The recurring issue of China’s Human Rights record

19 Apr

Despite the major period of modernization and economic growth that has characterised the past thirty years, China still remains an authoritarian one party state. Whilst this remains the case, the West will remain sceptical when it comes to China’s adherence to human rights. In 2011, the government themselves insisted that China had fulfilled ‘all tasks and targets’ on its Human Rights Action Plan, yet many remain unconvinced. Interestingly the government rejects international scrutiny of its human rights record, dismissing such actions as attempts to impose ‘Western values’ on the country.

The spotlight has once again fallen back onto China’s patchy record in recent weeks, following a report in a Chinese magazine of abuses occurring at a notorious labour camp. It is alleged that female inmates are forced to work long hours and face punishments should they fail to meet production quotas. These can range from being locked in tiny ‘punishment’ cells to being shocked with electric batons. This will undoubtedly add weight to an ever growing campaign calling for the abolishment of these camps, where inmates are officially said to be undergoing re-education through labour.

Speaking out against state policy still also carries a great risk. Recent cases have shown how the government are not merely content with persecuting its critics, but also see it necessary to administer punishments to their families. For example, Liu Xiaba, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner is currently serving time in jail, whilst his wife remains under house arrest in Beijing.

However, a growing number of people inside China itself are beginning to take issue with these numerous instances of gross injustices. Indeed, official statistics estimate that across the country there are 250-500 protests each day, with anywhere from 10 to tens of thousands of participants. Furthermore, recent years have seen the emergence of the ‘Weiquan’ (rights defense) movement whom, despite the obvious risk of harsh appraisals, attempt to expose abuse.



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