Human Rights

Date: October 5, 2018

A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Cangan Boulevard in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. China faced unprecedented criticism of its brutal repression of unarmed citizens demanding more freedoms. More recently, China has begun promoting its model of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as the preferred path for advancing human rights.
Jeff Widener/AP

When it comes to the contentious arena of international human rights, China has arrived.

For decades, China’s Communist Party largely kept clear of muscling its way onto the global human rights stage, preferring to bide its time while it contended with massive economic and social challenges at home. This began to change in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, when China faced unprecedented criticism of its brutal repression of unarmed citizens demanding more freedoms. Beijing fought hard to defend its one-party system and joined hands with like-minded autocratic states to block external criticism of its hard-line rule.

But it engaged in the international human rights system in other ways, including by ratifying a number of relevant treaties and inviting United Nations experts to visit the country and advise officials on compliance with international norms.    [FULL  STORY]

The new rules — which also sharply limit the participation of Hollywood talent in China’s enormous TV indusry — continue Beijing’s broad crackdown on the content industry.
Escalating an aggressive crackdown on the content sector, China plans to drastically cut back on Hollywood participation in its massive television market.

The Hollywood Reporter
Date:  9/21/2018
By: Patrick Brzeski

Getty Images

According to a new set of draft rules released Thursday, Beijing regulators will outlaw the broadcast of foreign TV shows during primetime and limit the volume of imported content that streams on China’s fast-growing video platforms.

As justification for the rules, regulators cited the “protection of social stability” and the need to guard against content that “deviates from core socialist values.”

China has worked to limit the “corrupting influence” of foreign content on the small screen for years, but the new rules appear to be the most stringent to date by far. Under the new rules, non-Chinese content will be limited to 30 percent of total air time both on streaming platforms and on broadcast TV.

The participation of foreign talent and industry professionals will also be curtailed. Foreign crew — whether writers, directors, DPs, actors or other roles — will be prohibited from comprising more than one-fifth of total staff on a Chinese TV drama. Also, a show’s writer and director will be forbidden from both being non-Chinese, and the leading actor and actress cannot both be foreigners.    [FULL  STORY]

The Globe And Mail 
Date: September 20, 2018
By: Doug Sanders

In this Nov. 4, 2017 photo, residents walk past a statue showing Mao Zedong near a square in Kashgar, in western China’s Xinjiang region.

How, in the most populated country, do you make a million people disappear? At first it sounds old-fashioned: You spend billions building a vast archipelago of high-security indoctrination camps across the mountainous far-western region of Xinjiang, you lock down the entire region, you seize hundreds of thousands of people from their families, for no significant reason other than their ethnicity, and you put them in coveralls, sometimes in chains, and shut them into those institutions, where they are forced to submit to authority.

The next question is more disturbing: How, in an ultraconnected country, do you keep the rest of the world from noticing and raising alarm?

For a surprisingly long time, Beijing succeeded. In May, 2014, Chinese authorities began their “Strike Hard Campaign Against Violent Terrorism,” aimed at pacifying the ethnically Turkic (Uyghur) population of Xinjiang. Initially, this involved arresting thousands on suspicion of Islamic terrorism or separatism.

In late 2016 or early 2017, the region opened a much larger network of “political re-education” camps, which have no basis in Chinese law and do not follow due process, and filled them with hundreds of thousands of people who were not legally accused of anything.

In recent months, the world at last raised alarm. Last month, the United Nations, after confirming the population of these camps, called on China to close them. Earlier this year, diplomats from Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland formally asked China to discuss the camps. Beijing refused.

Yet it was not governments that exposed those camps.    [FULL  STORY]

VOICE FOR THE VICTIMS: The former Chilean president came out swinging in her first speech as UN human rights boss, decrying the abuse of minorities and migrants

Taipei Times
Date: Sep 11, 2018
By: Reuters, GENEVA, Switzerland

New UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet yesterday called on China to

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet addresses the opening of the 39th Council of Human Rights meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday.  Photo: AFP

allow in monitors after “deeply disturbing” allegations of large re-education camps in which Uighurs are detained in Xinjiang Province.

