17 report from the West Ujumqin Banner government Web site (cached), May 19 report from the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), and May 29 report from the IMAR Public Security Department.) The West Ujumqin report said that herders affected by dust and noise from mining freight vehicles passing through grasslands, including at night, attempted to block passage of the vehicles that evening. The SMHRIC report described the clash as a "day long confrontation" involving over 40 herders and hundreds of mining company workers, after petitioning efforts by the herders reportedly had failed to stop coal trucks from trespassing through the grasslands. The IMAR Public Security Bureau report said the confrontation began during the day, involving nearly 20 herders, and that people's police officers stopped a fight between a herder named Mergen and workers named Li and Lu. Afterward, however, the two workers reportedly hit Mergen with a vehicle, resulting in his death at the scene, according to the report. PSB officials received news of the fight early on May 11 and have labeled the incident the "5-11" case.

    On May 15, 2011, residents in Abag Banner (Abaga qi), Xilingol, also clashed with coal mining workers while reportedly attempting to stop mining operations for a second day in a row, according to a May 18 report from the Xilingol Government Web site (cached) and the report from the IMAR Public Security Department. Residents were protesting dust, noise, and water issues connected to the mining operations, according to the reports. Clashes escalated during the day, though some were staved off by police, according to the IMAR Public Security Department, and a forklift driver reportedly hit Yan Wenlong with his vehicle. Yan died at the scene. (Yan is identified by Xinhua, via China Internet Information Center, May 30, as an ethnic Mongol but identified by reports from the Xilingol government, containing more detailed information on Yan, as Manchu. See the May 18 report and a May 26 report (cached). Chinese sources do not identify the residents as herders.) Other people reportedly were injured that day (14 people according to Xinhua, 7 according to the sources from within the IMAR).

    Protests Begin May 23
    Following the incidents, herders—reportedly in the hundreds—protested in West Ujumqin Banner on May 23. Protests occurred again on May 25, with many student participants, and reportedly continued daily or almost daily through May 31. Reports indicate that protests typically numbered in the hundreds, though the May 25 and 26 protests reportedly numbered in the thousands. Sites of protest included Xilinhot municipality, Xilingol (May 25); Bordered Yellow Banner (Xianghuang qi, Huveed Shar), East (Left) Ujumqin Banners, Xilingol, and Alxa League (Alashan) (May 26); Plain Blue Banner (Zhenglan qi, Shuluun Huh) in Xilingol and Ordos municipality (May 27); Chifeng (Ulanhad )(May 28); and IMAR capital Hohhot (May 30, May 31). For reporting on the protests, see, e.g., reports from the SMHRIC (May 23, May 25, May 26, May 27, May 28, May 29, May 30, June 1, June 4), Reuters (May 27), Agence France-Presse (AFP) (May 25, via Google; May 27, via Sino Daily), and Radio Free Asia (RFA) (May 25, May 26, May 27, June 1).

    Reports from the SMHRIC and elsewhere (see, e.g., RFA reports), based on sources in the region and slogans shouted at the protests, connected the events to the May 10 murder of Mongol herder Mergen as well as to broader grievances over official curbs on Mongols' rights, including restrictions on grasslands use. A May 30 New York Times article linked both the May 10 and May 15 alleged murders to the protests, and authorities within the IMAR have cited both events as sources of unrest in the region. (See below for more information on official reactions to the alleged murders and protests.)

