Report says China maintaining 'world’s most sophisticated system of authoritarian political control'
The findings of Freedom in the World 2012, the latest edition of Freedom House’s annual rights report for the year 2011, also gave China a downward trend arrow due to increased Communist Party efforts to restrict public discussion of political, legal, and human rights issues and growing online censorship.
China, along with Burma and Libya, were among the eight countries to receive scores that were slightly above those of the worst-ranked countries, with ratings of 6,7 or 7,6 for political rights and civil liberties, 7 being the worst.
The report noted that in 2011, authorities in China responded to the Arab uprisings with a “near-hysterical campaign” of repression by “censoring public discussion of the movement for Arab democratisation, prosecuting or arbitrarily detaining scores of social-media commentators and human rights lawyers, and strengthening the online censorship of domestic social-networking services”.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s pushback, which aimed to quash potential prodemocracy demonstrations before they even emerged, reached a crescendo in December with the sentencing of a number of dissident writers to long terms in prison,” the report said.
“China’s perpetual campaign of repression, directed at writers, lawyers, journalists, religious believers, ethnic minorities, and ordinary citizens who had spoken out against injustice and state abuses,” the Freedom House noted, “seemed only to show the staggering fears and weaknesses of a regime that otherwise presents the image of a confident, globally integrated economic powerhouse”.
The report observed that the Asia-Pacific region, despite China maintaining “the world’s most sophisticated and comprehensive system of authoritarian political control,” has shown impressive gains in the institutions of electoral democracy.
Freedom House said that the “embrace of free institutions” in the region took place in the face of significant obstacles, including, most notably, the influence of China, which the report went on to say “gained only modest traction in the region”.
“The Chinese leadership has demonstrated no serious interest in political liberalisation at home, and has devoted impressive resources to internet censorship, the suppression of minorities, and the elimination of even oblique political dissent”.
Freedom House in its annual report painted a grim future for any constructive involvement from China in the growth of aspiring democracies and the global economy.
“The very fact that the world’s most successful league of democracies would countenance involving two of the world’s great authoritarian powers (China and Russia) in its financial rescue is a chilling commentary on the current state of both the global economy and the democratic world’s political morality, not to mention its survival instincts”.