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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - China

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1996
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - China, 30 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa7914.html [accessed 11 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
CHINA

 

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the paramount source of power. At the national and regional levels, party members hold almost all top civilian, police, and military positions. Retired senior leaders retain considerable power, but the top leadership announced in mid-1995 that ultimate authority had been passed to the younger generation of Communist Party leaders that makes up the 21-member Politburo. Economic decentralization has increased the authority of regional officials. Socialism continues to provide the ideological underpinning of Chinese politics, but Marxist ideology has given way to pragmatism in recent years. The party's authority rests primarily on the success of economic reform, its ability to maintain stability, appeals to patriotism, and control of the security apparatus.

The security apparatus comprises the Ministries of State Security and Public Security, the People's Armed Police, the People's Liberation Army, and the state judicial, procuratorial, and penal systems. The security forces were responsible for numerous human rights abuses.

China has a mixed economy that is robust and expanding rapidly. Economic reforms continue to raise living standards, encourage private entrepreneurial activity, diminish central control over the economy, and create new economic opportunities. Income disparities between coastal regions and the interior are significant and growing, but there has been a sharp drop in the number of Chinese living in absolute poverty in recent years.

During the year the Government continued to commit widespread and well-documented human rights abuses, in violation of internationally accepted norms, stemming both from the authorities' intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms. Abuses included arbitrary and lengthy incommunicado detention, forced confessions, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners. Prison conditions remained harsh. The Government continued severe restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, privacy, movement, and worker rights.

Although the Government denies that it holds political prisoners, the number of persons detained or serving sentences for "counterrevolutionary crimes" or for criminal convictions for peaceful political or religious activities are believed to number in the hundreds--perhaps thousands. The Government still has not provided a comprehensive, credible public accounting of all those missing or detained in connection with the suppression of the 1989 demonstrations. Persons detained during 1995 included activists arrested after the issuance of prodemocracy petitions in March and May. Throughout the year, Chinese leaders moved swiftly to cut off organized expressions of protest or criticism and detained government critics, including those advocating worker rights. Discrimination against women, minorities, and the disabled, and violence against women and the abuse of children remain problems.

Although the Government permits local, competitive elections in villages inhabited by millions of rural Chinese, citizens have no ability peacefully to change either their leaders at higher levels of government or the form of government. The Constitution provides for fundamental human rights, but they are frequently ignored in practice, and challenges to the CCP's political authority are often dealt with harshly and arbitrarily. Legal safeguards for those detained or imprisoned are ignored or inconsistently implemented. The Government attaches higher priority to maintaining public order and suppressing political opposition than to enforcing legal norms. For example, the judicial system denies criminal defendants basic legal safeguards such as due process or adequate defense, as demonstrated by the 20-month incommunicado detention, abrupt formal arrest, and sentencing to 14 years' imprisonment of leading dissident Wei Jingsheng for the peaceful expression of his political beliefs.

Overall, in 1995 the authorities stepped up repression of dissent. By year's end, almost all public dissent against the central authorities was silenced by intimidation, exile, or imposition of prison terms or administrative detention. The Government's November decision to name a Panchen Lama without the Dalai Lama's concurrence was symptomatic of the politicization of this question and a broader tightening of strictures on some religious believers. Nonofficial Christian churches and some Muslim groups also experienced intensified repression in 1995. In similar fashion, the Government strengthened controls over disaffected ethnic groups in Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang.

During 1995 the Government also took some steps that raised the possibility of positive developments in the human rights situation in China over the long term. In August and September the Government hosted the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women and an associated Nongovernmental Organizations Forum (NGO Forum) both of which discussed women's and universal human rights. Government restrictions on the free exercise of internationally recognized freedoms of speech and association hampered the discussion, however. The Government also moved forward with legislation designed to make political and judicial processes more transparent. In February the National Peoples' Congress (NPC) passed three new laws designed to hold judges, prosecutors, and policemen to higher standards; the new laws came into effect July 1. In October the Ministry of Justice promulgated implementing regulations for 1994 legislation that allows citizens to sue government agencies for malfeasance and to collect damages. The Government has also drafted a lawyer's law that would clarify the nature of the attorney-client relationship, improve professional standards, separate most lawyers from state employment, and improve the ability of citizens to defend their legal interests; the legislature had not passed this law by year's end. In many respects, Chinese society continued to open up: greater disposable income, looser ideological controls, and freer access to outside sources of information have led to greater room for individual choice, more diversity in cultural life, and increased media reporting. Although the sale and use of satellite dishes are tightly regulated, satellite television broadcasts are widely available, particularly in coastal areas. Telephone and facsimile communication is also extensively used. In many cities, the introduction of commercial Internet service promoted access to international sources of information. At year's end, however, new government limits on Internet access threatened to halt the growth of Internet use. In addition, new controls on reporting economic information introduced doubts about the Government's commitment to freedom of information. Government control of news media generally continues to depend on self-censorship to regulate political and social content, but the authorities also consistently penalize those who exceed the permissable. China continued a human rights dialog with some foreign interlocutors in the first half of 1995. Although no formal dialogs were held in the second half of the year, the Government agreed in late 1955 to schedule some bilateral dialogs in early 1996. The Government is increasingly willing to acknowledge openly certain human rights problems, especially official abuse of citizens' rights; some of these abuses are documented in the press.

Respect for Human Rights

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

The number of extrajudicial killings by government officials in 1995, or the adequacy of the government response, is impossible to determine because the Government restricts access to such information. There were individual accounts of such killings, including some carried in the Chinese press. In February the former director of a police station in Tangshan, Hebei, was sentenced to death for torturing a suspect to death; five other policeman were sentenced to 5 to 15 years' imprisonment for their involvement. A policeman in Hebei was sentenced to death in February for shooting a peasant to death during a dispute over a traffic accident. In March an authoritative article in the People's Daily described a case in which several village officials were sentenced to death or prison for murdering a peasant who had complained about arbitrary fees. In a report to the NPC in March, China's Chief Procurator described a case in Heilongjiang where police had tried to frame a suspect for murder, but the Procuratorate discovered that the victim had actually been tortured to death. The true culprit was then arrested.

b. Disappearance

Disappearances and long incommunicado detentions continued in 1995. There were no indications that security forces killed those who were taken into custody.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Both official Chinese sources and international human rights groups continued to report many cases in which police and other elements of the security apparatus employed torture and degrading treatment in dealing with detained and imprisoned persons in violation of legal prohibitions. Persons detained pending trial were particularly at risk as a result of government failure to correct obvious systemic weaknesses in the design and operation of the legal system. These weaknesses include a reliance on confessions as a basis for convictions and the lack of access to prisoners by legal counsel and family members until after authorities file formal charges, a step which often takes months. Former detainees have credibly reported that officials used cattle prods, electrodes, prolonged periods of solitary confinement and incommunicado detention, beating, shackles, and other forms of abuse against detained men and women.

