According to the latest State Department report on human rights around the world, China is one of the nations whose government violates the rights and fundamental freedoms of people within its borders on a daily basis.
During a briefing marking the release of the report, Michael Kozak, Senior Bureau Official in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said the United States is “extremely concerned” about the growing level of repression in China.
“In terms of the increase over the last year, it’s been a bad situation for Falun Gong for a long time; it’s been bad for Uighurs; it’s been bad for Tibetans. But there seems to be amping of the level of repression against those groups and against society in general as well.”
The State Department report notes that in 2017 arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances remained a serious problem in China, especially for lawyers, human rights activists, journalists, religious leaders, and former political prisoners.
Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng went missing in August; his family was reportedly told he was in police custody at an undisclosed location. Lawyer Wang Quanzhang, detained in the July 2015 “709” roundup of human rights lawyers and legal associates, remained missing as well; his family has neither seen nor heard from him since his detention.
Another area of concern is the level of repression reported in Xinjiang and Tibet, which combines high tech surveillance and vastly increased policing. Hundreds of thousands of people have been detained or disappeared, often for no reason other than their Islamic or ethnic identity.
Additionally, the State Department reported other rights violations, including the government’s tight control of the media and the internet; its severe repression of organizations and individuals involved in human rights advocacy and ethnic minority issues; its birth-limitation policy that in some cases included coerced sterilization or abortion; and its significant restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, association, and movement.
Senior Bureau Official Kozak said the United States continues to express the same message for China’s leaders: “If you want to realize the full potential of the Chinese people…opening up is the way to do it, not clamping down.”