Human Rights in China Deteriorating, Says U.S.

U.S. officials gave a gloomy assessment following annual bilateral meetings on human rights in Kunming this week. From Tania Branigan at The Guardian:

“I think we have continued to see a deterioration in the overall situation in China,” said Zeva, the acting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour.

“The specific issue of the targeting of family members is one reason for that assessment: the case of the family of Liu Xiaobo, of Chen Guangcheng and other instances. This is a worrisome trend and one we have raised at senior levels.”

[…] The first round of the dialogue since China’s power transition came amid growing concern about recent detentions. Human Rights Watch says that at least 16 activists from Beijing and Jiangxi province have been put under criminal detention for publicly calling on the government to require officials to disclose their assets, despite the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, announcing a crackdown on corruption. [Source]

See more on the twin crackdowns on corruption and anti-corruption activists via CDT.

Zeya also highlighted China’s policies in Tibet and Xinjiang, and said of recent reports of experimental relaxations in Tibet that “we did not come away with an impression of a shift in policy.”

China also raised concerns about abuses in and by the U.S., and urged the Americans to focus on the big picture. From Xinhua:

The Chinese side introduced the country’s achievements in democracy and the rule of law, improvement of people’s livelihood, protection of minority rights, promotion of the coordinated development of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, it said.

[…] China’s human rights situation is in the best period in history and China is a country ruled by law, the Chinese side stressed, urging the U.S. side to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and stop bothering China on some isolated cases.

The Chinese side raised the issues of racial discrimination, lack of protection of indigenous rights, the use of torture against terrorism, poor prison conditions and other issues within the United States, according to the [Foreign Ministry] press release. [Source]

U.S. officials say they raised the “isolated cases” of Xu Zhiyong, Gao Zhisheng, Ni Yulan, Liu Xiaobo, Dhondup Wangchen, Gheyret Niyaz and Hada during the talks. The Washington Post’s William Wan provided short profiles of these seven, and discussed the selection and significance of the list.

The practice of raising specific cases of imprisoned political prisoners and human-rights activists has a long history in U.S.-China diplomatic exchanges. During the months leading up to such summits, human-rights activists, religious organizations and ethnic rights groups lobby the United States to have certain cases added to the list of names that will be brought up at the meeting.

In the past, such entreaties occasionally led to China releasing some individuals ahead of meetings such as presidential summits. Such results have waned in recent years, perhaps in part due to China’s growing global power. But with many of China’s leading human-rights activists still in prison and a recent spate of cases in which their families have been imprisoned as well, many rights groups here believe getting your name on that list is still an important step. [Source]