Against the background of these reports, the Government claims to have undertaken a campaign to reduce incidents of torture. Because prisoners remain inaccessible to international humanitarian organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), these claims are impossible to verify. In March the Supreme People's Procuratorate reported it had investigated 409 cases in which torture was used to extract confessions in 1994, but it provided no information on convictions or punishments. The number of actual incidents of torture and ill-treatment by government officials is almost certainly far greater than this statistic indicates. The Chinese press reported in February that five public security officers from Shanxi were sentenced to death for extracting a confession through torture; another five were sentenced to 5 years to life imprisonment in the same case. Anhui Province investigated 26 cases of torture in 1994, while Shanghai's procuratorate reported 9 cases. Shenzhen authorities reportedly investigated 17 policemen for conducting "forced interrogations" in 1994. In April procuratorate officials emphasized the need to crack down on cases of favoritism, dereliction of duty, major accidents, extortion of confessions by torture, and illegal detention.

Chinese officials reported in 1994 that the Procuratorate had assigned a total of 748 officials to China's jails, "reform through labor," and "reeducation through labor" facilities. Their responsibility was to supervise prison management and enforce laws on treatment of prisoners. Procuratorial offices or officers were assigned in 1994 to approximately 94 percent of prisons and labor camps. In 1994 another 7,000 officials were responsible for supervising China's detention centers.

In December 1994, China enacted a new prison law designed, in part, to improve treatment of detainees and respect for their legal rights. Conditions in penal institutions are generally harsh and frequently degrading, and nutritional and health conditions are sometimes grim. Adequate medical care for prisoners continues to be a problem, despite official assurances that prisoners have the right to prompt medical treatment if they become ill. In 1995 political prisoners who reportedly had difficulties in obtaining timely and adequate medical treatment included Bao Tong, Ren Wanding, Gao Yu, Zhang Xianliang, and Fu Shenqi. In July authorities released Yang Zhou, who had developed a tumor in his throat, on medical parole; he received permission to go to the United States in September for medical treatment. Chen Ziming, who had been released on medical parole in 1994, had his medical parole abruptly revoked in June, and he was returned to prison despite having been diagnosed as suffering from cancer. Gyaltsen Kelsang, a Tibetan nun, died in February after her release on medical parole in December 1994. According to international human rights groups, she had been mistreated in prison and had been diagnosed with severe kidney problems.

The Chinese press reported in February that the Government has established 157 psychological treatment centers and 54 consultation clinics in the nation's 685 prisons. The same report claimed that more than 17,000 prisoners were treated at those facilities over the past 10 years. There was no information in 1995 indicating whether detained dissidents are incarcerated in psychiatric institutions and treated with drugs. Neither conditions at such institutions nor treatment of prisoners at these centers could be verified because of lack of access by independent observers.

Conditions of imprisonment for political prisoners vary widely. Political prisoners are often incarcerated with common criminals. In January fellow inmates at a Wuhan prison beat Tong Yi, former secretary of Wei Jingsheng, on at least two occasions. Ren Wanding, Zhang Lin, and Qin Yongmin have reportedly also been severely beaten by other inmates.

China does not permit independent monitoring of prisons. The Procuratorate, charged with law enforcement in the corrections system, in 1994 reported 39,342 violations of law in prisons, 17,823 of which were corrected. In March the Government indefinitely postponed negotiations with the ICRC regarding access to prisoners.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Under the Criminal Procedure Law, officials may hold detainees for up to 10 days before the Procuratorate must approve a formal arrest warrant. In theory, the Administrative Procedure Law permits a detainee to challenge the legality of his or her detention. In practice, however, lack of access to legal counsel inhibits the effective use of this law to obtain prompt judicial decisions on the issue. The State Compensation Law that came into force on January 1 provides a legal basis for citizens to recover damages for illegal detentions. There is no judicially supervised system of bail, but at the discretion of public security officials some detainees can be released pending further investigation. The authorities must notify the detainee's family or work unit of his detention within 24 hours; in practice, however, authorities seldom give timely notification. Under a sweeping exception to the law, officials need not provide notification if it would "hinder the investigation" of a case.

In 1994 the Government issued revised public order regulations setting out penalties for social groups that failed to register with the proper authorities or for persons on parole or deprived of political rights who "violate regulations," as well as for several other offenses. With some exceptions, violators can be detained for up to 15 days and fined about $23 (RMB200).

Because the Government tightly controls information, it is impossible to estimate accurately the total number of people subjected to new or continued arbitrary arrest or detention. Nevertheless, Procurator General Zhang Siqing reported in March to the NPC that during 1994 the Supreme Procuratorate investigated 4,441 illegal detention cases involving 316 judicial officers. These figures likely include illegal detentions of those involved in commercial disputes as well as those detained for political reasons.

In practice, authorities often disregarded or circumvented limits on detention by using regulations on "taking in for shelter and investigation," "supervised residence," and other methods not requiring procuratorial approval. Dissident Wei Jingsheng was held incommunicado, without charge in "supervised residence" from April 1994 until the Government filed formal subversion charges in November 1995. Wei was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment in December. Several other political activists, including Wang Dan, Liu Nianchun,

Liu Xiaobo, Huan Xiang, Wang Donghai, and others were detained in May and continued to be held without charge at year's end.

The authorities also used parole regulations to control activists' activities. In April Guangdong dissident Wang Xizhe's parole, scheduled to end on April 20, was extended through 1999. Under the terms of his parole, Wang must report to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) monthly and request PSB permission before leaving Guangzhou. In order to air his grievances, Wang traveled in May to Beijing, where authorities arrested and beat him. In June he was transferred to Guangzhou and released. In September a Guangzhou court denied his appeal of the parole extension.

Local officials and business leaders frequently conspire to use detentions as a means of exerting pressure in commercial disputes. In September a Chinese U.S. legal permanent resident, Cui Peiyan, was abducted from his home in Fuzhou, Fujian province, by off-duty public security officers acting at the direction of the Hunan Provincial Animal Byproducts Corporation (HTSC), with which he had a commercial dispute. Until his escape 6 weeks later, he was held in a shed and beaten regularly. His wife reported that she was repeatedly called by HTSC employees demanding money. In April the Chief Procurator of Zhejiang, a coastal province with significant foreign trade and investment, reported 146 cases in 1994 of illegal hostage-taking in trade disputes. In March U.S. citizen Troy McBride and a partner were detained for several weeks at a hotel in Hefei, Anhui Province, in connection with a business dispute after a local court seized the American's passport. There were numerous similar cases involving detained foreign businessmen whose passports were confiscated. Australian businessman James Peng, whom Chinese public security officials kidnaped in Macau in 1994 and brought to China for trial, was tried publicly in November 1994, but not sentenced until September. He received a lengthy prison sentence; his appeal was denied, and he remains detained in China.

Security personnel sometimes "invited" activists to take vacations at government expense outside of Beijing and other cities at sensitive times. The alternative to accepting such invitations was detention. A number of activists left Beijing on government-sponsored "vacations" during the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women. Tong Zeng, who planned to lobby conference participants for Japanese compensation for atrocities committed during World War II, was reportedly forced to leave Beijing for 21 days in the company of 20 public security officers. He spent the duration of the conference in Guangxi, a province in southern China. Liu Nianchun reportedly received an invitation to take a government-paid holiday with his family to Hainan Island during the period of the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. It is possible that his refusal to leave Beijing was related to his May 21 detention.