    Based on reporting on the protests, cited above, protests appeared to be peaceful and some appear to have been dispersed quickly (SMHRIC May 29, NY Times). In some cases, authorities reportedly took people into detention, including more than 30 or 40 people on May 27 (SMHRIC, May 28, May 30; RFA, May 27) and approximately 50 in Hohhot (SMHRIC, June 4, describing a total of at least 90 people from Xilingol and Hohhot who reportedly remained in detention as of that date). Authorities also reportedly took into custody university lecturers and students in the aftermath of the protests, including three teachers who were formally detained (RFA, June 7). According to a June 17 report from SMHRIC, most of "a hundred or more" protesters who were "arrested, detained and beaten," remained in detention as of that report's publication. During the protests, sources reported heavy police presence and intervention in some cases (Reuters, May 27, SMHRIC, May 27; NY Times), and an unconfirmed report said that police drove a car into protesters on May 27, injuring four people (SMHRIC, May 27). Residents inside the IMAR reported on the presence of roadblocks in some areas (AFP, May 27) as well as "martial law" (Reuters, May 27), although this could not be confirmed and may have been used by residents to indicate the heavier security.

    Sources cited in multiple overseas reports indicated students at universities and other schools in the IMAR were not allowed to leave campus. (See, e.g., RFA, May 31; AFP, May 30, via Yahoo; SMHRIC, May 30). On May 31, Inner Mongolia Normal University posted a notice requiring students to apply to leave the campus. Earlier, the IMAR Education Department issued a notice to education bureaus in the region noting that under "incitement" from a few people with ulterior motives following the reported murders, some ethnic minority students collectively petitioned out of "desire to understand what really happened," and authorities were able to make most students "understand" the situation, according to a copy of the notice posted May 28 on the Web site of the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University (cached). The notice called for schools to take responsibility for students and organize activities within the schools. Authorities also took other steps to prevent other people from participating. The Xilinhot Civil Affairs Bureau held a meeting for cadres in its bureau, instructing them not to participate in the protests. The meeting also provided information on the "5-11" and "5-15" incidents, called on cadres to grasp "public opinion guidance," and suggested that heads of households carry out "ideology work" directed at their children, according to a May 30 report on the Xilinhot Civil Affairs Bureau Web site.

    Response of Government Authorities in China
    As authorities curbed protests and increased security in the region, official sources appeared to acknowledge some of the protesters' concerns stemming from the fights and murders earlier in the month, but they did not address broader grievances over curbs on Mongol culture. Authorities also cast blame on people deemed to agitate unrest, including overseas groups. A PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson reportedly said that authorities "will respond positively" to the "reasonable claims by the people," according to a June 1 BBC report, but criticized "those overseas trying to play up this incident for ulterior motives..." A May 31 editorial from the Global Times, which operates under the People's Daily, the official news media of the Communist Party, said that "some of [the protesters'] requests" were "reasonable," while stating that the protests were "not a politically driven demonstration" but rather part of "social conflicts" that occur throughout China. The Communist Party head of Xilingol reportedly described the presence of "mass incidents" in the region as "mainly premeditated, organised and instigated by some people both within and outside our borders with ulterior motives," according to a May 30 AFP report, via Yahoo.

    In the aftermath of the protests, authorities reportedly continue to enforce a range of security measures, including widescale deployment of armed security and military forces, according to sources and a document cited by overseas media (SMHRIC, June 4; RFA, June 5). The heightened security measures also coincide with the 22nd anniversary of the Chinese government's violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement.

    In addition, authorities prosecuted suspects in both murders. In the "5-11" cases, West Ujumqin public security bureau officers formally arrested two murder suspects, Li Lindong and Lu Xiangdong, on May 21, along with two people suspected of impeding operation of official business. By May 26, the case was under investigation by the Xilingol procuratorate, according to the May 29 report from the IMAR Public Security Department. The Xilingol Intermediate People's Court tried and sentenced Li to death and Lu to life in prison on June 8, according to a Xinhua report from that day (via China Daily). In the "5-15" case, authorities reported that they took "compulsory measures" against 15 people from the mining operations, including 1 person, Sun Shuning, arrested as a murder suspect, 2 criminally detained for intentional injury, and 12 placed in administrative detention on suspicion of picking fights, according to the IMAR Public Security Department report. In addition, authorities "warned" or "reprimanded" five residents who had engaged in "extreme" behavior. The Xilingol Intermediate People's Court tried and sentenced Sun to death on June 21 for the murder of Yan Wenlong, according to a Xinhua report (via Investor's Business Daily, June 21). According to an earlier report from Inner Mongolia Daily, via Northern News, May 28, IMAR Party Secretary Hu Chunhua made reference to both incidents in a meeting reportedly intended to address students' and teachers' uncertainties as to their "understanding" and "ideology" regarding recent events, and he pledged to handle criminal suspects in accordance with the law.

