Congressional-Executive Commission on China Finds Increased Citizen Repression, Stalled Development of Rule of Law, and Troubling Suppression of Information in 2007 Annual Report

Congressional-Executive Commission on China |

Congressional-Executive Commission on China Finds Increased Citizen Repression, Stalled Development of Rule of Law, and Troubling Suppression of Information in 2007 Annual Report
Special Focus of Report is on Tibet as Congress Prepares to Award the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal Next Week

October 11, 2007

(Washington, DC)—Rep. Sander Levin, Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the following statement on the CECC’s 2007 Annual Report.

“The next year will be an important one for China, as the 2008 Summer Olympic Games place Beijing front and center on the world stage.

“Against this backdrop the CECC Report details ongoing human rights abuses as well as increased repression and tightened restrictions in some areas, and the stalled development of the rule of law in China during 2006-2007. Across the board, China’s human rights practices in the last year reflected Chinese leaders’ increasing intolerance of citizen activism; greater suppression of information on urgent matters of public concern (including food safety, public health, and environmental emergencies); the manipulation of law for political purposes; and the localization of dispute resolution as a method of insulating the central government and Chinese Communist Party from the backlash of national policy failures.

“Central and local officials not only tightened existing controls over many citizen organizations, but also engaged in selective use of rarely enforced laws to provide a legal justification for shutting some organizations down. Official harassment of the family members of human rights activists, including advocates for worker rights, ethnic minority rights and environmental health, continued or intensified during 2007. The Commission also observed stepped-up harassment of legal advocates, and increased restrictions on Chinese reporters. Persons who engaged in political or religious activity outside of Party approved parameters risked harsh repercussions—harrassment, detention, and other forms of punishment and abuse, including beating and torture—as documented in the Report.

“China’s leaders rely on disunity among workers in order to drive the economic growth on which the Party has staked its claim to supremacy. Notwithstanding the new Labor Contract Law’s collective contracting provisions (which still fail to provide for true collective bargaining or to grant workers the right to organize or to select their own representatives), the Party views organized labor as it does citizen activism on most matters of public concern: as a threat to the Party’s hold on power. Chinese citizens who have attempted to organize workers outside of the Party-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions risk imprisonment, and several high-profile labor activists remain in prison, some serving out long sentences.“

The release of the Commission’s Annual Report will be followed next Wednesday by the award of the Congressional Gold Medal—this nation’s highest civilian honor—to the Dalai Lama, the unrivaled spiritual and cultural leader of the Tibetan people, who is recognized worldwide as a leading figure of moral and religious authority. In a Special Focus section on Tibet, the Commission’s Annual Report calls on Chinese leaders to cease their campaign of vilification against the Dalai Lama, and instead to meet with him face-to-face, and to seek a way to protect and preserve the Tibetan culture and heritage as a means to improve China’s stability, prosperity, and harmony.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s 17th Party Congress convenes next Monday. Whether or not the Party Congress ultimately will be associated with change instead of continuity on these issues remains to be seen. The Commission will monitor developments in China closely both before and after the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, and will continue regularly to report its findings to the general public and to policy-makers throughout the coming year.“

Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to the talented staff of the CECC who worked tirelessly on the comprehensive Report and all of the Commissioners and their staff for their support of the Commission’s work, and especially to Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, my esteemed colleague and Co-Chairman of the Commission, for his commitment to excellence in the Report and ongoing activity of the CECC throughout the next year.”