Other activists who might otherwise have been in contact with foreigners during the conference were detained under questionable official charges. Ding Zilin and Jiang Peikun, whose son died during the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations, were held in the eastern city of Wuxi in connection with an "economic" dispute. Authorities sentenced Liu Gang to 15 days confinement reportedly for breaching post-release conditions. Wang Zhihong, wife of Chen Ziming, was summoned in August to move to the Beijing prison where her husband is held, and detained with him during the conference.

Although there are no reports of the Government forcibly exiling citizens, authorities imposed restrictions on reentry into China by dissidents and activists (see Section 2.d.).

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

According to the Constitution, the court system is equal in authority to the State Council and the Central Military Commission, the two most important government institutions. All three organs are nominally under the supervision of the NPC. Officials insist that China's judiciary is independent but acknowledge that it is subject to the Communist Party's policy guidance. In practice, party and government leaders use a variety of means to pressure the courts on verdicts and sentences. Corruption and conflicts of interest also affect judicial decisionmaking. Supreme Court President Ren Jianxin reported in March to the NPC that in 1994 the judiciary disciplined some 1,094 court staff for illegal exercise of duty, and 34 judges received criminal penalties. The Supreme People's Court stands at the apex of the court system, followed in descending order by the higher, intermediate, and basic people's courts. Judges are appointed by the people's congresses at the corresponding level. There are special courts for handling military, maritime, and railway transport cases.

In February the NPC passed three new laws designed to professionalize judges, prosecutors, and policemen. Leading judicial officials exhorted the courts and law enforcement agencies to implement the new laws, which came into effect on July 1.

In practice, officials often ignore due process provisions of the Constitution. Both before and after trial, prisoners are subjected to severe psychological pressure to confess. Defendants who fail to "show the right attitude" by confessing their crimes are typically sentenced more harshly. There is no presumption of innocence in the criminal justice system. Criminal trials remain essentially sentencing hearings, despite official denials. Confessions without corroborating evidence are insufficient for a conviction under law, but coerced confessions are frequently introduced into evidence.

The case of U.S. citizen Harry Wu exemplified problems with the lack of procedural and substantive due process of law and also the problem of forced confessions. On June 19, Chinese authorities detained Wu when he applied for entry at a border post in Xinjiang Province on a U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa. Official government statements characterized Wu as a "criminal" weeks before his court trial. On July 27, the Government released a videotape which the official press characterized as a "confession" of Wu's alleged crimes; Wu's interrogators filmed his statements without his knowledge. Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang told the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva on August 4 that Wu was a criminal who stole national secrets. On August 24, Wu was tried and convicted to 14 years in prison at a trial attended by a U.S. diplomat that otherwise was closed to the public. Wu was expelled from China the same day; he returned to the United States.

The authorities give accused persons virtually no opportunity to prepare an adequate defense while their cases are being investigated, the phase during which the question of guilt or innocence is essentially decided. The law provides that defense lawyers may be retained no earlier than 7 days before trial. However, in some cases even this brief period is shortened under regulations issued in 1983 to accelerate the adjudication of certain serious criminal cases. Under the law, there is no requirement that the court appoint a defense attorney for the defendant unless the defendant is hearing impaired or a minor, although the court may appoint defense counsel if it feels an attorney is necessary. When attorneys do appear, they have little time to prepare a defense and rarely contest guilt; their function is generally confined to requesting clemency. The conviction rate is over 90 percent. The court's permission is required before the accused or his representative can interrogate witnesses, produce new witnesses, or review evidence.

Political dissidents have not always been able to choose their own attorneys. In the case of Harry Wu, the authorities permitted Wu to choose only from a list of government-approved names. In the case of Shanghai dissident Yang Zhou, the authorities permitted Yang's wife to represent him in court, but later retaliated by revoking her license to practice law.

Chinese legal scholars and lawyers acknowledge that the legal system has some serious shortcomings and assert that reforms are under way. For example, an experimental trial system tested in 1994 has now been approved for use in Shanghai and other jurisdictions for most civil cases. The new system, which applies only to civil cases, introduces an adversarial element into trials by giving attorneys more responsibility for presenting evidence and arguing facts.

Government officials state that China has an insufficient number of lawyers to meet the country's growing needs. A key element in Justice Ministry efforts to encourage legal reform is a plan to have 150,000 lawyers, 30,000 notaries, and 200,000 grassroots legal service workers by the year 2000. Vice Minister of Justice Liu Yang stated in May that China currently has 80,000 lawyers, 16,000 notaries, and 100,000 grassroots legal service workers. According to the All China Lawyers Association, China has 7,000 law firms. In many cities, lawyers are organizing private law firms outside the framework of established government legal offices. These firms are self-regulating and do not have their personnel or budgets determined directly by the state. A foreign press report quoted Justice Ministry officials as stating that there were approximately 1,000 such firms in early 1995. Only a small percentage of lawyers practice criminal law. Like other Chinese, many defense lawyers still depend on an official work unit for employment, housing, and other benefits. They are reportedly often reluctant to be viewed as overzealous in representing defendants in politically sensitive cases. In some such cases, relatives of defendants reported finding it difficult to hire defense lawyers.

The Criminal Procedure Law requires that all trials be held in public, except those involving state secrets, juveniles, or "personal secrets." Details of cases involving "counterrevolutionary" charges, however, have frequently been kept secret, even from defendants' relatives, under this provision. The 1988 Law on State Secrets affords a ready basis for denying a public trial. There is an appeals process, but initial decisions are rarely overturned, and appeals generally do not provide meaningful protection against arbitrary or erroneous verdicts. Under the Criminal Procedure Law, persons "exempted from prosecution" by procurators may still be deemed to have a criminal record, despite the lack of a judicial determination of guilt. Such provisions can be applied in counterrevolutionary crimes as well as for ordinary criminal offenses.

Lack of due process has egregious consequences when defendants receive the death sentence. China's 1979 Criminal Code contained 26 crimes punishable by death; 1995 legislation raised this number to 65. In June the NPC approved legislation permitting the death penalty for such financial crimes as counterfeiting currency, passing fake negotiable notes and letters of credit, and illegal "pooling" of funds. In the late 1980's, research of the Chinese press put the total number of executions between 125 and 150 persons. In 1995 approximately 1,100 death sentences were reported in the Chinese media. The actual number of executions was probably significantly higher. A high court nominally reviews all death sentences, but the time between arrest and execution is often a matter of days, and reviews have consistently resulted in a confirmation of sentence. In October a bank robber in Shenyang was put to death 5 days after being captured; three peasants who committed armed robbery on September 27 were put to death in "late September;" and a failed stock market investor who went on a shooting spree in Shenyang on October 24 was executed on October 29. In a rare public admission of error, a Liaoning court in August exonerated Li Xiuwu of stealing and murder and executed the "real" killer. Li had been put to death in August 1988. No executions for political offenses are known to have occurred in 1995.

