Gap widening between Chinese gov’t and people on rights and reform issues

TibetanReview:  Despite swelling demands for change, including for political and other reforms, from citizens, the Chinese government remains stuck in being determined to maintain the status quo, with “maintaining stability” being its primary concern, said the US Congressional Executive-Commission on China (CECC) in its latest annual report released Oct 10. The CECC cited a diverse set of often “unprecedented” issues that had led to protests in China — including worker strikes for higher wages and better working conditions, self-immolations in Tibet against Chinese rule, protests over confiscation of grasslands in Inner Mongolia, and demonstrations against land seizures and pollution.

The Commission, which monitors human rights and the development of rule of law in China, has noted “a deepening disconnect between the growing demands of the Chinese people and the Chinese government’s ability and desire to meet such demands.”

The report, which was sent to the US Congress and President Barack Obama, said efforts by citizens themselves to improve China’s political institutions were largely stymied, with a number of independent candidates for local people’s congress elections having been subjected to intense pressure or winnowed out before the polls took place.

Minority groups, particularly those in Tibetan autonomous areas and in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, frequently protested policies they saw as diluting their cultural heritage, the CECC said. And when such  groups protested the  “authorities continued to respond with policies that can only be expected to further trample on the protection of language, culture, and religion, as well as impede prospects for local autonomous governance that the Chinese Constitution and law are
supposed to protect,” the report said.

The report noted some improvements such as the passing of the Criminal Procedure Law in China in Mar 2012 and greater transparency on pollution but called them only symbolic half-measures rather than real, meaningful reform.

In other areas, the commission continued, the Chinese government had simply stalled on reforms, including on efforts to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), removing obstacles to the registration of civil society organizations, and resuming dialogue with Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

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