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US report says little progress on China rights

An anti-terrorism force including public security police and the armed police attend a joint exercise in Hami, northwest China's Xinjiang region on July 2, 2013
An anti-terrorism force including public security police and the armed police attend a joint exercise in Hami, northwest China's Xinjiang region on July 2, 2013

A US government commission said Thursday that China's human rights record has not improved under the country's new leadership and raised concerns on issues from minority rights to forced abortion.

In an annual report, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China cited initial "potentially hopeful signs" from the new leadership, which took power in March, but said it soon became clear it would not "engage with or even tolerate" public discussion on key reforms.

"Amid talk of a new round of economic reforms under President Xi Jinping, this year's report serves as an important reminder that China is no closer to granting its citizens basic human rights" than when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, said Senator Sherrod Brown, a co-chair of the commission known for his outspoken views on trade.

The report recommended that the United States press China to resume dialogue with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama or his representatives, amid a wave of self-immolations since 2009 of Tibetans protesting Beijing's rule.

Chinese authorities "failed this past year to respond to Tibetan grievances in a constructive manner or accept any accountability for Tibetan rejection of Chinese policies," it said.

The report said China also carried out forced abortions and sterilizations to enforce a population policy that restricts most citizens to bearing only one child.

The commission urged US policymakers to press China to "stop coercion and violence against women during population-planning implementation and to clarify provisions under Chinese law that would protect women against such rights abuses."

Representative Chris Smith, the other co-chair of the commission and a staunch opponent of abortion, praised the report as using "the strongest terms to date" on the "draconian" one-child policy.

The report also called on the United States to ask Chinese officials about indications they may reform its notorious re-education through labor camps, where inmates -- often from the banned Falungong spiritual movement -- have reported systematic physical abuse as they are pressured to renounce their beliefs.

The commission, set up by Congress in 2000, is comprised of members of the Senate, House of Representatives and President Barack Obama's administration, though the reports are not considered administration policy.

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