In recent years, credible reports have alleged that organs from some executed prisoners are removed and transplanted. During 1995 officials confirmed that executed prisoners are among the primary sources of organs for transplant in China. Officials assert consent is required from prisoners or their relatives before organs are removed, but this assertion could not be verified. Officials acknowledge that China lacks national legislation governing organ donations.

Justice Ministry statistics issued in January showed that China has imprisoned and released approximately 10 million prisoners since 1949; there were 1,285,000 prisoners in prisons or reform through labor camps at the end of 1994. Only courts can sentence prisoners to these facilities. However, government authorities can assign persons accused of "minor" public order offenses to reeducation through labor camps in an extrajudicial process. Terms of detention run from a normal minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years. The Labor Reeducation Committee, which determines the term of detention, may extend an inmate's sentence for an additional year. According to prison officials, 200,000 detainees were in reeducation through labor facilities at the end of 1995, up from 153,000 at the end of 1993. Other estimates of the number of such inmates are considerably higher. Officials said that in 1993 the Government released 75,900 persons from reeducation through labor facilities. Under a State Council Regulation issued in early 1991, those sentenced to reeducation through labor may ask the committee to reconsider its decision.

Since 1990 defendants have been able to challenge reeducation through labor sentences under the Administrative Procedure Law. While some persons have gained a reduction in or withdrawal of their sentences after reconsideration or appeal, in practice these procedures are not widely used, and short appeal times, lack of access to lawyers, and other problems weaken their effectiveness in preventing or reversing arbitrary decisions. Before departing the country in September, Yang Zhou unsuccessfully appealed the reeducation through labor sentence that he received in September 1994. Irregular appellate procedures in his case included inadequate notice of the hearing, and a shift of venue from Shanghai to a labor camp hundreds of miles away.

The number of political prisoners has declined in recent years, but hundreds--perhaps thousands--of such people remain imprisoned or detained. Government officials deny that China holds any political prisoners, asserting that authorities detain persons not for the political or religious views they hold, but because they have taken some action which violates the Criminal Law.

Political dissidents, however, are often detained or charged with having committed counterrevolutionary crimes under Articles 90 through 104 of the Criminal Law. Counterrevolutionary offenses range from treason and espionage to spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda. The authorities have also used these articles to punish persons who organized demonstrations, disrupted traffic, disclosed official information to foreigners, or formed associations outside of state control. In other cases, the system of reeducation through labor is used to punish political offenders without taking their cases to the courts.

In January 1995, a Justice Ministry official said that there were 2,678 people serving sentences for counterrevolutionary crimes at the end of 1994. These figures include people convicted of espionage or other internationally recognized criminal offenses, but do not include political prisoners detained but not charged; political or religious activists held in reeducation through labor camps; and persons detained or convicted for criminal offenses solely involving nonviolent political or religious activities.

The 1988 Law on State Secrets affords a ready basis for denying a public trial. Details regarding such cases under this provision are frequently kept secret, even from defendants' relatives. In January the authorities acknowledged for the first time that Democracy Wall activist Zhao Fengping has remained in prison since 1980, despite previous claims that all activists from that era had been released. Human rights monitors expressed concern that other less well-known activists from this period may also be serving prison sentences.

The Government released during 1995 certain prisoners detained for political or religious reasons, including Yang Zhou. Nevertheless, many others, including Wei Jingsheng, Ren Wanding, Bao Tong, Zhang Lin, Bao Ge, Li Guotao, Yang Qingheng, and Dai Xuezhong, remained imprisoned or under other forms of detention. Some of those released in 1995 or earlier, such as Chen Ziming and Wang Dan, were harassed by authorities after their release and then rearrested in connection with prodemocracy petitions submitted in March and May (see Section l.d.).

The Government subjects many prisoners--including political prisoners--to "deprivation of political rights" even after they have served their sentences. This status further limits rights of free speech and association. Former prisoners often find their status in society, ability to find employment, freedom to travel, and access to social services severely restricted. Economic reform and social change have ameliorated these problems to some extent in recent years. The families of political prisoners are sometimes subjected to police surveillance and harassment and also may encounter difficulty in obtaining or keeping employment and housing. For example, government harassment has prevented relatives of Chen Ziming from obtaining and keeping steady employment. In September the authorities froze the joint bank account of Chen Ziming and his wife, Wang Zhihong.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

Economic liberalization is creating diverse employment opportunities and introducing market forces into the economy, thus loosening governmental monitoring and regulation of personal and family life, particularly in rural areas. In urban areas, however, most people still depend on their government-linked work unit for housing, permission to have a child, approval to apply for a passport, and other aspects of ordinary life. The work unit, along with the neighborhood committee, is charged with monitoring activities and attitudes.

Although the law requires search warrants before security forces can search premises, this provision is often ignored in practice. In addition, both the Public Security Bureau and Procuratorate apparently can issue search warrants on their own authority. The 1982 Constitution states that "freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens are protected by law." In practice, however, authorities frequently record telephone conversations of foreign visitors, businessmen, diplomats, residents, and journalists as well as Chinese dissidents and activists and others. Authorities also open and censor domestic and international mail. In March Procurator General Zhang Siqing reported to the National People's Congress that in 1994 the Supreme People's Procuratorate investigated 1,772 cases of illegal search or intrusion, and 104 cases of violations of the right of correspondence. Government security organs monitor and sometimes restrict contact between foreigners and citizens, particularly dissidents. Rules implementing the State Security Law define as a violation of the law "activities of individuals outside the country

(including non-Chinese citizens resident in China) who disregard dissuasion and meet with personnel in the country who have endangered state security or who are seriously suspected of endangering state security."

The Government permitted increased international correspondence and information access when commercial Internet accounts became available in May. According to press reports, between March and July alone the number of computers associated with the Internet increased from 400 to 6,000, and the number of users rose from 3,000 to 40,000. However, in the beginning of 1996 a moratorium on new Internet accounts and new regulations governing the content of Internet information threatened this rapid growth. Generally, the regulations appear to be designed to impose the same restrictions on the Internet as now limit public discourse in China: computer experts have reported that the authorities appear to be primarily seeking ways to limit explicit antigovernment political activity on the Internet. Chinese Internet technicians have prevented access to information from dissident groups abroad. At present, however, authorities appear to lack the technical expertise and resources to censor effectively information on the Internet. For example, politically controversial homepages remain accessible. New controls on dissemination of economic information also introduced doubts about the Government's commitment to expanding public access to information. The authorities continued to jam selectively Chinese language broadcasts of the Voice of America (VOA). The effectiveness of the jamming varies considerably by region, with audible signals of VOA and other broadcasters reaching most parts of China, including the capital.

The Government continued to implement comprehensive and highly intrusive one-child family planning policies first adopted in the late 1970's. An official announcement in February that the population had reached 1.2 billion, roughly double the population of 40 years ago, suggested that Chinese efforts to control population growth have had mixed results. China's population policy most heavily affects ethnic Han Chinese in urban areas. Urban couples seldom obtain permission to have a second child. Exceptions are allowed for the 70 percent of Han who live in rural areas, and ethnic minorities are subject to less stringent population controls.

