Jan. 19, 2006
retort Thursday to the latest report by Human Rights Watch
combined vitriol and vagueness, but officials admit there's room
The rights watchdog group listed more than a dozen different
areas where the People's Republic of China had noteworthy
The New York-based organization issued its 2006 World Review
Report Wednesday; few countries and no continent on the planet
escaped unscathed. Brad Adams, the Asia division director at
Human Rights Watch said: "Impunity from prosecution for human
rights violations is the most important problem in the region,
and the most widespread."
Adams believes the "Asian values" argument first articulated
nearly a decade ago by retired Singaporean statesman Lee
Kwan-Yew that argued human rights were different because
Confucianism had been discredited in Asia.
In a nutshell, Confucian ethics are based on understanding and
cultivating one's role and boundaries in five different types of
relationships: those between ruler and ruled, man and woman,
father and son, old and young, and friendship among peers.
"The abusive governments that used to hide behind that rhetoric
still commit the worst kinds of abuses without fear of
punishment," Adams claimed in the report's news release.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday, United Press
International asked spokesman Kong Quan if he had read the
report, what China's response was to the charges made, and if
the country had any room for improvement in its human rights
"I personally will not look at the report because Human Rights
Watch is highly biased. They've fabricated facts; they've
fabricated issues, and made groundless accusations against
China," was Kong's opening response.
The spokesman said "the Chinese constitution clearly provides
that the Chinese government respects and protects human rights"
and the collective leadership headed by Hu Jintao had made and
will continue to make "earnest efforts promoting the protection
of human rights."
Criticisms made by Human Rights Watch fell into four different
broad categories: authority, territories, societal and personal.
Each category listed different issues where China's record left
little doubt that serious problems exist for the Chinese
government to tackle.
In the authority grouping Human Rights Watch cataloged flaws in
the legal system such as the lack of an independent judiciary,
the changing of laws to curtail petition rights, and the
government's foreign policy support to unsavory regimes
including Sudan, Myanmar (Burma), Uzbekistan and North Korea.
Chinese territories mentioned as having human rights abuses
included the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Tibetan
Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, and
Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region.
Problems in Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia
related to ethnic tensions and suppression. For Hong Kong, which
reverted to Chinese rule from Britain in 1997, Human Rights
Watch criticized the PRC for interference in the development of
universal suffrage promised in its Basic Law.
The societal section included a list of horrors impacting
Chinese people in groups ranging in size from tens of millions
to the small brave few. Human Rights Watch cited ongoing
problems with forced evictions from land, non-existent
independent labor rights, plus lawyers, reporters and human
rights defenders punished for rising against injustice in China.
In the last category the rights watchdog group reported on
mistreatment of the individual. Freedoms of expression and
religious belief were trampled in 2005, as were the efforts of
non-governmental groups and activists focused on HIV/AIDS.
China's foreign ministry spokesman offered the Communist
regime's big picture position on the sensitive issue of human
rights. He said: "In the Eleventh Five Year Plan the Chinese
government will make efforts to consolidate democracy and
political construction and press ahead with the reform of
Kong then addressed the point of making things better for the
country's 1.3 billion citizens.
"Of course as a populous country and a developing nation as
constrained by factors of nature, history, and development
levels we have much room for improvement in human rights. We are
quite clear about that," he said.
The spokesman continued by saying China had taken "unprecedented
strong efforts to strengthen democracy and human rights
protection" including 85 new laws (50 national, 35 local) which
became effective Jan. 1.
Kong finished his response, stating "the efforts of the Chinese
government in improving the situation have been sincere and
unprecedented. We are going to continue to make efforts to
improve and safeguard human rights."