U.S. Human Rights Report: China's Record Remains Poor

The Chinese government’s human rights record remains poor with ‘‘numerous and serious abuses’’ according to the 2005 Human Rights Report released by the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday.

The annual state report noted that there was a trend towards increased harassment, detention, and imprisonment by government and security authorities of those perceived to be a threat to the government’s authority. Protests were often suppressed, sometimes violently, by security forces.

Furthermore, Chinese authorities tightened control over print, broadcast and electronic media and censored online content according to the State Department.

Other human rights problems reported include: physical abuse resulting in deaths of those in custody; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; arbitrary arrest and detention; a politically controlled judiciary and a lack of due process in certain cases; and restrictions on religious freedom, control of religious groups, and harassment and detention of unregistered religious groups.

The report did, however, acknowledge that several positive human rights developments occurred last year including the government’s return of authority to approve death sentences to the Supreme People’s Court; limited the administrative detention of minors, the elderly, pregnant women, and nursing mothers; and government officials stated that family Bible studies in private homes need not be registered with the government in March and said that the law permitted religious education of minors (although problems continued in both areas).

The case of Christian Pastor Cai Zhuohua was mentioned in the report under the Section Respect for Civil Liberties. Zhuohua, a prominent Chinese house church leader, was sentenced to three years in prison in November along with his wife and brother-in-law for printing Bibles and other Christian writings without government authorization.

China was recently ranked by Open Doors as number ten in the Christian persecution watchdog group’s 2006 Watch List with North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Iran ranked as the top three countries for Christian persecution.