Population control policy relies on education, propaganda, and economic incentives, as well as on more coercive measures including psychological pressure and economic penalties. Rewards for couples that adhere to the policy include monthly stipends and preferential medical and educational benefits. Disciplinary measures against those who violate the policy include fines, withholding of social services, demotion, and other administrative punishments, including, in some instances, loss of employment. Fines for giving birth without authorization vary but they can be a formidable disincentive. In Guangzhou, for example, the standard fine is calculated to be 30 to 50 percent of 7 years' income for the average resident. Unpaid fines have sometimes resulted in confiscation or destruction of personal property. Because penalties for excess births can be levied against local officials and the mothers' work units, many individuals are affected, providing multiple sources of pressure.

According to a government white paper released in August, more than 200 million married couples of childbearing age, or about 80 per cent of all couples in that age group, use contraception. The Government does not authorize physical compulsion to submit to abortion or sterilization, but Chinese officials acknowledge that there are instances of forced abortions and sterilizations. Officials maintain that, when discovered, the responsible officials are disciplined and undergo retraining, but they provided no data or examples to verify this assertion. Officials admit, however, that more severe punishment is rare. Individuals can sue officials who have exceeded their authority in implementing family planning policy, but government officials have not provided statistics on or examples of successful suits on these grounds.

Regulations forbid sex-selective abortion, but because of the traditional preference for male children, particularly in rural areas, some families have used ultrasound to identify female fetuses. Use of ultrasound for this purpose is specifically prohibited by the new Maternal and Child Health Care Law, which calls for punishment of medical practitioners violating this provision. In September a court reportedly sentenced a retired Shanghai doctor to 4 years in prison for identifying the sex of fetuses. The press has reported that the national ratio of male to female births is 114 to 100, while the statistical norm is 106 male births to 100 female. This ratio may exclude many female births, especially the second or third in a family, which are unreported so that the parents can keep trying to conceive a boy, but also probably reflects the abuse of sonography and sex-selective abortion. Female infanticide or neglect of baby girls may also be a factor in some areas.

At least five provincial governments have implemented regulations seeking to prevent people with severe mental handicaps from having children. In June the National Maternal and Child Care Law came into effect. This law calls for premarital and prenatal examinations to determine whether couples have acute infectious diseases, certain mental illnesses (not including mental retardation), or are at risk for passing on debilitating genetic diseases. The Ministry of Health, not the State Family Planning Commission, is charged with implementing the new law, which mandates abortion or sterilization in some cases, based on medical advice. The new measure also provides for obtaining a second opinion and states that patients or their guardians must give written consent to procedures (see also Section 5).

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Although the Constitution states that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental rights enjoyed by all citizens, the Government interprets the Communist Party's "leading role" as circumscribing these rights. It does not permit citizens to publish or broadcast criticism of senior leaders or opinions that contradict basic Communist Party doctrine, which provides for a Socialist state under the party's leadership. For example, the formal charges brought in 1995 against dissident and prodemocracy activist Wei Jingsheng were based on Wei's public criticism of the Government after his September 1993 release from prison. These criticisms, together with critical articles published outside of China, led to Wei's conviction in December for "subverting the Government" (see Section 1.d.).

The Government and the party intensified control over the expression of unauthorized political views in 1995. In August police broke up a press conference held in a private hotel by former Chinese "comfort women" seeking compensation from the Japanese Government for World War II atrocities. Also in August public security personnel arrested 6 foreign Greenpeace demonstrators, detained them for 1 day, and expelled them from China for unfurling an antinuclear banner in Tiananmen Square; 10 foreign journalists present were also detained. Authorities also limited the amount and type of written information brought into China by participants in the NGO Forum associated with the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing September 5-15. In addition, Government intimidation and harassment of Conference and NGO Forum participants effectively limited the exercise of free expression during official proceedings (see Section 5). In September security personnel detained and questioned a U.S. citizen for 2 hours after she protested in Tiananmen Square against government abortion policies.

The party and the Government continue to control print and broadcast media and compel them to propagate the current ideological line. Both formal and informal press guidelines continued to require reporters to avoid coverage of sensitive subjects and to protect "state secrets." Under the State Security Law, "state secrets" are broadly defined, and interpretation is left to the Ministries of State Security and Public Security. In December the authorities refused to renew the visa of Beijing-based German journalist Henrik Bork, forcing him to leave China involuntarily. Chinese officials accused Bork of "negatively influencing German public opinion about China" in an article about Li Peng shortly before the Premier's 1994 visit to Germany.

Despite official admonitions, China's lively tabloid sector continued to expand in 1995. Radio talk shows remained popular, and, while generally avoiding politically sensitive subjects, they provided opportunities for citizens to air grievances about public issues. Despite licensing requirements, a small but rapidly growing segment of the population has access to satellite television broadcasts. The Government introduced commercial Internet service in many cities during the year but imposed restrictions on Internet access at year's end (see Section 1.f.).

Fierce competition and dwindling government subsidies have increased opportunities for private publishers and booksellers, but the Government tried in 1995 to tighten its control over the production and dissemination of publications. In June the China Press and Publications Administration announced it would limit the number of books published by controlling book registration numbers issued to officially approved publishing houses. Despite this effort, books continued to be published through unsanctioned channels.

Fear of government retaliation limited artistic freedom of expression. In January a Beijing publisher reportedly backed out of a contract to print a collection of poems by former political prisoner Huang Xiang after learning about the poet's background. In September a government "request" prompted director Zhang Yimou to cancel plans to attend the New York Film Festival showing of his film "Shanghai Triad." In a series of incidents between June and October, security personnel harassed and sometimes arrested artists living near Beijing University at Yuanmingyuan. The crackdown appeared to be the result of official irritation over the artists' antigovernment political views.

The Government has continued to impose heavy ideological controls on political discourse at colleges, universities, and research institutes. As a result, many intellectuals and scholars, fearing that books or papers on political topics would be deemed too sensitive to be published, feel compelled to exercise self-censorship. In areas such as economic policy or legal reform, there was far greater official tolerance for comment and debate.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

While the Constitution has provisions for freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the Government severely restricts these rights in practice. The Constitution provides, for example, that such activities may not infringe upon the "interests of the State." Protests against the political system or its leaders are prohibited.

The Government tolerates some small-scale demonstrations about nonpolitical grievances, but authorities deny permits and quickly move to suppress demonstrations involving expression of dissident political views. In May the authorities detained or imprisoned dozens of activists, including Chen Ziming, Wang Dan, and Liu Xiaobo, after they issued prodemocracy petitions. By the end of the month, 24 people were in detention, and another 20 had been questioned and released. However, unauthorized protests on nonpolitical subjects are not automatically disrupted. In March police allowed people protesting evictions from their homes to hold demonstrations for several days on a major Shanghai road. Local officials reportedly later met with protesters and acted on some of their grievances.