    Authorities in the IMAR also pledged to carry out a broader one-month cleanup of mining industries and to shut down mines that infringe on the rights of herding communities, according to a Xinhua report (via China Daily, June 1). According to the May 26 report on the Xilingol government Web site, authorities in Abag Banner said they had closed the mining operations involved in the Yan Wenlong case, would investigate others, and investigate the influence of mining operations on residents' lives. IMAR authorities also pledged 78.8 billion yuan (US$12.2 million) in economic support for the region, including in pastoral areas, in fields such as infrastructure and education, according to a May 29 Xinhua report. The report cited the funding as a means to support projects in the region to raise incomes, as well as resettle herders. The funding builds on existing development programs in the region and educational programs to support minority education. (See the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2009 Annual Report for additional information). The following month, at an executive meeting of the State Council on June 15, officials called for steps to promote the region's economic development and environment, as well as to "promote ethnic unity and social stability," according to a June 16 Xinhua report.

    Controls over Internet and Press
    As protests continued, authorities reportedly tightened controls over social media, searched the residences of Web site administrators, interrogated some bloggers and Internet users, shut down chat rooms, and blocked access to Web sites that mentioned the protests. (See, e.g., SMHRIC, May 27, May 28; Guardian, May 30). Foreign journalists have reported being blocked from reporting in some areas and being harassed or interrogated by authorities (AFP, May 30; Guardian, May 27; Reporters without Borders, May 31). In the aftermath of the protests, SMHRIC reported (June 4) that most Mongolian-language Web sites have been closed or restricted in their functions, while phone communication has been restricted. IMAR residents also reported limited access to the Internet and text messaging (Associated Press, via Kansas City Star, June 1).

    Curbs on Grasslands Use
    The recent protests have drawn a spotlight on longstanding grasslands policies in the IMAR. As noted in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2010 and 2009 Annual Reports and related analysis, programs in the IMAR and elsewhere in China have imposed grazing bans, for the stated purpose of improving grasslands ecology, and required some herders to resettle from grasslands and abandon pastoral livelihoods. Scholars have questioned the efficacy of the policies in ameliorating grasslands degradation, while communities affected—including Mongols, Tibetans, and Kazakhs—have reported forced resettlement, inadequate compensation, minimal recourse for grievances, and poor living conditions, along with challenges in upholding traditional pastoral livelihoods and preserving their cultures. Protests connected to grasslands use have taken place in the past in the IMAR (see, e.g., SMHRIC, September 3, 2009). At a State Council meeting on grasslands policy in April 2011, authorities called for "more forceful policy measures" for "speeding up development of pastoral areas, ensuring the state's ecological security, and promoting ethnic unity and border stability," along with "a more vigorous employment policy" for "encouraging herders to change [modes of] production and occupations." In addition, central government authorities launched a system in 2011 to provide new subsidies and awards for abiding by grazing bans, which IMAR authorities reported implementing in May, according to a May 31 People's Daily article. In late 2010, an official in Xilingol stated that authorities would resettle at least 100,000 herders away from grasslands, while allowing 50,000 herders to stay in pastoral areas to "retain the traditional characteristics of the grassland culture," according to a November 6, 2010, Xinhua report.

    For more information on conditions in the IMAR, see Section II—Ethnic Minority Rights in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.


