The United States is committed to protecting and promoting human rights around the world. That's why the U.S. State Department, for the last 34 years, has produced the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - the most comprehensive record available about human rights conditions around the world.
"We find ourselves in a moment when an increasing number of governments are imposing new and crippling restrictions on nongovernment organizations working to protect rights and enhance accountability," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 11, 2010, on the release of the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. This is particularly true in China, where non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, both local and international, continue to face intense scrutiny and restrictions.
Legal and surveillance efforts aimed at controlling them have increased. There were reports that the government maintained a task force aimed at blocking political change advocated by NGOs involved in social, political, and charitable activities. Similar, and at times more severe, levels of scrutiny and restriction were inflicted on dissidents and political activists and Tibetan and Uighur ethnic groups.
Chinese authorities increased efforts to monitor Internet use, control content, block access to foreign and domestic Web sites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who violate regulations. The Chinese government employs thousands of persons at all levels to monitor electronic communications. China exerts tight control over activities and people that the government perceives as a threat to the Chinese Communist Party. For example, lawyers who take cases deemed sensitive by the government increasingly are harassed or disbarred, and entire law firms have been closed.
The Chinese government also increased repression of Tibetans and Uighurs. The government tightened controls on Uighurs expressing peaceful political dissent and on independent Muslim religious leaders, often citing counterterrorism as a justification.
In Tibetan areas of China, the Chinese government's human rights record remains poor as authorities committed extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and extrajudicial detentions. Authorities sentenced Tibetans for alleged support of Tibetan independence, regardless of whether their activities involved violence.
Despite official monitoring and censorship, dissidents and political activists continue to use the internet to call attention to causes such as prisoner advocacy, political reform, ethnic discrimination, and corruption.
The principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are a timeless standard that every country, including China, should uphold. "We recommit ourselves," said Secretary Clinton, "to continue the hard work of making human rights a human reality," around the world.