Editor’s note. The following are excerpts of testimony delivered today by Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman, Congressional Executive Commission on China, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee
This year’s tenth annual human rights report by the Congressional-Executive Commission continues to be the most comprehensive, heavily documented review and analysis of China’s worsening human rights record.
The Report’s 225 pages of analysis and recommendations followed by another 119 pages of meticulously researched endnotes paints an extremely dire, frightening picture of escalating—human rights crimes, including torture, forced abortion, religious persecution, and ethnic discrimination—committed with impunity by government personnel at all levels and an ubiquitous secret police.
The Report declares that “in areas of human rights and rule of law this year, China’s leaders have grown more assertive in their violations of rights, disregarding the very laws and international standards that they claim to uphold [thereby] tightening their grip on Chinese society.”
In a shift, the Report notes that “China’s leaders no longer respond to criticism by simply denying that rights have been abused. Rather, they increasingly use the language of international laws to defend their actions.”
Even in the highly visible, patently unjust incarceration of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo, the report notes, “Chinese authorities sought to defend their handling of his case as consistent with international law.”
The government trotted out Chinese criminal law scholar Gao Mingxuan, who said that “international treaties and nearly every country’s law, criminalize one’s speech and that Liu’s speech had sought the overthrow of the Chinese government.”
The big lie by Beijing completely collapsed under scrutiny.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in May of this year that it was the government that had violated international law in denying Liu’s right to free speech and right to a fair trial.
“Official rhetoric notwithstanding,” the report notes, “China’s human rights and rule of law have not improved…and appears to be worsening in some areas.”
Some of the profoundly troubling conclusions in the Report include:
- “Beginning in February 2011, the Chinese police took the unusual step of ‘disappearing’ numerous lawyers in one of the harshest crackdowns in recent memory.”
- On coercive population control, the Report found that “this year in official speeches and government reports…authorities used the phrase ‘spare no efforts’ to signify intensified enforcement methods and less restraint on officials who oversee coercive population planning implementation methods…”
- Government officials continue to levy massive fines, euphemistically called “social compensation fees,” on couples who gave birth to an unauthorized child.
- “Local officials continue to monitor the reproductive cycle of Chinese women in order to prevent unauthorized births…The Chinese government requires married couples to (all unwed mothers are forced to abort their babies) obtain a birth permit before they can legally bear a child and forces them to employ contraceptive methods at other times.
One huge consequence of the draconian one-child per couple policy is the skewed sex ratio—according to the Commission the highest in the world—resulting in the missing girls of China.
The Report notes that massive mobilizations dubbed “enforcement campaigns” continued and that in Yangchun province, family planning officials were exhorted to adopt “man-on-man military tactics.”
In my personal view—having combated this abuse since the early 1980s—the Chinese one-child per couple population control program was and remains a weapon of mass destruction deployed by the government against its own women and children, that is without precedent or parallel in history.
This week, I chaired a hearing on the plight of Chinese activist lawyer Chen Guancheng and his wife Yuan Weijing, who since 2005 have been subjected to beatings, extralegal detention, numerous violations of their rights under criminal procedure law, confiscation of their personal belongings, 24-hour surveillance and invasion of their privacy, disconnection from all forms of communication, and even denial of education for their six-year old daughter.
Blinded by a childhood disease, Chen Guangcheng began his legal advocacy career in 1996 educating disabled citizens and farmers about their rights. Decades later, when local villagers started coming to him with their stories of forced abortions and forced sterilizations, Chen and his wife Yuan Weijing documented these stories, later building briefs and lawsuits against the officials involved. When Chen investigated and intervened with a class action suit on behalf of women in Linyi City who suffered horrific abuse under China’s one child per couple policy, he was arrested, detained and tortured. He and his wife and child remain under house arrest—and at grave risk of additional harm.
The Report notes that the “Chinese government continues to carry out a campaign—lasting more than a decade—of extensive, systematic and sometimes violent efforts to pressure Falun Gong to renounce their beliefs in and practices of Falun Gong.
Christians of every stripe—Protestant, Catholic and Evangelical—who practiced outside government control continued to be severely harassed and jailed.
House church pastors and Catholic priests and “at least 40 unregistered Chinese Catholic bishops are in detention, home punishment, or surveillance; are in hiding; or have been missing for years, such as Bishops Su Zhimin and Shi Enxian…”
After many years in the Chinese gulag, Bishop Su was released and I met with him in 1994. He is an extraordinarily kind, peaceful, and holy man who harbors no ill-will or animosity towards his captors. In 1996 he was rearrested—his whereabouts unknown.
The Report goes into great detail on worker’s rights—which are non-existent—but notes that young people are increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo. Labor organizers are arrested, detained, and abused.
Internet repression and censorship have actually gotten worse. The Internet Information Office was established in May 2011. The Report concludes, “the total number of websites in China decreased dramatically as a result of greater state intervention.”
- “Authorities continued to have no tolerance for democracy advocates.”
- “Public security officers continued to use the reeducation through labor to silence critics and to circumvent the criminal procedure process.”
In the early 1990s, Congressman Frank Wolf and I visited a reeducation camp filled with Tiananmen Square democracy advocates. It was a concentration camp.
The Commission maintains the most extensive, reliable, up-to-date database on religious and political prisoners. It contains information on 6,623 prisoners of conscience.