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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

China rejects UN call to improve human rights

February 13, 2009

By Aileen McCabe, Asia Correspondent, Canwest News Service
February 12, 2009

After submitting to a peer review on Monday, China has now turned thumbs
down on most of its specific recommendations, namely that it abolish
capital punishment, adopt international norms against torture, abolish
illegal detention and respect religious and minority rights.

After submitting to a peer review on Monday, China has now turned thumbs
down on most of its specific recommendations, namely that it abolish
capital punishment, adopt international norms against torture, abolish
illegal detention and respect religious and minority rights.
Photograph by: Alfred Cheng Jin, Reuters

SHANGHAI — China has rejected all of the most serious proposals
suggested by the United Nations Human Rights Council to clean up its
human rights record.

After submitting to a peer review on Monday, it has now turned thumbs
down on most of its specific recommendations, namely that it abolish
capital punishment, adopt international norms against torture, abolish
illegal detention and respect religious and minority rights.

This was China's first appearance before a UN Universal Periodic Review
panel and Sharon Hom, executive director of the advocacy group Human
Rights in China, called the 30-month old process "a failure."

She said the review "has given China a 'cover' for impunity."

Although Canada, India and Nigeria presided over the review, all of the
47 states that are members of the Human Rights Council could submit
recommendations for the report. China accepted several that talked
broadly of respecting and promoting human rights and quite happily
agreed to fellow Communist state Cuba's recommendation that it take
action against "people who are qualifying themselves as human rights
defenders with the objective of attacking the interests of state and the
people of China."

China's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Li Baodong, received the report
and told the council that his country "is witnessing the emancipation of
thought, enlightenment in politics, development in economy, harmony of
society, progress in sciences and blossoming in art," according to
Xinhua, China's official news agency.

Xinuha managed to ignore all the criticism levelled at China and said:
"During the review many countries praised China's tremendous
achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights in the past
60 years, and particularly since its launching of reform and opening up
in 1978."

Canadian recommendations on capital punishment, torture, legislative and
judicial reforms, extra-judicial detention, legal rights and freedom of
religion were all rejected by China.

Several states, including New Zealand and the United Kingdom recommended
China respect fundamental rights in Tibet and allow UN observers,
diplomats and the international media to travel freely in the region.

It is a particularly delicate topic in China now and the recommendations
were rejected. The 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's forced exile to
India is on March 10 and last year demonstrations in Lhasa to mark the
day turned violent and police and troops cracked down heavily in the region.

Officials admitted to killing only one Tibetan and blamed the death of
21 more on "rioters."

Tibetan groups say that more than 200 were killed in clashes with the
security forces.

Since that time, and despite new rules adopted for the Beijing Olympics,
journalists have not been allowed to travel freely anywhere on the
Tibetan plateau.
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