    Source: -See Summary (2011-06-03 ) | Posted on: 2011-07-01  
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    Ministry of Health Issues Draft Ban on the Use of BPA in Infant Food Containers (Update)

    May 24, 2011

    On April 20, 2011, the Ministry of Health posted on its Web site a draft document that would ban the import or manufacture of containers for infants' food, including baby bottles, which contain BPA, starting June 1, 2011, and that would ban the sale in China of such products as of September 1, 2011. In January, the Ministry of Health had issued a letter soliciting comments on draft lists of additives and resins used in food packaging materials, which included a ban on BPA in packaging for infant foods. China's proposed ban follows similar bans in the European Union and Canada.

    On April 20, 2011, the Ministry of Health (MOH) posted on its Web site a Letter Soliciting Opinions on Announcement Banning the Use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in Infant Food Containers. The letter asks for comments on an attached draft announcement by April 29, and is addressed to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), and the Food Safety Commission. The announcement, which in its final form would be issued jointly by MOH, MIIT, MOFCOM, SAIC, AQSIQ, and SFDA, states that BPA is widely used in production of chemical products and food-related products, such as food packaging and containers, and that the BPA can leach into the food itself, which may pose a risk to food safety. The draft announcement notes that scientific research had not yet shown the trace amounts of BPA leaking from the products to be harmful, but that infants belong to a special class of persons. Therefore, under the terms of the announcement, the manufacture or import of infant food containers, such as milk bottles, containing BPA would be banned as of June 1, 2011, and the sale of such products in China would not be allowed starting on September 1, 2011.

    The April letter follows another MOH letter dated January 31, 2011, soliciting comments on two draft lists of substances (appended to the letter) approved for use in food packaging materials, one list of 196 additives and the other of 116 resins. The Ministry of Health issued the January letter "based on the 'Food Safety Law' and its implementing regulations, and in accordance with the Ministry of Health and seven departments' 'Circular on Launching Work on Food Packaging Materials.'" (See the CECC 2009 Annual Report, pp. 221–223, and 2010 Annual Report, p. 185.) The draft list of 116 allowable resins imposes restrictions on the use of BPA in packaging, limiting the maximum residual amount of BPA in most products used for food packaging. Further, in the list of resins, categories 40, 42, 43, and 44 forbid the use of BPA in packaging material that comes into contact with food meant for consumption by infants, and specifically require that usage must comply with product safety standards. The public comment period on the draft lists closed on March 11, 2011.

    According to a March 11 report on the Chinese Web site VJiao.com, which includes reporting from the Chinese newspaper Economic Information Daily, the European ban on BPA in baby bottles prompted a great deal of discussion in China, including in a blog post by a writer of popular science concerning BPA, who openly hinted that trace amounts of BPA in food containers made of polycarbonate plastic (PC), such as teapots, water cups, or baby bottles, can leach out, especially when the containers come into contact with acidic or hot substances. The report noted that news of a European ban on BPA in baby bottles had caused concern among mothers in China. The European Union (EU) has banned the manufacture in the EU of baby bottles containing BPA as of March 1, 2011, and the marketing in, or importing into, the EU of such products as of June 1. (See EU press release concerning the ban.) The same report referred to Canada's 2008 total ban on the use of BPA in any food containers and restrictions on the use of BPA in infant care products in some jurisdictions in the United States. The report notes that the secretary general of China's International Food Packaging Association, Dong Jinshi, had indicated in March that official regulations could be announced before June 1, 2011.

    According to a March 2 Beijing News article, most baby bottles in China that are made of PC contain BPA. A Beijing news reporter had visited Beijing markets, and found that many infant food and drinks containers for sale were made of PC, but that the vast majority made in China did not indicate whether they contained BPA. Existing regulations appear to permit, or at least do not prohibit, the use of BPA in these products. The Shanghai Daily, in an April 22 article, reported that some local baby bottle producers in Shanghai had stopped using BPA in baby bottles in March, and that the authorities in Shanghai were prepared to "launch an inspection campaign" to ensure that bottles on the market comply with a ban once it comes into effect.

    Currently, 1994 health standards for substances used in food containers and food packaging materials are in effect. The 1994 standards include limits on BPA amounts, but do not specifically address use in infant food containers, according to the March 11 report. The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection's Chemical Registration Center maintains a list of toxic chemicals subject to import and export restrictions and BPA is not included on the list.

