In a new report entitled Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2002-2003, the United States has charged China with suppressing political, religious, and social groups. A Chinese spokesman responded saying the report was unfounded.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said the report, released on June 24, 2003, captures the work of the U.S. Government to promote democratic structures and respect for human rights. Powell said it complements the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by “applying the high standards of the Country Reports to the actions we are taking to decrease the number and severity of human rights abuses worldwide.”
In the section on China, the report says, “China’s authoritarian Government continues to suppress political, religious, and social groups, as well as individuals, that are perceived to be a threat to regime power or national stability.”
The report refers to the visit to China by envoys of the Dalai Lama and said the United States continue to call on China to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama. It also highlights the release of Tibetan political prisoners, Ngawang Choephel and Takna Jigme Sangpo, whose cases were raised by the US Embassy in China.
It also said the State Department’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) is funding a “substantial number of programs that seek to address the systemic challenges to democracy and rule of law in China and Tibet.”
Explaining the special feature of the report, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Lorne Craner, said, “We describe solutions, implemented by individuals and organizations whose vision looks toward a better world and whose courage inspires groundswells for change. The U.S. Government is proud to support their efforts.”
This report is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with Section 665 of P.L. 107-228, the Fiscal Year 2003 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which was signed into law on September 30, 2002. The Act requires the Department to report on actions taken by the U.S. Government to encourage respect for human rights.Responding to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan said on June 27, 2003 that the “document unfoundedly and unfairly slates/reproves the Chinese Government and negatively portrays human rights in the country. ”
“The Chinese Government upholds the promotion and protection of human rights, basic freedoms and the democratic political construction of socialism, and has been consistent in so doing, and has won recognition in this regard, ” Kong said.
Given below is the full text of the China section of the report.
Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2002 -2003. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
China’s authoritarian Government continues to suppress political, religious, and social groups, as well as individuals, that are perceived to be a threat to regime power or national stability. The U.S. Government employs multiple strategies to promote human rights and strengthen the rule of law in China. U.S. officials routinely highlight publicly the need for improvements in human rights conditions and call for the release of prisoners of conscience. The Ambassador and other officers of the U.S. Mission in China also work privately with Chinese officials, NGOs, and other organizations to identify areas of particular concern and encourage systemic reforms. Finally, the U.S. supports a wide range of programs designed to improve human rights conditions in China by strengthening the judicial system and furthering the rule of law, encouraging democratic political reform, promoting respect for freedom of religion, protecting human rights, including worker rights and women’s rights, improving transparency in governance, and strengthening civil society.
The U.S. Government works continually to secure the release of Chinese prisoners of conscience. The Ambassador and other officials regularly raise specific cases in meetings with Chinese officials. In 2002 and early 2003, the Government of China released a number of high-profile prisoners of conscience who were the subjects of such lobbying. For instance, Tibetan ethnomusicologist Ngawang Choephel; Tibetan Jigme Sangpo, China’s longest serving prisoner of conscience; China Democracy Party co-founder Xu Wenli; and political activist Fang Jue were released to the United States. Other prisoners of conscience, including four Tibetan nuns, also gained early release from prison after being highlighted in U.S. appeals.
The United States funds a multi-million dollar program to promote legal reform and encourage judicial independence; to increase popular participation in government; and to foster the development of civil society in China. Under this program, more than a dozen projects are currently under implementation. Some of these projects, for example, focus on strengthening the provision of legal services and enabling average citizens to seek protection under the law. Others promote democratic political reform by encouraging the holding of direct elections at the local level and increasing ways in which citizens can participate in government decision-making. In addition, the Embassy awards small grants to members of China’s NGO movement, in support of democratic values.
During the year, U.S. lobbying helped facilitate visits to China by the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Senior officials continue to call upon the Government of China to enter into dialogues with the Vatican and the Dalai Lama; emissaries of the Dalai Lama visited Tibetan areas of China twice in 2002, the first such visits in decades.
The U.S. called for reform of those elements of the Chinese labor code that do not meet international standards. Officials are working to establish programs of technical assistance that could advance worker rights in the areas of labor law and mine safety. Officers of the U.S. Mission in China also work to monitor compliance with the U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding and Statement of Cooperation on Prison Labor and to investigate allegations of forced child labor.
The U.S. Government engages in an ongoing Human Rights Dialogue with the Government of China. During the December 2002 session, the Government of China agreed to invite, without conditions, the U.N. Special Rapporteurs for Religious Intolerance, Torture, and Education, as well as the Chairman of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to visit China.
During 2002, the Ambassador and senior officials worked to strengthen the flow of information concerning human rights within the U.S. Government, with the Chinese and with like-minded governments. The U.S. attended the third Bern Process meeting of China’s dialogue partners to share information about human rights strategies and human rights, rule of law, and democracy programming. The U.S. Mission in China also brought internationally recognized speakers to address Chinese audiences on topics including democracy, human rights, religious freedom, and rule of law.