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Backgrounder #2455 on China and Democracy and Human Rights

August 23, 2010

Make China Account for Its Dismal Human Rights Record

By and

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[1]U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, preface to 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/index.htm (July 26, 2010).

[2]U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Overview and Acknowledgements,” in 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

[3]China ranks 150th out of 179 countries examined in Terry Miller and Kim R. Holmes, 2010 Index of Economic Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation and Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 2010).

[4]For the 1989–1995 reports, see U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vols. 14–20, 1989–1995. For the 1996–2009 reports, see U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “China Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996,” January 30, 1997, at http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1996_hrp_report/china.html(March 25, 2010); “China Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997,” January 30, 1998, at http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1997_hrp_report/china.html(March 23, 2010); “China Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998,” February 26, 1999, at http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1998_hrp_report/china.html(February 12, 2010); “China,” in 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, February 23, 2000, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/284.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Hong Kong and Macau),” in 2000 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, February 23, 2001, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/eap/ 684.htm (February 12, 2010; “China (Includes Hong Kong and Macau),” in 2001 County Reports on Human Rights Practices,March 4, 2002, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/eap/8289.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2002 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,March 31, 2003, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18239.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,February 25, 2004, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27768.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2004 County Reports on Human Rights Practices, February 28, 2005, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41640.htm (February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2005 County Reports on Human Rights Practices,March 8, 2006, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61605.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 6, 2007, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78771.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2008, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100518.htm(February 12, 2010); “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,February 25, 2009, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/eap/119037.htm(February 12, 2010); and “China (Includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau),” in 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,March 11, 2010, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135989.htm(April 6, 2010). Subsequent references to specific State Department human rights reports are not footnoted unless a page number is available.

[5]The 2001 and 2002 reports add “throughout the year” to the statement: “The Government’s human rights record throughout the year remained poor.” The 2005–2009 reports do not capitalize “government.”

[6]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 14, 1989, p. 803.

[7]The 2000 report removes the phrase “of instances”: “The official press reported a number of extrajudicial killings, but no nationwide statistics are available.” The 2001 and 2002 reports remove the phrase “of instances” and change “are” to “were”: “The official press reported a number of extrajudicial killings, but no nationwide statistics were available.”

[8]Lynn Sweet, “Valerie Jarrett Quietly Jets to India to Meet with the Dalai Lama on Tibet,” Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2009, at http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2009/09/valerie_jarrett_quietly_jets_t.html (July 15, 2010), and Alex Spillius, “Barack Obama Cancels Meeting with Dalai Lama ‘to Keep China Happy,’” Daily Telegraph (London), October 5, 2009, at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/6262938/Barack-Obama-cancles-meeting-with-Dalai-Lama-to-keep-China-happy.html (July 15, 2010).

[9]The 2000 report’s Tibet summary sentence reads: “Chinese government authorities continued to commit numerous serious human rights abuses in Tibet.”

[10]The Uighur-language broadcasts were added in the 2003 report.

[11]See also U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 19, 1994, p. 573.

[12]This exact phrase appears in the 2004–2007 reports.

[13]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 17, 1992, p. 542.

[14]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 20, 1995, p. 578.

[15]The 2003 report replaces “often” with “sometimes.”

[16]The 2006 and 2007 reports say that “Some executions took place on the day of conviction.”

[17]The 2002–2009 reports use the past tense of the verb: “Arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems.”

[18]The 1993 report adds the phrase “for political reasons”: “A well-documented estimate of the total number of those subjected to new or continued arbitrary arrest or detention for political reasons is not possible due to the Government’s tight control of information.”

[19]The 1998–2001 reports change the sentence slightly: “Because the Government tightly controls information, it is impossible accurately to determine the total number of people subjected to new or continued arbitrary arrest or detention.”

[20]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 15, 1990, p. 847.

[21]The 2005 report reverses the order of two words to “credibly reported.”

[22]The 2006 report states “credibly reported.”

[23]The 2004 report’s sentence is: “The Government continued to threaten, arrest, and imprison many individuals for exercising free speech.”

[24]The 2007 report uses “disseminated such views to an overseas audience” in its sentence.

[25]The 2002–2004 reports use the past tense: “restricted” and “led.” The 1997 report uses “leads” instead of “lead” and “laws” instead of “statutes” in its sentence.

[26]The 2002–2004 reports say “exercised self-censorship.”

[27]The 1995 and 1996 reports use the phrase “expression of dissident political views.” The 1997 and 1998 reports use the phrase “expression of dissenting political views.”

[28]The 2008 report includes “during the year” so that the sentence reads, “Despite restrictions, during the year there were many demonstrations.…”

[29]The 2002–2006 reports use the past tense “sought.”

[30]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 15, 1990, p. 860, and Vol. 16, 1991, p. 826.

[31]The 2006 report uses a slightly different wording in the first sentence: “what they have called the ‘westernization’ of China.”

[32]The 2009 report’s exact wording for the last part of the sentence is “in addition, domestic NGOs were harassed.”

[33]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 18, 1993, p. 615.

[34]The 1994 report’s wording for the last part of the sentence is “to identify and abort female fetuses.”

[35]The 2000 report’s second sentence says, “The underreporting of female births.…”

[36]The 1994–2002 reports spell the word “kidnaping.” The 2003–2009 reports spell the word “kidnapping.”

[37]U.S. Department of State, Annual Human Rights Report, Vol. 19, 1994, p. 567.

[38]The 1999 report reads, “Despite government efforts to prevent kidnapping and the buying and selling of children, these problems persist in rural areas.” (Emphasis added to show differences in wording.)

[39]The 2009 report says, “Kidnapping and buying and selling children for adoption increased over the past several years, particularly in poor rural areas.”

[40]Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Working Toward Change in Perceptions of U.S. Engagement Around the World,” U.S. Department of State, February 20, 2009, at http://ww.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/02/119430.htm (July 16, 2010).

[41]Michael H. Posner, “Briefing on the U.S.–China Human Rights Dialogue,” U.S. Department of State, May 14, 2010, at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/05/141899.htm (July 16, 2010).

[42]Brad Adams, “US–China Human Rights Dialogue,” letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, May 7, 2010, at http://www.hrw.org/node/90312 (July 26, 2010).

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