China's abuses take spotlight on Human Rights Day

China's abuses take spotlight on Human Rights Day

Flag of China. Credit: Tomas Roggero via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Flag of China. Credit: Tomas Roggero via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

.- As the world observes Human Rights Day, advocates have turned their focus to China for its egregious abuses, particularly the detainment of activists and forced family planning policies.

“China is in a race to the bottom with North Korea for the title of world’s worst violators of human rights,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chair of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, at a Dec. 9 press conference.

Rep. Smith and others at the event called for the release of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights advocate who has been imprisoned since 2008.

“Every day Liu Xiaobo remains incarcerated; every day his wife Liu Xia remains arbitrarily detained; every time China denigrates another Nobel Laureate, the Dalai Lama; and every time another rights advocate or religious leader is jailed or disappeared is another blow to China’s international prestige and another obstacle to better U.S.-China relations,” Smith continued. 

The U.S. must be a leader on human rights to enable progress in China, he added. “We must show leadership and resolve because only the U.S. has the power and prestige to stand up to China’s intransigence.” 

Liu Xiaobo is a Chinese professor, writer, and human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his efforts to promote human rights in China. He was awarded the prize while serving an 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion.”

Several members of Congress calling for his release were joined by Chinese human rights advocates Chen Guangcheng, Fang Zheng, and Dr. Yang Jianli. 

“The U.S. must not shy away from meeting with the Dalai Lama or other dissidents,” Smith said.  “We must use visa bans on Chinese officials who violate human rights.  We need to connect Internet and press freedoms as both economic and human rights priorities. And we must demand, repeatedly and clearly, that the unconditional release of political prisoners is in the interest of better U.S.-China relations.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), co-chair of the CECC, noted the irony that China was an original drafter of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

“Enshrined in the document are a variety of rights and protections to include freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and conscience and freedom of movement,” he said. “Sadly these God-given rights remain elusive for millions of Chinese citizens including Liu.”

Speakers at the press conference noted the Chinese government’s recent reported abuses like the 2015 crackdown on hundreds of human rights lawyers and their staff and families. 

Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, commemorates the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. It was a milestone document and the first global human rights charter. 

Rights listed include a right to “life, liberty, and security of person,” protection against all torture and “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,” and a right to asylum from persecution in another country.

Last week, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a hearing on the country’s proposed two-child policy, which would simply be an extension of the decades-old one-child policy that human rights advocates say is genocide and results in widespread human rights abuses. 

And the new two-child policy may not be certain. Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer, testified before the CECC on Dec. 3 that just days after the policy announcement, the Chinese family planning bureau called the policy only a “proposal.”

One of the witnesses, Chinese mother Sarah Huang, became pregnant with her second child before the new policy announcement and explained how she traveled to the U.S. to have her child because of her fear of a forced abortion. The Chinese authorities, along with paid informants, brutally enforce the law by forcing mothers who do not obtain permission to become pregnant to abort their children and be sterilized. 

“My husband and I wanted a second child for many years,” Huang stated in her written testimony to the CECC, and they were “very happy” when she was pregnant with their second child and when the two-child policy was announced. 

However, her husband’s employer, the Chinese government, informed him that they would have to abort the child because the couple did not meet the requirements of the new policy. They threatened him with a deadline. 

The couple flew to the U.S. to have the child, and Huang said they could face a fine back in China equaling $36,000.

Human rights abuses will still be rampant under the two-child policy, she insisted. Women will be subject to forced contraception and sterilization, the notorious family planning bureau will still exist under another name, families will still abort unborn girls in order to have a son to carry on the family name, and “black clinics” will enable gendercide by carrying illegal ultrasound machines so parents can discover the sex of the child, she said. 

“I believe this is one of the most tragic events of modern world history,” she said in her testimony. “As we are the ones who are aware of what is happening in China, we have an inherent responsibility to act.”

The new policy is “not going to resolve the problems in the countryside of China,” testified Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. The sterilizations that are forced upon Chinese women will continue, and they “ruin a women’s health,” she said in her testimony before the CECC. Women are permanently disabled after sterilizations so that they can’t even perform hard tasks on the family farms.

China’s record on religious freedom is also among the worst in the world. The U.S. State Department has designated it as a “Country of Particular Concern” each year since 1999 for its severe and ongoing abuses of religious freedom. The government has detained and fined members of different faiths and has even destroyed churches and houses of worship. 

Over 400 Christian churches were torn down, desecrated, or destroyed in 2014, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. There are five state-sanctioned religions, “patriotic religious associations,” but faith leaders of both registered and non-registered churches have been met with harassment and arrest by the government. 

Members of Falun Gong, a religious practice, are seen by the government as part of an “evil cult” and have been subject to torture, organ-harvesting, psychiatric experimentation by the government. 

Tags: Human rights, China