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U.S. Department of State, 2013 Human Rights in China

This report is produced annually by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

January 1, 2013

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Executive Summary
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. China completed its once-in-a-decade leadership transition in March, and Xi Jinping holds the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary, state president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Civilian authorities generally maintained control of the military and internal security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses.

Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public interest issues, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive cases, were routine. Increasingly officials employed harassment, intimidation, and prosecution of family members and associates to retaliate against rights advocates and defenders. Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent public expression of independent opinions. Authorities implemented new measures to control and censor the internet and particularly targeted bloggers with large numbers of followers, leading some to close their online accounts. Public-interest law firms continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure. There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. These minorities also faced harsh restrictions on movement. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such as the visit of foreign officials, national meetings, and commemorations.

As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government, and citizens had limited forms of redress against official abuse. 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, bloggers, 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 return PRC citizens forcibly; widespread corruption; 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; lack of protection for workers’ right to strike; forced and child labor; and poor enforcement of wage, overtime, and occupational safety and health laws.

Although authorities prosecuted a number of abuses of power, particularly with regard to corruption, in many cases the internal disciplinary procedures of the CCP were opaque and only selectively applied to senior officials. Citizens who promoted efforts to combat corruption were themselves detained and arrested. For example, throughout the year, NGO sources reported that authorities arrested at least 29 persons associated with the New Citizens Movement on charges stemming from activities to promote good governance.

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