Posts Tagged ‘Chinese government’

China’s Charter 08 for human rights and democracy

October 9, 2010

Council on Foreign Relations, December 10, 2008

Over 2000 Chinese citizens, including government officials and prominent intellectuals, signed this statement calling for political and human rights reforms and an end to one-party rule. The statement was released on December 10, 2008, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was translated by Perry Link and published in the New York Review of Books.


A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

By departing from these values, the Chinese government’s approach to “modernization” has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first century? Will it continue with “modernization” under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.

The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the beginning of what is often called “the greatest changes in thousands of years” for China. A “self-strengthening movement” followed, but this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and other Western material objects. China’s humiliating naval defeat at the hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China’s system of government. The first attempts at modern political change came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China’s imperial court. With the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia’s first republic, the authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting dream.

The failure of both “self- strengthening” and political renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a “cultural illness” was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise, during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of “science and democracy.” Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in 1931] brought national crisis.

Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of totalitarianism. The “new China” that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that “the people are sovereign” but in fact set up a system in which “the Party is all-powerful.” The Communist Party of China seized control of all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth [Tiananmen Square] Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to defend citizens’ rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled.

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China carries out mass arrests in Xinjiang

August 11, 2009
By John Chan,, August 11, 2009

The Chinese government is tightening its grip in the northwestern Uighur region of Xinjiang. On July 29, 253 people were arrested over their alleged involvement in the July 5 riot in Urumqi, the provincial capital. On August 2, an additional 319 were arrested.

The police had previously reported that over 1,400 had been detained shortly after the protest. Authorities claim that 197 people, mainly Han Chinese civilians, died at the hands of Uighur rioters, and 1,700 people were injured.

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Xinjiang unrest reveals fragility of Chinese state

July 13, 2009

John Chan |, 13 July 2009

The protests by Xinjiang’s Uighur workers and students on July 5 and the brutal military response of the Chinese government, reveal that, as celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the 1949 revolution approach, the very foundations of a unified China of 1.3 billion people, 56 ethnic nationalities and numerous languages, are being called into question.

The promises of the Chinese revolution—of building a land of socialism and equality based on the common ownership of means of production, thus unifying workers and peasant masses of all ethnic backgrounds—have long vanished.

The military-police and communal violence that claimed hundreds of lives in Urumqi last week have highlighted the glaring divisions between classes, ethnicities and geo-political regions throughout China, caused by the unequal distribution of social wealth. At the same time, the deployment of heavily-armed troops to Urumqi and other Xinjiang cities once again demonstrates how capitalist exploitation is being imposed.

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Why Obama doesn’t say a word about Deaths in China?

July 11, 2009
by Mohamed Elmasry | Media Monitors Network, Saturday, July 11, 2009

“Repression of the Uighurs has been widely documented for decades. Amnesty International has accused the Chinese government repeatedly of arbitrarily detaining thousands of Uighurs who were at serious risk of torture or ill treatment. It also condemned China for what it called “an assault on Uighur culture as a whole”- closing mosques, restricting the use of the Uighur language, and burning Uighur books and journals.”

“The total of all the Muslims killed in the 17th to the 19th centuries was about 12,000,000. This was the greatest racial genocide in Chinese history.”

“History reveals that the Han hatred of the Muslims, the short-sightedness of the Ch’ing rulers in their anti-Muslim policy and the narrow-mindedness of the Ch’ing Muslims in building their own kingdoms within China were responsible for the death of 12,000,000 Muslims and of an equal or larger number of Han Chinese. In addition, millions of acres of farmland became scorched earth and the Ch’ing treasury was depleted in financing wars. It ultimately led to the humiliation of the corrupt Ch’ing government by the Western powers and eventually to its downfall in 1911.”

— H. Y. Chang [1]

Last week, China’s president cut short his G8 summit trip to rush home after ethnic tensions in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang left at least 156 dead. A group of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, were holding a peaceful demonstration to demand a government inquiry into an earlier violent conflict with members of the country’s dominant Han ethnic group.

The deaths took place as government security forces clamped down on the Uighurs who make up the region’s largest ethnic group.

China has more than 50 ethnic minorities, totaling about 100 million, or eight per cent of China’s 1.3 billion people. There are 2.3 million Uighurs in Xinjiang (also called East Turkistan).

When state repression of minorities occurs, Tibet immediately comes to mind, but China’s measures taken against the Uighurs have been far more severe. Unlike the Tibetans, nobody seems to notice or care.

U.S. President Barack Obama has not say a word about the right of the Uighurs to demonstrate or demanded that the Chinese government respect that right.

Repression of the Uighurs has been widely documented for decades. Amnesty International has accused the Chinese government repeatedly of arbitrarily detaining thousands of Uighurs who were at serious risk of torture or ill treatment. It also condemned China for what it called “an assault on Uighur culture as a whole”- closing mosques, restricting the use of the Uighur language, and burning Uighur books and journals.