The Communist Party organizes and controls most professional and other mass associations. Regulations promulgated in 1990 require all organizations to be officially registered and approved. Ostensibly aimed at secret societies and criminal gangs, the regulations also deter the formation of unauthorized political or labor organizations. Not only have Shanghai authorities refused to allow several persons to register a proposed "Human Rights Association," but they have detained members of the group. Yang Zhou, a leader of the group, departed China in September (see Section 1.c.). Liu Nianchun, who was denied permission in 1994 to register the Association for Protection of Labor Rights, was among those arrested after issuance of prodemocracy petitions (see Section l.d.).

c. Freedom of Religion

The Government subjects religious freedom to restrictions of varying severity; nonetheless, the number of religious adherents continues to grow. While the Constitution affirms toleration of religious beliefs, government regulations restrict religious practice to government-controlled religious organizations and registered places of worship. The Government supervised the publication of about 1 million Bibles for distribution in 1994, but complaints that the amount of Christian religious materials fell far short of demand increased pressure on the Government to raise the number to 1.5 million in 1995. The State Council's Religious Affairs Bureau and the United Front Work Department, which are staffed by officials who rarely are religious adherents, provide "guidance and supervision" over implementation of government regulations on religion and the role of foreigners in religious activity. The Catholic seminary in Chengdu, closed since an April 1994 protest against party interference in school operations, has yet to reopen due to lack of funding and government support for efforts to relocate it to the outskirts of the city. Communist Party officials state that party membership and religious belief are incompatible. This places a serious limitation on religious believers, since party membership is required for almost all high positions in government and state-owned businesses. According to a 1995 government survey, 20 percent of Communist Party members engage in religious activities. In January the CCP circulated a document to party organizations at the provincial level ordering expulsion of party members belonging to open or clandestine religious organizations.

The Government's treatment of religious believers and organizations often varies widely depending on the locality. Unregistered or "house" church leaders and members are harassed in some regions but tolerated in others. Nonmainstream sects are often singled out. In February a Shanghai splinter group of the Henan-based Christian evangelical sect known as the "Shouters" was broken up and its members harassed. Twenty leaders of the "Anointed One" sect reportedly were detained. The Shouters sect has been deemed counterrevolutionary by the Government and its members detained, fined, and imprisoned since its establishment more than 15 years ago. In February and March, police raided and broke up a house church meeting in Huadu City in Guangzhou municipality. In the March raid, Huadu police reportedly beat worshipers. In March Henan police harassed and detained Protestant house church worshipers in Zhoukou City. In April and May, police arrested some 140 Christian evangelists based in Fangcheng County, Henan, who had been sent by their unofficial churches to various parts of the country to proselytize. According to reports, in mid-June Public Security Bureau officials in Yingshang county, Anhui, raided numerous Protestant house churches and arrested approximately 300 Christians for "illegal religious activities." Reportedly, electric batons were used during the raids.

After forcefully suppressing all religious observances and closing all seminaries during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the Government began in the late 1970's to restore or replace damaged or confiscated churches, temples, mosques, and monasteries and allowed seminaries to reopen. According to the Government, there are now 68,000 religious sites in China and 48 religious colleges. The Government also adopted a policy of returning confiscated church property. Implementation of this policy has varied from locality to locality. The official religious organizations administer more than a dozen Catholic and Protestant seminaries, nine institutes to train imams and Islamic scholars, and institutes to train Buddhist monks. Students who attend these institutes must demonstrate "political reliability," and all graduates must pass an examination on their theological and political knowledge to qualify for the clergy. The Government permitted some Catholic seminarians, Muslim clerics, and Buddhist clergy to go abroad for additional religious studies in 1995.

The authorities permit officially sanctioned religious organizations to maintain international contacts as long as these do not entail foreign control. In January 1994, China promulgated regulations on religious practices by foreigners and on places of religious activities. The regulations codified many existing rules, including a ban on proselytizing by foreigners, but allow foreign nationals to preach to foreigners, bring in religious materials for their own use, and preach to Chinese at churches, mosques, and temples at the invitation of registered religious organizations. In practice, authorities tolerate some discreet proselytizing and distribution of religious texts by foreigners outside official channels.

Before the Fourth World Conference on Women, government organizers instructed foreign participants not to bring in religious materials other than those for personal use. Leaders of Protestant house churches were warned to avoid contact with conference delegates arriving from foreign countries. One Catholic leader, Bishop Jia Zhiguo, was detained until the day after the conference.

Buddhists are the largest body of religious believers in China. The Government estimates that there are 100 million Chinese Buddhists, most of whom are from the dominant Han ethnic group. The Government says that there are 9,500 Buddhist temples and monasteries in China and 170,000 nuns and monks. In May Beijing hosted a three-nation conference which addressed cooperation between Chinese government-sanctioned Buddhist leaders and South Korean and Japanese Buddhist representatives. (A discussion of government restrictions on Tibetan Buddhism can be found in the addendum to this report.)

According to government figures, there are 17 million Muslims in China. In some areas with large Muslim populations, officials continue to restrict the building of mosques and the religious education of youths under the age of 18. Following unrest in 1990 in Xinjiang, which has a large Muslim population, the authorities issued regulations further restricting religious activities and teaching. Authorities in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, another province with a large Muslim population, issued regulations in July 1994 forbidding religious bodies from interfering in administrative affairs, including education, marriage, and family planning. China permits Muslim citizens to make the hajj to Mecca, and the number of those making the pilgrimage has significantly increased in recent years. About 6,000 Chinese made the hajj in 1994 at their own expense.

The number of Christians continues to grow rapidly. However, only those Christian churches affiliated with either the Catholic Patriotic Association or the (Protestant) Three Self Patriotic Movement may operate openly. The Government established both organizations in the 1950's to eliminate perceived foreign domination of local Christian groups.

Active unofficial religious movements pose an alternative to the state-regulated churches, although in some areas there is tacit cooperation between official and unofficial churches. The unofficial, Vatican-affiliated, Catholic Church claims a membership far larger than the 4 million registered with the official Catholic Church, although actual figures are unknown. Reliable estimates indicate that there are about 10 million people who belong to the official Protestant church, while perhaps twice that many worship privately in house churches that are independent of government control.

There continued to be credible reports in 1995 of efforts by authorities in some areas to rein in activities of the unapproved Catholic and Protestant movements, including raiding and closing a number of unregistered churches. In January 1994, new regulations tightening an existing requirement that all church groups register with the state-controlled Religious Affairs Bureau went into effect. These regulations have presented religious believers with the choice of registering and bringing their congregations under official control or continuing to operate underground and risking fines, arrests, and prison sentences. It was reported in 1995 that Vincent Qin Guoliang and Li Zhixin, two priests affiliated with the unofficial Catholic Church in Qinghai Province, were sentenced to 2 years in a labor camp in November 1994. In February police reportedly detained nine church workers after raiding one unofficial church in Huai'an, Jiangsu Province. According to press reports, a Jiangsu official warned in a church publication that Christian meeting places deemed controlled by hostile forces would be banned. Guangzhou preacher Li Dexian was detained four separate times and allegedly beaten by police after attempts to give his monthly sermons at a house church outside of Guangzhou. According to press reports in December, Beijing authorities sentenced underground Christian activists Xu Yonghai, Cao Feng, and Liu Fenggang to up to 2 and 1/2 years reeducation through labor. Elsewhere, authorities tolerate the existence of unofficial Catholic and Protestant churches as long as they remain small and discreet.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The effectiveness of the Government's identification card system used to control and restrict the location of individual residences within the country continued to erode in 1995. The "floating population" of economic migrants leaving their home areas to seek work elsewhere in China is estimated to be over 100 million. Because this itinerant population lacks official status, its access to housing, schooling, and the full range of employment opportunities is limited.