    Update—June 9, 2011: The Chinese government has banned the manufacture of infant milk bottles made of polycarbonate and other infant milk bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA). The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced the ban on May 30 in a post on the MOH Web site titled "Announcement from Six Departments Including the Ministry of Health on Banning the Use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in Baby Bottles." According to the announcement, the ban on the manufacture of such products became effective June 1, 2011, and a ban on the import and sale of such products will be effective starting September 1, 2011. The language used in this notice differs from a previous MOH draft announcement posted April 20, which stated that a ban on the manufacture or import of infant food containers containing BPA would be prohibited starting June 1, and a ban on the sale of such products would be effective starting September 1.
    The May MOH announcement also states that:
    • beginning September 1, 2011, manufacturers or importers "will be responsible for a recall";

    • the use of BPA in food packaging materials and containers other than baby bottles must comply with the relevant existing national food safety standards and regulations;

    • manufacturers of food packaging and other containers must comply with the requirements of the MOH announcement, and the relevant industry associations must strengthen the supervision and self-regulation of the industry; and

    • bureaus that oversee food safety must increase their enforcement of supervision, strengthen the supervision and inspection of the manufacture of baby bottles, and investigate and punish illegal manufacturing activity that does not comply with the MOH's announcement.
    The Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) released a notice on its Web site on May 31, 2011, indicating that bureaus of quality and technical supervision will revoke the licenses for production of polycarbonate milk bottles. It further stipulates that manufacturers must take responsibility for recalling polycarbonate infant milk bottles and other infant milk bottles that contain BPA in accordance with the MOH announcement.
    For Chinese media reports on the ban, see Xinhua (1 June 11) and the Global Times (1 June 11).



    Source: -See Summary (2011-04-26 ) | Posted on: 2011-06-09  
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    Authorities Intensify Harassment of Activists Around 22nd Anniversary of the Chinese Government's Violent Suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Democracy Movement

    June 3, 2011

    In the lead-up to the 22nd anniversary of the Chinese government's violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement, authorities in China have stepped up monitoring and intimidation of rights activists, and prevented others from holding a memorial event. These latest developments occur against the backdrop of a broad crackdown against rights defenders, lawyers, artists, and bloggers in what international observers have described as one of the harshest crackdowns in years.

    Officials in Beijing and elsewhere in China reportedly interrogated activists, restricted their movements, and warned them not to write articles about the Tiananmen democracy protests, give media interviews, or participate in public gatherings in the period around June 4, according to a report covering June 1-2, 2011, by the non-governmental organization Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). These activists included Zha Jianguo, a democracy activist who was interrogated by state security officers on June 1, and Xia Yeliang, an economics professor at Peking University. Beijing police held Zhao Lianhai, a prominent advocate for children poisoned by tainted milk, and his family at a snack shop for several hours before releasing them. When they returned home they reportedly discovered that their electricity had been cut off. CHRD reported that on June 2, others, including the activist and artist Chen Yunfei, were placed under "soft detention," a form of unlawful home confinement. Officials in Guiyang city, Guizhou province reportedly forced dissident Li Renke to travel out of the city and told him that other dissidents in the area had been taken away.

    In a June 3 report, CHRD noted additional cases of harassment, including that of Bao Tong, the former aide to Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. CHRD said that state security officers had taken Bao and his wife away on June 1 in Beijing and that their whereabouts were not known. CHRD also said that after a meeting with police in Xian city, Shaanxi province, the democracy activist Yang Hai was forced to take a "tour" (luyou) away from his home.

