Human Rights Watch’s China Director Sophie Richardson writes at The Globe and Mail that with harsh tactics reported in a string of recent antitrust probes, “in effect, the government’s tactics against human rights activists have now migrated to the private sector”:
In recent weeks, the American Chamber of Commerce, the European Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S.-China Business Council have publicly expressed frustrations over the Chinese government’s targeting of particular firms, denying access to legal counsel, a lack of due process and transparency, and the seemingly arbitrary imposition of fines and other punishments. The companies suggest that laws in China are being misused or distorted in ways that burden them more than domestic firms, and that they have been subject to “intimidation tactics” and denied “full hearings.”
[…] It’s hard to deny the common interests of both [the foreign business and domestic activist] communities. An independent, professional legal system in China should be able to both enforce contracts and protect peaceful speech; a truly free press can report accurate, timely information to hold diverse interests accountable. The ability of people to share their ideas freely is essential for a competitive business environment and a less abusive, opaque political system.
As some of the world’s biggest, best-known firms – with far greater leverage against the government than individual activists – begin to voice their concerns, there are opportunities for change. […] [Source]