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China government cites human rights improvements

The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China [official website, in Chinese] released a position paper [press release, in Chinese] Sunday on the country's human rights record, claiming that it has heightened Internet freedoms and improved civil and political rights. The Progress in China's Human Rights in 2009 [text] white paper cites seven progressions in Chinese human rights areas, including:

China's stable and rapid economic development, improving citizens' living conditions, per capita income, and public health; Strengthened civil and political rights and furthering democracy and the legal system; Improvements to judicial protections of human rights and law enforcement; The Chinese government's promotion of citizens' economic, social, and cultural rights; Equal access to the Chinese constitution and civil rights for all ethnic groups and increased support for minority groups; Increased protection to the rights of people with disabilities; and China's active cooperation and participation in the area of international human rights causes.
The white paper also describes how the Internet has become a tool for the Chinese government [Xinhua report] to promote transparency and consult the public before developing certain policies. While the government said freedom of speech is protected on the Internet, it also attached value to the Internet's role in supervision [Xinhua report]. Last year, China issued its first national plan [JURIST report] aimed at protecting human rights. The National Human Rights Action Plan of China [text] was framed by the Chinese Constitution [text] and based on principles [Xinhua report] found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text] and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text], which the government has signed [accession chart] but not ratified [JURIST report].

In July, Chinese Internet regulators planned to drastically reduce Internet anonymity [JURIST report] by requiring users to use their real names when posting on certain Chinese websites, according to documents [text] released by New York-based human rights group Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website]. HRIC's revelation comes on the heels of a June announcement that Google will continue to operate its google.cn Internet search engine in mainland China, ending a four-month period during which the site simply redirected to the uncensored google.hk [search websites; JURIST report] after the company threatened in January to pull out of China entirely [JURIST report]. Earlier that month, the Chinese government defended [JURIST report] its Internet censorship laws in a report [materials] on Internet usage in the country. In February, the government announced new regulations [JURIST report] further restricting Internet use by requiring Chinese citizens to submit identity cards and meet with regulars before registering a website, prompting many to register sites overseas to avoid regulation.

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