    In a May 23 report, Radio Free Asia (RFA) interviewed an unnamed Beijing activist, who said police called him on May 23 for "a chat." The activist described an increasingly tense environment in Beijing with plainclothes police taking positions at intersections around Tiananmen Square, adding "[the police] have even started extending out to the suburbs." A petitioner surnamed Liu told RFA: "There are a lot of people under surveillance back in their hometowns right now, because it's nearly June 4. I don't know the exact number, but they are being watched by the neighborhood committees, the local security patrols, and the police." On June 2, RFA reported that police in Shanghai dispersed some 200 petitioners dressed in white who attempted to enter a city park to hold a memorial for victims of the crackdown on the Tiananmen protests.

    In other developments related to this year's anniversary, Human Rights in China released on May 30, an essay by the Tiananmen Mothers, a group representing Tiananmen victims. The essay said that in February and April 2011 public security officials initiated contact with one victim's family to discuss compensation. The essay noted, however, that the officials "did not speak of making the truth public, carrying out judicial investigations, or providing an explanation for the case of each victim. Instead, they only raised the question of how much to pay, emphasizing that this was meant for that individual case and not for the families in the group as a whole." The Tiananmen Mothers called for "removing all surveillance and personal restrictions imposed upon the June Fourth victims and their families; allowing the families of the dead to mourn their loved ones without interference; and the relevant government departments' providing pure humanitarian assistance to the victims experiencing hardships." In its June 3 report, CHRD said that starting on June 1, two of the Tiananmen Mothers, Ding Zilin and Zhang Xianling, were being held under "soft detention."

    These latest detentions have occurred against the backdrop of a broad crackdown against rights defenders, lawyers, artists, and bloggers in what international observers have described as one of the harshest crackdowns in years. "The Chinese government's refusal to take responsibility for the massacre of unarmed civilians in June 1989 laid the foundation for the state impunity behind the current crackdown on dissent," according to a June 1 report by Human Rights Watch.


    Source: -See Summary (2011-06-03 ) | Posted on: 2011-06-06  
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    Ethnic Minority Population Planning Program Expands to More Areas in Xinjiang

    June 3, 2011

    Authorities in the far western region of Xinjiang have expanded a program that rewards ethnic minority couples for having fewer children than permitted under the region's regulation on population planning, now making the program applicable to all counties and cities in Xinjiang where rural ethnic minorities comprise 50 percent or more of the population. The region's regulation on population planning permits rural ethnic minority couples to have up to three children, and the reward program awards couples that forego this maximum number of permitted births. The expansion of the program builds on similar reward systems present throughout China, while intensifying a regional focus on ethnic minority households. In addition to rewarding families that have fewer births, authorities in the XUAR and elsewhere in China also continue to enforce penalties against people who have more children than permitted under population planning requirements.

    The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) government has continued to expand a program of rewarding ethnic minority households that have fewer children than allowed under the region's regulation on population and family planning, building on initiatives throughout China to reward fewer births while intensifying a regional focus on ethnic minority households. Among various population planning reward programs in place in the region, a program in place since 2007 has rewarded rural ethnic minority couples that have fewer than the three children permitted under the XUAR Regulation on Population and Family Planning (Article 15), based on a description of the program posted September 4, 2008, on the Zepu (Poskam) county, Kashgar district, government Web site.

    The reward program initially applied to three prefecture-level areas in the southern XUAR: Kashgar district, Aqsu district, and the Qizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture, according to the description. In 2009, authorities expanded the program to 26 additional counties, mainly targeting rural ethnic minority households who already have two children and have "been certified" (lingzheng) as voluntarily foregoing a third birth [shengyu liang tai hou zhudong fangqi di san tai], according to information in a November 2, 2009, Xinhua report and a March 17, 2011, Tianshan Net report. (See also a previous Congressional-Executive Commission on China analysis for more information on the 2009 program expansion.) According to the 2011 Tianshan Net report, the program will now apply to all counties or cities where rural ethnic minorities comprise 50 percent or more of the population.

