The New York Times of Monday 20 October carries a post by Chris Buckley which looks at the documentation submitted for today’s UPR session on China and concludes that it seems as if there are two different countries facing scrutiny in Geneva. The reports from the Chinese government and its proxy groups to the United Nations Human Rights Council depict a country making constant advances in the welfare and rights of its citizens, although there are some development and legal problems that should be fixed. China is “establishing a robust system of human rights safeguards,” says the government’s report. By contrast, the submissions from international human rights groups depict a country in which violations of rights remain rife, prison sentences for political charges have worsened and the government’s promised efforts to bring legal protections into line with international rules have been tardy, cosmetic or stalled. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other international and independent Chinese advocacy groups exude disappointment and frustration in their submissions (“Failed to make progress,” “regressive steps,” “little improvement,” “severe suppression,” “steps backward” ).
The government maintains that it is a faithful adherent of international norms and rules on rights, although it takes a different view from Western countries as to what those norms and rules entail. “China respects the principle of universality of human rights,” says the government’s report, but the Chinese Communist Party regularly depicts “human rights” as a vehicle used by Western forces and their Chinese followers to undermine and eventually topple one-party rule. Throughout this year, party-run journals have railed against “universal values,” described as an ideological Trojan horse riddled with subversive credos. An internal party directive issued in April spelled out these accusations.“The intent behind promoting ‘universal values’ is to shake the ideological and theoretical foundations of party rule,” said the directive, widely known as Document No. 9.
As reported earlier in this blog, the Chinese government has detained or intimidated Chinese citizens who have sought a say in their government’s submission or tried to travel to Geneva for the meeting.
- UN alarmed by reprisals against Chinese activists (thoolen.wordpress.com)
- China Detains Activists trying to reach UN (thoolen.wordpress.com)
- China: Make Concrete Progress at UN Rights Review (hrw.org)