The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount authority. CCP members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its seven-member Standing Committee. Xi Jinping holds two of the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission; during the March 2013 meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Xi was expected to assume the third key position by becoming president of the PRC. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the military and internal security forces.
Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in rights advocacy and public interest issues, were routine. Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. Efforts to silence and intimidate political activists and public interest lawyers continued to increase. Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance, “soft detention,” and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent the public voicing of independent opinions. Public interest law firms that took on sensitive cases continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure. There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and harsh restrictions on the movement of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such as the visit of foreign officials, sensitive anniversaries, and in the period leading up to the meeting of the 18th Party Congress in November.
As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government, and citizens had limited forms of redress against the government. Other human rights problems during the year included: extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process; enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, including prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities known as “black jails”; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; detention and harassment of lawyers, journalists, writers, dissidents, petitioners, and others who sought to exercise peacefully their rights under the law; a lack of due process in judicial proceedings; political control of courts and judges; closed trials; the use of administrative detention; restrictions on freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel; failure to protect refugees and asylum seekers; pressure on other countries to forcibly return PRC citizens to China; intense scrutiny of and restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination against women, minorities, and persons with disabilities; a coercive birth-limitation policy that in some cases resulted in forced abortion (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy) or forced sterilization; trafficking in persons; prohibitions on independent unions and a lack of protection for workers’ right to strike; and the use of forced labor, including prison labor. Corruption remained widespread.
Authorities prosecuted a number of abuses of power, particularly with regard to corruption. However, the internal disciplinary procedures of the CCP were opaque and only selectively applied to senior officials.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: