China Again Categorized As A “NOT FREE” Country
Recently, the U.S.-based human rights organization “Free House” published its report “2013 Freedom in the World”. The investigation results show that along with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and North Korea, China has been categorized as a “Not Free” country. The report stated that China became increasingly intolerant of dissent in 2013. The status of freedom in China is not improving but worsening. China is one of the countries in Asia that has least freedom.
“Freedom House” is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. It conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. As reported by the BBC, “Free House” published its annual investigation report about the global condition of “political rights” and “civil liberties”. The report shows that Central Asia and Middle East countries continue to suppress democracy, which has caused the status of global freedom to decline for the eighth consecutive year in 2013.
Here are the findings of the 41st edition of Freedom in the World: Each country and territory is assigned two numerical ratings —from 1 to 7—for political rights and civil liberties. 1 represents the most free and 7 the least free. China received 7 for “political rights” and 6 for “civil liberties”, and its overall freedom status is 6.5. Along with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and North Korea, China has been categorized as a “Not Free” country. Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia have been categorized as “Partly Free” countries. While Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia have been categorized as “Free” countries.
Gu Chuan, former visiting Scholar of the University of Columbia, “‘political rights’ in China must rank the lowest. At least in Cambodia, people can vote for the Congress. However, in China, the national Congress representatives are not voted but nominated. As for ‘civil liberties’, ‘freedom of assembly’ and ‘freedom of speech’ that are listed in the Constitution: they still aren’t implemented. Both political rights and civil liberties keep retreating in China. ”
As reported by the BBC, the “Freedom House” report particularly pointed out that “China became increasingly intolerant of dissent in 2013.” “Despite official rhetoric about ‘fighting corruption’ and ‘improving the rule of law’, the authorities responded with campaigns to intensify ideological controls. New judicial guidelines expanded the criminalization of online speech, confessions and ‘self-criticisms’”
Hu Jia, social activist in Beijing, “I think the “’New Citizen Movement’ is just about a citizen walking the street and expressing his aims like “anti-corruption”. It’s a movement both reasonable and legal. Now the party has cracked down on them, which is an abuse of law. To a certain extent, the party is ‘raping’ the law and it cannot be justified at all. The first step to anti-corruption is to publicize officials’ properties. It’s such a simple thing but the party is just not able to do it. ”
The “Freedom House” report also says that “even potentially positive changes fell short” in China. “Although authorities began to close the country’s infamous ‘reeducation through labor’ camps, they increasingly turned to criminal charges with potentially longer sentences and various alternative forms of administrative or extralegal detention to punish human rights defenders, anti-corruption activists, petitioners, and religious believers. And despite announced reforms that will increase the number of two children families, the intrusive regulations and harsh practices used to enforce the country’s long-standing birth quotas remain in place.”
Gu Chuan: “Strictly speaking, there is no hope that the party would reform in any way. If it ever reforms, it would have to hand over its power. The party is absolutely not willing to do it. The party wishes to maintain its power forever. The so-called reform is nothing but some minor changes the party has made under pressure.”
Now the party allows parents who are both single children of their families to have a second kid. Gu Chuan pointed out that the party loosens the birth policy only to relieve the crisis of population aging in China caused by its “one-child policy”. The group interest in China is to maintain economic growth by exploiting the cheap labor force. If the population in China keeps aging, it’ll be hard for them to continue exploiting cheap labor.
In addition, the Freedom House report also stated that “a bright spot was the determination of high-profile dissidents as well as large numbers of ordinary citizens to assert their rights and challenge injustice in the face of heavy obstacles.” “Public protests, online campaigns, journalistic exposés, and activist networks scored several victories during the year, including the release of individuals from wrongful detention. ”However, human rights activists pointed out it only means that the party’s escalating crackdown has forced more people to stand up and fight.
Interview & Edit/Zhang Tianyu Post-Production/Wang Mingyu