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China defends rights record in review by UN council

[JURIST] The Chinese delegation to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] defended China's human rights record Monday while presenting a report [text, PDF] in compliance with the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) [official website] process. Ambassador Li Baodong said that China has been taking steps to improve its legal system [press release], promote democracy, and encourage non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The report asserted that

[s]ince 1978, when China launched its policy of reform and opening up, there has been a significant advancement in the level and extent of the Chinese people’s enjoyment of all human rights. The Chinese people, who once lacked basic necessities, are now enjoying relative prosperity. There has been constant progress in such social spheres as education, culture and public health. Democracy and the rule of law have gradually improved. Political restructuring has progressed steadily, with more extensive citizen participation in the political life of the country. Governments at all levels are now conscientiously implementing the Scientific Outlook on Development, an approach that places people first and seeks to ensure comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development, in an effort to build a harmonious society characterized by democracy, the rule of law, equity and justice. China will further deepen its political restructuring and accelerate social development, focusing on education, health care, employment and other aspects of the people’s welfare in order to ensure that all people enjoy their rights to equal participation and equal development.
Although Chinese delegates took a series of questions from delegates from other nations, denying that the government runs secret prisons or engages in torture, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said it did not believe the questioning went far enough. Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at AI Roseann Rife said [press release], "We didn't hear enough about the on-going repression of the Tibetans, the Uighurs, as well as the persecution of various religious groups, including Christians and members of the Falun Gong."

China continues to be widely criticized for its human rights record. In November, the UN Committee Against Torture [official website] expressed deep concern over repeated allegations that China authorities continued the routine and widespread practice of torture [JURIST report] and ill-treatment of suspects to extract confessions. Earlier that month, the State Council Information Office of China [official site, in Mandarin] announced that the country would draft a plan to protect human rights [JURIST report]. No information was provided as to when the plan would be released.

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