    The expansion of the program builds on previous efforts in the XUAR to address population planning work among communities designated as ethnic minorities and to implement programs that reward fewer births. In 2006, the XUAR government reported a rate of population increase that was among the highest in China, noting a "relatively high" birth rate in minority areas as well as a fast growth rate among groups such as migrants. (See a CECC analysis and related January 24, 2006, Tianshan Net report for additional information.) The government reported that year that it would focus the region's population planning work on rural areas in the southern XUAR, which have predominantly ethnic minority populations. The government also pledged to keep the region's population within 22 million people by the end of 2010. According to information from China's 2010 national census, the region's population was 21.81 million by the end of October 2010, an increase of 0.11 percent from the 2000 census, according to an April 29, 2011, Xinhua article. (Nationwide, the population increased by an average 0.57 percent, according to another April 29, 2011, Xinhua article.) The region began pilot work in 2005 to "encourage and reward" compliance with population planning requirements and reported in 2006 on taking the "first steps" in moving from "emphasis on punishing multiple births" to "emphasis on encouraging and rewarding fewer births."

    In the XUAR and throughout China, however, authorities continue to enforce regulations that punish non-compliance with population planning requirements, at the same time they implement systems to reward fewer births. (See Section II—Population Planning in the CECC 2010 Annual Report for additional information.) In addition, authorities also have imposed punishments that lack basis in law. In one case from the XUAR in 2008, authorities reportedly planned to require a woman in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture to undergo an abortion against her will for exceeding the number of permitted births under the XUAR Regulation on Population and Family Planning. Although those in violation of the regulation are required to pay "social compensation fees," there is no stipulation in the regulation that pregnancies must be terminated if the fee cannot be paid. Both national law and XUAR legal regulations provide sanctions for government officials who infringe on citizens' rights or abuse their power in carrying out population planning requirements, but it is unclear if local authorities faced penalties for their plans—eventually canceled—to subject the woman to a forced abortion.

    For more information on conditions in the XUAR and on population planning policy, see Section II—Population Planning and Section IV—Xinjiang in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.



    Source: -See Summary (2011-04-27 ) | Posted on: 2011-06-06  
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    Statement of CECC Cochairman Sherrod Brown on the 22nd Anniversary of the Chinese Government's Violent Suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democracy Protests

    June 3, 2011

    It has been 22 years since the Chinese government violently suppressed the Chinese people’s wishes for democracy and freedom in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, 1989. Chinese citizens from all walks of life peacefully demonstrated in Beijing and throughout China for political reform, respect for universal freedoms of speech and assembly, and an end to government corruption. In response, the Chinese government ordered the People’s Liberation Army to put down the demonstrations and to clear the Square by force—lethal force. Estimates of those killed ranged from the hundreds to the thousands, with many more injured and arrested. The Chinese government has suppressed media and online discussion of Tiananmen, denying the Chinese people their right to know and to demand accountability for what happened.

    More than two decades later, the Chinese people continue to desire freedom and universal human rights, only to be denied them by the Chinese government. In recent months, Chinese officials launched one of the harshest crackdowns in years against rights defenders, reform advocates, lawyers, petitioners, writers, artists, and Internet bloggers. Those targeted include citizens who support democracy and freedom and who advocated on behalf of victims of earthquakes, disease, and tainted food, and child laborers, persecuted religious groups, and political dissidents.

    These courageous citizens deserve our support and I urge the Chinese government to cease harassing, detaining, and “disappearing” such citizens, and to release those detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly. I urge the Chinese government to end the harassment and detention of and discrimination against those involved in the 1989 protests and their families, permit Chinese citizens to freely commemorate and share information about Tiananmen, and provide a full public accounting of the government’s actions in 1989. Under China’s international human rights commitments and under Chinese law, Chinese citizens are entitled to the universal freedoms of speech, assembly, association, and religion. The Chinese government should ensure the protection of these rights for which Chinese citizens have struggled for so long, and which they, like all people, so richly deserve.



