Happy Lunar New Year from the USC US-China Institute!
U.S. Department of State, 2006 Human Rights in China, March 6, 2007
This report is produced annually by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which, as specified in its constitution, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the paramount source of power. Party members hold almost all top government, police, and military positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 24-member political bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its nine-member standing committee. General Secretary Hu Jintao holds the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary, president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. The party's authority rested primarily on the government's ability to maintain social stability; appeals to nationalism and patriotism; party control of personnel, media, and the security apparatus; and continued improvement in the living standards of most of the country's 1.3 billion citizens. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
Although the constitution asserts that "the state respects and preserves human rights," the government's human rights record remained poor, and in certain areas deteriorated. There were an increased number of high-profile cases involving the monitoring, harassment, detention, arrest, and imprisonment of journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under law. The government tightened restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, including stricter control and censorship of the Internet. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), both local and international, continued to face increased scrutiny and restrictions. As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government. Other serious human rights abuses included instances of extrajudicial killings; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; and the use of forced labor, including prison labor. Legal reforms continued to stall, as the party and state exercised strict political control of courts and judges, and maintained closed trials and administrative detention. Executions often took place on the day of conviction or immediately after the denial of an appeal. A lack of due process and new restrictions on lawyers further limited progress toward rule of law. Individuals and groups, especially those considered politically sensitive, continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble; their freedom to practice religion, including strengthened enforcement of religious affairs regulations implemented in 2005; and their freedom to travel. The government continued its coercive birth limitation policy, in some cases resulting in forced abortion and sterilization.
The government failed to adequately protect refugees, and the forced repatriation of North Koreans continued to be a grave problem. Serious social conditions that affected human rights included endemic corruption, trafficking in persons, and discrimination against women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. The government continued its severe cultural and religious repression of minorities in Tibetan areas and Xinjiang; in Xinjiang, trials and executions of Uighurs charged with separatism continued.
The government continued to pursue some criminal and judicial reforms. China's highest court, the Supreme People's Court (SPC), began implementing new appellate procedures for hearing death penalty cases and took concrete steps towards reclaiming the death penalty review power from provincial courts. In July the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) issued new regulations that detail criteria for prosecuting official abuses of power, and clarified that police are accountable when they use torture to coerce confessions.
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