Authorities have denied some former inmates permission, under the "staying at prison employment" system, to return to their homes, a provision applicable to recidivists incarcerated in "reform through labor" camps. Those inmates sentenced to more than 5 years in reeducation through labor camps also may lose their legal right to return home. For those assigned to camps far from their residences, this constitutes a form of internal exile. The number of prisoners subject to this restriction is unknown. Authorities have reportedly forced others to accept jobs in state enterprises where they can be more closely supervised after their release from prison or detention.

Other released detainees returned home but were not permitted freedom of movement. The Government prevented Liu Gang from traveling within China and abroad after his release from prison in June when Jilin provincial authorities refused to accept his written travel application. Chen Ziming's movements were also restricted during the time he was released from prison on medical parole. Official concern about the June anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident prompted public security personnel to force Chen, his wife, and their nephew to remain at home on May 31 rather than participate in a family outing at a local park. Chen's medical parole was abruptly revoked in June.

The Government routinely permits legal emigration and most foreign travel. Although regulations promulgated in 1990 required college graduates to repay the cost of their free postsecondary education by working for 5 years before going abroad, students wishing to go abroad still routinely were able to obtain passports. Permission for couples to travel abroad was sometimes conditioned on agreement to delay childbirth; noncompliance triggered fines for the couple or their work unit. The Government continued to use political attitudes as a major criterion in selecting people for government-sponsored study abroad, but it did not similarly control privately sponsored students, who currently constitute the majority of students studying abroad. The Government continued efforts to attract persons who have studied overseas back to China. Official media have said that before returning home, people who have joined foreign organizations hostile to China should quit them and refrain from activities that violate Chinese law.

In January Human Rights Watch/Asia and Human Rights in China announced the existence of two blacklists of Chinese dissidents banned from returning to China because of their political beliefs. Persons reportedly on the list, over 80 percent of whom lived in the United States, included Yan Jiaqi, Su Xiaokang, Harry Wu, and many persons active in the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. Authorities continued to refuse to allow labor activist Han Dongfang to return to China, after revoking his passport in 1993, on the grounds that he had engaged in activities hostile to China while overseas.

The Government continued to accept the repatriation of citizens who had entered other countries or territories illegally. In 1995 in addition to the routine return of Chinese illegal immigrants found in Hong Kong, the Government continued accepting the return of several groups of illegal immigrants from other countries. Citizens illegally smuggled to other countries were often detained upon their return for a short time to determine identity and any past criminal record or involvement in smuggling activities. As a deterrent and to recover local costs incurred during the repatriation, the authorities in some areas levied a fine of $1,000 or more on returnees.

Since the late 1980's, China has adopted a de facto policy of tolerance toward the small number of persons--less than 100 annually--from other nations who have registered with the Beijing office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as asylum seekers. China has permitted these persons to stay in China while the UNHCR makes determinations as to their status and--if the UNHCR determines that they are bona fide refugees--while they await resettlement in third countries. Treatment of asylum seekers who present themselves initially to Chinese authorities is unknown. China has no law or regulations that authorize the authorities to grant refugee status, but the authorities continue to work with the UNHCR on such measures.

The Government provided local resettlement to almost 300,000 refugees, overwhelmingly ethnic Chinese, who left Indochina for China during the late 1970's and the 1980's. The authorities have accepted the return to China of would-be illegal emigrants to Hong Kong and Australia from among these refugees, provided China can verify their identity and willingness to return voluntarily. China has successfully worked with Laos and Cambodia to facilitate the return of resettled refugees who have decided to go back to their home countries, but it has been unable to obtain Vietnamese agreement to accept 6,000 persons who have sought to return to their homes in that country. Although the Government denies having tightened its policy on accepting Vietnamese refugees, in recent years very few such refugees have been resettled in China. China has not signed the Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated at the Geneva International Conference on Indochinese Refugees in 1989.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens lack the means to change their government legally and cannot freely choose or change the laws and officials that govern them. Citizens vote directly only for party-reviewed candidates for delegate positions in county-level people's congresses. People's congress delegates at the provincial level, however, are selected by county-level people's congresses, and in turn provincial-level people's congresses select delegates to the National People's Congress (NPC). Although the CCP approves the candidates, many county and provincial elections are competitive, with more candidates running than there are seats available. According to the 1982 Constitution, the NPC is the highest organ of state power. It elects the President and Vice President, selects the Premier, and elects the Chairman of the Government's Central Military Commission. Delegates attending the 1995 session of the NPC displayed an unusual degree of assertiveness when one-third voted against a candidate for Vice Premier, and slightly more voted against important government-proposed legislation. The NPC does not in practice, however, have the power to determine policy or remove government or party leaders.

The election and agenda of people's congresses at all levels remain under firm control by the Communist Party, the paramount source of political authority in China. The Constitution was amended in 1993 to ratify the existence of small "democratic" parties, but these play only a minor consultative role, and all pledge allegiance to the Communist Party. The Party retains a tight rein on political decisionmaking.

Direct election for basic level or village government is legally sanctioned for all of China's 1 million villages. Foreign observers estimate that more than one-third of China's 900 million rural residents have already participated in elections for local leaders. Although many villages have yet to hold truly competitive elections, central government officials appeared intent on further popularizing the competitive election process. Successful village elections have included campaigning, platforms, and the use of secret ballots. The Ministry of Civil Affairs, which administers the village election program, plans to set up an election training center in Beijing that will train local and provincial officials how to teach others the basic techniques of running democratic elections. There were credible reports that candidates most favored by the authorities were defeated in some local, village elections. In early 1995, a local Communist Party secretary in eastern China reportedly attempted to fire an elected Village Chief, but the Chief retained his position after suing and winning a judgment in local court. Elections have reportedly reduced corruption and brought better management to some villages. Political controls, however, remain tight, and village elections do not threaten implemention of unpopular central policies or endanger the "leading role" of the Communist Party.

The official requirement that associations register and be approved discourages independent interest groups from forming and affecting the system. Social organizations registered in recent years include groups promoting environmental protection, consumer rights, charitable work, and the rights of the disabled, but the Government monitors their activities to ensure that they remain apolitical. Dozens of activists who submitted prodemocracy petitions to government authorities in March and May were subsequently detained or arrested (see Section l.d.).