“Very appalling forms of torture have been recorded in Xinjiang, which as far as we know have never been occurring elsewhere in China,” reported Amnesty International.

The Chinese government has also been conducting cultural cleansing by moving a huge number of Han to Xinjiang. Uighurs complain that these Chinese immigrants enjoy the benefits of the economical development in their oil-rich province.

After 9/11, the Chinese government linked religion and separatism to terrorism and described the Uighur separatists as terrorists. It succeeded in getting one Uighur organization, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, placed on the United Nations’ list of international terrorist organizations. Four Uighurs captured in Afghanistan were incarcerated at Guantánamo for years before being dumped in Albania because no other country would provide them asylum.

Uighurs who have relatives abroad are being put under pressure to stop them from getting involved in any kind of political activity.

The Chinese government has blamed the recent unrest on Rebiya Kadeer, president of the Uigur American Association. She says that the Uighur Muslims have no freedom to practice their religion. The government has accused her of working to “split” China. (China claims control of Xinjiang, and Tibet, based on the fact these regions were once controlled by Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, who ruled most of China in the 13th century.)

Uighurs, like Tibetans, face open discrimination in the booming cities of China’s east and south, an issue highlighted by the beating to death of at least two Uighurs at a toy factory last month in the southern city of Shaoguan.

A mob of hundreds of Han Chinese attacked the workers following rumors that Uighurs raped two local women. “This incident could have been avoided if the Chinese authorities had properly investigated the Shaoguan killings,” said Kadeer.

She sees strong parallels between the unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet, including China’s demonization of minority groups advocating greater autonomy or independence.

She expressed her disappointment at the lack of condemnation of China’s recent crackdown. “For the most part, we are on our own,” she said.


[1]. The Hui (Muslim) minority in China: an historical overview
by H. Y. Chang, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 1469-9591, Volume 8, Issue 1, 1987, Pages 62 – 78

Further Reading:

Looking East: The Challenges and Opportunities of Chinese Islam
by Ridwan Khan, Haider Shamsi Award for Islamic Studies (HSAIS)

Jewel of Chinese Muslim’s Heritage
by Mohammed Khamouch, Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC)

Zheng He – the Chinese Muslim Admiral
by Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC)

The plight of the Uighurs: China’s Muslims suffering as much as the Tibetans
by Fahad Ansari

Religion and Ethics – Islam in China (650-present)
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

China’s Fearful Muslim Minority
by Ash Lucy, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)


Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Far Northwest – by Michael Dillon

Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China – by Jonathan N. Lipman

China’s Muslim Hui Community – by Michael Dillon

Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: Volume 2: The Rise of the West and Coming Genocide – by Mark Levene

The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1873 – by David Atwill

Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People’s Republic – by Dru Gladney

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century – by Ross E. Dunn

Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and Their Disputed Frontier – by S. C. M. Paine

Muslim History: 570-1950 C.E. – by Akram Zahoor

Related / External Link (s):


by courtesy & © 2009 Mohamed Elmasry

What if the Uighurs were Christian rather than Muslim?

July 7, 2009, Monday July 6, 2009

By Glenn Greenwald

According to The New York Times this morning, violent clashes between Chinese government forces and Muslim Uighurs — that country’s long-oppressed minority — have left at least 140 people dead and close to 1,000 injured.  This incident in Western China highlights an important fact about America’s “War on Terror.”

Just imagine if the Uighurs were a Christian — rather than Muslim — minority, battling against the tyrannical Communist regime in Beijing, resisting various types of persecution, and demanding religious freedom.  They would be lionized by America’s Right, as similar Christian minorities, oppressed by tyrannical regimes, automatically are.  Episodes like these — where a declared Tyranny like China violently acts against citizens with whom we empathize — are ones about which, in general, the American political class loves to sermonize.

But the Uighurs are Muslim, not Christian, and hostility towards them thus easily outweighs the opportunity they present to undermine the Chinese Government.  Rather than support and venerate them, we instead spent this decade declaring them to be “enemy combatants” and locking them up in Guantanamo — despite the fact that they have never evinced any interest in doing anything other than resisting Chinese persecution, and have certainly never taken actions against the U.S. (as even the Bush administration ultimately admitted).  Yet even now, both Congress and the administration actively block release into the U.S. even of those Uighurs we wrongfully imprisoned for years, while the Right screams with outrageand fear — over the administration’s commendable efforts to find a home for them elsewhere.

For all the Serious analysis about the War on Terror, so much of it has been driven by nothing more complex or noble than sheer hostility towards Muslims.  Muslims generally — not just Al Qaeda — replaced Communists as our New Enemy and became the new enabling force for our endless state of War and never-ending expansions of executive power.  Rather obviously, the Uighurs were swept into the Enemy category solely by virtue of their status as Muslims.  What more compelling evidence of that could be imagined than the fact that we imprisoned — and continue to imprison — people at Guantanamo whose only political interest is in resisting oppression by the Chinese government?

