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China's white paper on rights progress a whitewash

September 30, 2010

Tibetan Review
September 28, 2010

China on Sep 26 released what it called a white
paper on its progress in human rights in 2009,
particularly claiming great respect for internet
freedom and focusing much of it on claims about
improvements in the living standards of the
people. The document was the ninth on human
rights issued by the information of the State
Council, or China’s cabinet, since 1991.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), however,
called Beijing’s assessment of the situation
unrealistic and found glaring omissions in it. In
particular it said the document failed to mention
that since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China had
gotten tougher on freedom of speech, stepped up
restrictions on the media and Internet and
cracked down on lawyers and activists, reported AP Sep 26.

The white paper, titled as "Progress in China's
Human Rights in 2009," highlighted China’s four
trillion yuan (US $586 billion) economic stimulus
package that helped the country bounce back from the global financial crisis.

But with the document lacking any truthful
reporting on any real progress in freedom and
human rights, HRW’s Asia advocacy director Sophie
Richardson has said the report "is at best a
missed opportunity and at worst a clumsy
whitewash by failing to render a realistic
assessment of China's human rights problems."

The AP report noted that China, which is ruled by
a one-party authoritarian regime, has long faced
international criticism for falling short on
basic rights like freedom of speech, religion and
the right to a fair trial, even as it has
aggressively promoted economic development.
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