Her appeal for access came as Human Rights Watch reported that the Turkic, mostly Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang face arbitrary detentions, daily restrictions on religious practice and “forced political indoctrination” in a mass security crackdown.

A UN rights panel, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, last month said that it had received credible reports that up to 1 million Uighurs might be being held in extra-legal detention across the province, and called for them to be freed.

China has rejected the allegations of internment camps and accused “external factors” of causing turbulence in the region.    [FULL  STORY]

The Washington Post
Date: August 10. 2018
By: Emily Rauhala

Sayragul Sauytbay, 41, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national and former employee of the Chinese government who is accused of illegally crossing the border between the countries to join her family in Kazakhstan, sits in court during a hearing last month in the city of Zharkent, Kazakhstan. (Ruslan Pryanikov/AFP/Getty Images)

ZHARKENT, Kazakhstan — First-of-its-kind courtroom testimony here has corroborated allegations that the Chinese government has built a network of internment camps in western China where Muslim minorities are held without charge for “reeducation.”

Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national, said she crossed from China’s Xin­jiang region to Kazakhstan without proper papers after being forced to work at a camp where around 2,500 ethnic Kazakhs were being held for indoctrination.

“In China, they call it a political camp, but really it was a prison in the mountains,” she told a court last month packed with Kazakh villagers, reporters and a few tight-lipped Chinese diplomats.

Interviews by The Washington Post with 20 other people in Kazakhstan familiar with the experiences of ethnic Kazakhs in China, including three former detainees and more than a dozen people who say they believe a family member is in detention, provided similar accounts of the camps, with additional details.    [FULL  STORY]

Megha Rajagopalan has joined the list of ousted reporters who fail to ‘reflect the will of the party’

China ‘ejects’ US journalist known for reporting on Xinjiang repression
The Guardian

Date:  28 Aug 2018
By: Maya Wang

Buzzfeed’s China bureau chief, Megha Rajagopalan, who has reported from the country for six

Protesters denounce China’s treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, July 2018. Photograph: Kemal Aslan/Rex/Shutterstock

years, announced on Twitter last week that the Chinese government had refused to renew her journalist visa, effectively expelling her. The authorities did not explain the decision, which came after her recent reports exposing the growing abuses in the Muslim minority region of Xinjiang, which surely drew the authorities’ ire. The Chinese state tabloid Global Times published an op-ed that called her work “delusional western reporting”.

Rajagopalan’s expulsion follows those of French reporter Ursula Gauthier in 2015 and US journalist Melissa Chan in 2012. The US journalists Paul Mooney and Austin Ramzy were denied visas to work in China either because of their reporting on human rights issues or because their news organisations had dug into top leaders’ murky web of wealth.

The retribution against foreign correspondents is the tip of the iceberg as authorities tighten their grip on the media, particularly since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2013. In a tour of state media outlets in 2016, Xi told them they must always “reflect the will of the [Chinese Communist] party”.

The brunt of government press controls is often borne by Chinese journalists, who face intimidation, assault and imprisonment for doing their jobs. In February 2018, the Shandong reporter Qi Chonghuai was released after more than 10 years in prison – during which he was tortured – for reporting on corruption. Freelance journalist Chen Jieren, who ran a blog that routinely criticised party officials, has been detained since August for “fraud” and running an “illegal business”.

The state’s censorship machine does not simply scrub out sensitive information. Instead, it generates a sophisticated mirage – a technique the authorities call “directing public opinion” – that allows some accurate reporting but not a full picture of a particular problem. Before Human Rights Watch published an investigative report on the Chinese police’s use of torture in 2015, I contacted a number of Chinese journalists. They told me that while it was possible to report on isolated cases of torture, portraying torture as “routine” – a central finding of our report – would be completely off-limits.    [FULL  STORY]

BBC News
Date: 10 August 2018

A UN human rights committee has heard there are credible reports that China is holding a million

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage caption Uighur protesters pictured in 2009 wield the ID cards of detained relatives


Uighurs in “counter-extremism centres”.

Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, raised the claims at a two-day UN meeting on China.

She said she was concerned by reports that Beijing had “turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp”.

China did not immediately respond.