China: Release Jailed Rights Activist Hu Jia

October 2, 2008

Exonerate or Grant Medical Parole to Olympics Dissident

Human Rights Watch

(New York, October 2, 2008) – The Chinese government should immediately exonerate or grant medical parole to imprisoned human rights activist Hu Jia, Human Rights Watch said just ahead of the sixth-month anniversary of his flawed conviction. Human Rights Watch also called on the government to cease the harassment and surveillance of Hu’s wife Zeng Jinyan and infant daughter Qianci.

"Hu Jia was incarcerated for doing nothing more than exercising rights expressly guaranteed by China’s constitution. If the government won’t exonerate Hu, it should at least release him to get proper medical care. "

Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

A leading HIV/AIDS advocate, Hu Jia became an outspoken critic of human rights abuses related to the preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was sentenced to a three-and-a-half-year prison term on April 3, 2008, for “inciting subversion against the state.” Authorities have limited his access to his lawyer, thus violating Hu’s fundamental rights and resulting in proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards. He suffers from liver cirrhosis linked to chronic hepatitis B infection.

“Hu Jia was incarcerated for doing nothing more than exercising rights expressly guaranteed by China’s constitution,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “If the government won’t exonerate Hu, it should at least release him to get proper medical care.”

Hu, a long-time activist who originally focused on violations of the rights of Chinese citizens infected with HIV/AIDS, was formally arrested on January 30, 2008. He was charged with “incitement to subvert state power,” which criminalizes criticism of the government and the Communist Party of China. Hu’s criticisms included a September 2007 letter written with Teng Biao, a fellow human rights activist and leading civil rights lawyer, entitled “The Real China and the Olympics.” The letter detailed specific and wide-ranging violations of human rights by the government, and called on the international community to hold Beijing to the promises it made when bidding to host the Olympic Games, including improving human rights.

Human Rights Watch said that Hu’s arrest and conviction was part of a systematic crackdown on Chinese citizens critical of human rights abuses linked to the preparations for the 2008 Beijing Games. Other activists targeted by the Chinese government include Yang Chunlin, a property rights activist detained in July 2007 for his involvement in a petition, “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics,” signed by farmers protesting land seizures; Ye Guozhou, serving a four-year prison sentence for organizing protests against Olympics-related forced evictions; and Wang Ling, sentenced to 15 months of “re-education” in November 2007 for opposing demolition of her property for an Olympics-related project.

Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, has documented the decline in Hu’s health since his arrest in December on her blog. But, despite a 2006 diagnosis by Beijing’s Ditan Hospital of “acute liver cirrhosis,” the Chinese government in June 2008 rejected Zeng’s April 2008 application for Hu’s medical parole. Authorities told Zeng that Hu is not “critically ill,” and that any such applications can only be filed after he has served one-third of his sentence. On July 25, 2008, Zeng wrote that “[Hu’s] eyesight had declined greatly in his time at the detention centre. … [He] also said that because his right hand was handcuffed so tightly, it was digging into his flesh, and leaving marks.” On September 16, 2008, a national security officer told Zeng that medical parole for Hu was impossible because he had been “disobedient” and refused to be “quiet,” thus violating prison rules.

On September 8, 2008, Zeng also noted in a blog entry that prison authorities were confiscating letters that Hu had written and that they were refusing to allow Zeng and other relatives to visit Hu in line with prison regulations. Zeng said that police had told her they were linking an improvement in Hu’s prison conditions with an end to his activism for better conditions inside the prison. “He had put forward suggestions about how to improve the prison, and he wouldn’t drop the issue of human rights, thus making things difficult for the prison’s staff and management,” Zeng wrote in her blog.

Zeng has been under house arrest in Beijing since May 18, 2007, and continues to be the target of police surveillance along with her 10-month-old daughter Qianci. House arrest without charge is an extrajudicial punishment that has no legal basis in either Chinese or international law. Beijing police, who closely monitor Zeng’s activities and restrict her movement outside her apartment, escorted her and her daughter from their home on August 7, 2008, the day before the start of the Beijing Olympics, and kept her incommunicado in the coastal city of Dalian until August 23, the day before the end of the Beijing Games. “For 16 days, I knew nothing of what was going on in the world,” Zeng wrote in her blog. “Home remains the same – there are still plainclothes police officers in the courtyard and at all the exits.”

“The authorities’ relentless harassment of Zeng Jinyan and her young daughter not only violates their basic rights, but is essentially collective punishment for Hu Jia’s activities,” said Richardson. “Is this Beijing’s definition of the ‘rule of law?’”

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