    Source: -See Summary (2011-06-03 ) | Posted on: 2011-06-03  
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    Ganzi Regulations on "Tibetan Buddhist Affairs" Moving Toward Approval

    May 20, 2011

    Regulatory measures for "Tibetan Buddhist Affairs" in Ganzi (Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Sichuan province, are moving through the legislative process toward approval. According to information available in the Commission's Political Prisoner Database (PPD), more than half of monastic political detentions in TAPs outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) during the period since March 2008—when Tibetan protests (and some rioting) spread across the Tibetan plateau—have been in Ganzi TAP. A March 2011 report by this Commission demonstrated a correlation between the number of detentions in each TAP on or after March 10, 2008, and the extensiveness of regulatory measures' provisions on punishment. The Commission has not yet located text of the Ganzi regulatory measures online. However, if the correlation found for other TAP regulations remains valid in Ganzi TAP, then Ganzi monks and nuns could face further increases in the repressive application of administrative and criminal punishments. New regulatory measures on "Tibetan Buddhist affairs" already in effect in 7 of the 10 TAPs outside the TAR substantially increase state infringement of "freedom of religious belief" in Article 36 of China's Constitution by subordinating "Tibetan Buddhist affairs" to government regulations that enforce Communist Party policy.

    Sichuan People's Congress Standing Committee To Discuss Regulations in Late May

    On May 3, 2011, the leadership of the Sichuan People's Congress Standing Committee decided that the Standing Committee would discuss at a May 25 to 27 meeting legislative matters including a report on the Ganzi TAP Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations (Ganzi Regulations), according to a May 4 Xinhua report. The 2011 Sichuan Province People's Congress Legislation Plan, dated February 21 and posted on the Web site of the Sichuan People's Congress Standing Committee on March 31, listed approval of the Ganzi Measures as part of the 2011 agenda. The Commission's March 2011 report noted that in June 2010 the Ganzi People's Congress Standing Committee was considering a report on a draft of the Ganzi Regulations (Ganzi Daily, reprinted in Chinese Buddhism Online). China's Constitution (Article 116) and Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law (Article 19) require an ethnic autonomous prefecture to submit draft regulations for approval to the standing committee of the provincial-level people's congress where the prefecture is located before the regulations can take effect.

    Potential Implications for Ganzi TAP Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries

    Table 3 in the Commission's March 2011 report demonstrated a correlation between the extensiveness of the regulatory measures' provisions on punishment (detailed in Table 2 of the report) and the number of Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns, teachers, or trulkus (teachers whom Tibetan Buddhists believe are reincarnations) known to have been detained or imprisoned in each TAP on or after March 10, 2008. If that correlation remains valid in Ganzi TAP—the site of more than half of Tibetan monastic political detentions outside the TAR since March 2008, based on PPD data as of May 12, 2011—then Ganzi monks and nuns could face further increases in the repressive application of administrative and criminal punishments. (According to PPD data on May 12, of 934 Tibetan political detentions recorded on or after March 10, 2008, 535 were of monks, nuns, teachers, and trulkus. Of those 535, 135 were detained in the TAR and 400 were detained outside the TAR. Of the 400 detained outside the TAR, 205 were detained in Ganzi TAP. PPD data on Tibetan political detention since March 2008 are certain to be far from complete.)

    If the structure and content of the Ganzi Regulations are similar to the seven prefectural-level regulatory measures analyzed in the Commission's March 2011 report, the Ganzi Regulations may implement measures that include:
    • Increasing the authority of Buddhist Associations (BAs)—institutional links between Tibetan Buddhist institutions and the Chinese government and Party that facilitate the exercise of government and Party authority over Tibetan Buddhist activity;
    • Closer monitoring and supervision of each monastery's Democratic Management Committee (DMC)—a monastic group legally obligated to ensure that monks, nuns, and teachers obey government laws, regulations, and policies;
    • Implementing a requirement for DMCs to apply to BAs for a fixed quota on the number of monks or nuns who may reside at a monastery or nunnery;
    • Strengthening BA and government control over "religious personnel" who wish to travel for the purpose of religious teaching or study;
    • Significant expansion of township-level government author