Its 50-strong delegation said it would address questions on Monday, when the session in Geneva continues.    [FULL  STORY]

Shenzhen’s tech workers face burnout striving for their entrepreneurial dream, highlighting the need for effective unionization.

The News Lens
Date: 2018/06/25
By: China Labour Bulletin

Photo Credit: CLB

At 10 o’clock in the evening on most weeknights, row upon row of employees can be seen still hard at work, anchored to their desks and clearly illuminated inside the glass-fronted skyscrapers of Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, home to many of China’s major technology companies.

Some staff do leave these buildings around 6.30 p.m. but most do not go home; they simply head to one of the many conveniently located restaurants or cafes for dinner or go to the gym for a quick workout before returning to their work station.

It is the same scene at weekends: Shenzhen’s integrated urban design and efficient transport network makes it very easy for staff to just drop by the office for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Those living further afield can of course work at home if they wish, and many choose to do just that. For the young tech workers of Shenzhen’s Silicon Valley, the boundaries between work and leisure time seem to be permanently blurred.

Java engineer is currently by far the most competitive job in Shenzhen with a staggering 14,409 applicants per day.

Overtime is not compulsory but workers accept that working long hours are the only way to get ahead in the tech industry. If you don’t work as hard as your colleagues you will soon get left behind or replaced by one of the thousands of other people clamoring for your job.

Since 9/11, Beijing has used trumped up threats of terrorism to justify the development of a high-tech security state in Xinjiang

The News Lens
Date: 2018/06/20
By: Michael Clarke, East Asia Forum

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

China’s concerns with terrorism are almost entirely focused on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang’s geopolitical position at the eastern edge of the Islamic and Turkic-speaking world and the ethno-cultural distinctiveness of its largely Turkic-Muslim ethnic groups have constituted a challenge to the centralizing imperatives of successive Chinese governments.

Domestically, this has resulted in the extreme securitization of the Uyghur identity that has culminated over the past two years in the internment of up to 1 million Uyghurs in extra-judicial ‘transformation through re-education’ centers.

Internationally, Beijing has consistently appropriated the lexicon of the post-9/11 “war on terror” to label Uyghur opposition as “religious extremism”, linking it to the influence of regional and transnational jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda in order to generate diplomatic capital for the ongoing repression of Uyghur autonomist aspirations.

Xi Jinping’s track record on human rights is bleak across the board.

The News Lens
Date: 2018/06/08
By: Joseph Y.S. Cheng

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

The mass protests of May-June 1989 – which ended with the killing of unarmed protesters commonly referred to as the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” – were, in all likelihood, the most significant grassroots challenge to Communist Party control in the 69-year history of the People’s Republic of China. Many of the concerned citizens who took the streets during those months hoped for a government that would implement political reforms, combat corruption, and embrace human rights.

Since the suppression of the Tiananmen Incident, despite soaring economic growth, little or no progress has been made on any of the protesters’ aspirations. The Party regime has introduced no serious political reforms, and China’s liberal intelligentsia have obviously given up hope on CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, whose rule has become increasingly authoritarian. The CCP’s attempts to bury any public memory of the Tiananmen Incident are emblematic of this backsliding; many young people in China today have little idea what happened that night in Beijing, while the people of Hong Kong – who are supposed to enjoy freedom of speech and expression – were recently issued a warningagainst any public calls to “end one-party dictatorship” by former top PRC administrator for the territory.

Xi very evidently believes that absolute loyalty to the CCP is closely linked with social and political stability. As a result, he has greatly tightened state control over the Internet and social media, and demanded that official mass media swear political loyalty to the CCP, even going so far as to say that they should be “surnamed Party”. He and the CCP have used their strengthened tools of repression to target groups seeking to assert the individual’s right to justice and autonomy in the face of Party control.

Three groups in particular stand out, both in their willingness to stand against Xi’s emphasis on ideological orthodoxy, and in the consequences they have been made to suffer as a result: human rights lawyers, autonomous labor groups, and underground churches. Under the Hu-Wen administration, all three were subject to regular state harassment, but still enjoyed some space to operate. As part of the Xi administration’s crackdown on organization and expression, they have been viewed as threats to the Party regime, and treated accordingly.    [FULL  STORY]

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