The Government places no restrictions on the participation of women or minority groups in the political process. The Government and party organizations include some 12.4 million women officials. In August the press reported that women constituted 21 percent of National People's Congress delegates and 12.3 percent of NPC standing committee members. Approximately 13.5 percent of members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference were women. Women, however, hold relatively few positions of significant influence within the party or government structure. There are no women, for example, in the 21-member Politburo.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

There are no independent Chinese organizations that publicly monitor or comment on human rights conditions in China. The Government has made it clear that it will not tolerate the existence of such groups. Shanghai officials have refused to register the Chinese Human Rights Association founded by Yang Zhou and other dissidents. Yang left China in September (see Section 1.c.). Other cofounders were detained, but it is not clear whether their detentions resulted solely from their involvement in the group. Wang Dan, a Tiananmen-era activist, announced in 1994 his intention to investigate China's human rights situation and subsequently was detained repeatedly for brief periods. In 1995 the authorities detained him in connection with prodemocracy petitions issued in May (see Section l.d.). He remained in detention at year's end.

Since 1991 the Government has promoted limited academic study and discussion of concepts of human rights. Research institutes in Shanghai and Beijing, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, have organized symposia on human rights, established human rights research centers, and visited other countries to study human rights practices in those nations. In 1993 the Government formed the China Society for Human Rights Studies as a "nongovernmental organization"; its efforts have focused largely on improving China's image abroad and responding to criticism of China's human rights record. In March the Society's director publicly criticized the 1994 U.S. State Department report on human rights practices in China and defended Chinese practices, glossing over fundamental human rights abuses that the Government continues to perpetrate. In December the State Council's Information Office issued a white paper entitled "The Progress of Human Rights in China" that restated Chinese views on human rights issues and defended China's human rights record in similiar terms.

The Government agreed in September to the platform for action adopted at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women but called into question its commitment to the platform and international human rights standards by its treatment of Conference and NGO Forum participants (see Section 5). The platform recognized the universality of human rights. Despite this public acknowledgment of universal human rights principles, Chinese officials accept only in theory the universality of human rights. They argue instead that a nation's political, economic, and social system and its unique historical, religious, and cultural background determine its concept of human rights.

The Government remains reluctant to accept criticism of China's human rights situation by other nations or international organizations and often criticized reports by international human rights monitoring groups. To deflect attempts to discuss its human rights record, the Government strongly opposed a resolution on China's human rights record at the 1995 session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNHRC). The Government introduced a motion to take no action on the resolution; this motion was rejected by the Commission. The resolution itself subsequently failed to pass by a single vote. Nevertheless, officials no longer dismiss all discussion of human rights as interference in China's internal affairs. Chinese authorities continued a limited dialog with foreign governments on human rights issues in talks with a number of visiting delegations from other countries and also during visits abroad by Chinese leaders. China's pique at some governments' support for the China resolution at the 1995 UNHRC session, however, resulted in the suspension of bilateral human rights dialogs for the remainder of 1995. During the first half of the year, the Government provided limited information to a private person who requested information about the status of certain persons believed to be imprisoned for their political or religious beliefs. In the second half of the year, the Government did not respond to similar requests.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

There are laws designed to protect women, children, the disabled, and minorities. In practice, however, societal discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, and disability has persisted. The concept of a largely homogeneous Chinese people pervades the thinking of the Han majority.

Women

Nationwide statistics on the extent of physical violence against women are not available, but the establishment of a Beijing women's hot line staffed by some 100 volunteers has focused attention on the problem. In April the Chairman of the China Academy of Management Science Institute of Women's Studies stated that domestic incidents have become both more violent and more frequent in recent years. In March 1994, the Beijing Society for Research on Marriage and the Family published a survey of 2,100 families showing that one-fifth of all wives had been abused by their spouses. A government study indicated 2 percent of urban households and 5 percent of rural ones had serious problems with domestic violence. Physical abuse can be grounds for prosecution.

The abduction of women is a serious and growing problem, especially in those areas where local officials have resisted efforts of the central authorities to stop it. The "demand" for marriageable women is created by individuals who seek to start families but cannot find local brides. Some families address the problem by recruiting women in economically less advanced areas, receiving, in effect, mail order brides. Others seek help from criminal gangs, which either kidnap women or trick them by promising them jobs and an easier way of life and then transport them far from their home areas for delivery to buyers. Once in their new "family" these women are "married" and raped. Some accept their fate and join the new community; others struggle and are punished. Henan is among the country's main "recipient" provinces of abducted women despite efforts of the province's Bureau of Public Security to control the problem.

The Government continued to condemn and to take steps to prevent and punish the abduction and sale of women for marriage or prostitution. The press reported in April that a Henan provincial court sentenced a 28-year-old man to 15 years in prison for buying, abducting, and raping a second-year Chinese literature student from an unidentified university in northwest China. In April the Anhui provincial procurator reported that 20 criminals were sentenced to death in 1994 for abducting and selling women and children. According to figures announced by the Ministry of Public Security in January 1994, there were over 15,000 cases of abduction and trafficking in women and children in 1993.

One report from Inner Mongolia blamed part of the problem of abduction and selling of women on a serious imbalance in sex ratios in one county, where there were 115 men for every 100 women. (The question of male/female birth ratios and traditional preferences for boys is discussed in Section 1.f.) Although the authorities have enacted laws and conducted educational campaigns to eradicate the traditional preference for sons, in many areas this preference remains strong, especially in rural China. A number of provinces have sought to reduce the perceived higher value of boys in providing old-age support for their parents by establishing or improving pensions and retirement homes.

The 1982 Constitution states that "women enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life," including ownership of property, inheritance rights, and access to education. In 1992 the NPC enacted legislation on the protection of the rights and interests of women which was designed to assist in curbing gender-based discrimination. Women have continued, however, to report discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair dismissal, demotion, and wage cuts.

Women are sometimes the unintended victims of reforms designed to streamline enterprises and give workers greater job mobility. The press reported that, according to a 1995 survey by the Women's Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Management Science, women constituted 70 percent of persons fired or likely to be fired as a result of restructuring of unprofitable state enterprises. Women under age 35 or over age 45 were the most affected, and the least likely to be retrained. In addition, female employees were more likely to be the ones chosen to take pay cuts when a plant or company was in financial trouble.

Many employers prefer to hire men to avoid the expense of maternity leave and child care, and some even lower the effective retirement age for women workers to 40 years of age. (The official retirement age for men is 60 years and for women 55 years.) Although the law promises equal pay for equal work, a 1990 survey found that women's salaries averaged 77 percent of men's. Official government responses to the State Department's 1994 report on human rights practices in China implicitly recognized that those statistics remain accurate. Most women employed in industry work in lower skilled and lower paid jobs.

While the gap in the education levels of men and women is narrowing, men continue to constitute the majority of the educated, particularly the highly educated. For example, a government white paper reported that in 1992, women made up 33.7 percent of college students and 24.8 percent of postgraduate students. From 1982 to 1993, only 4.9 percent of doctoral degrees were awarded to women.

In August and September, the Government hosted the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women and an associated NGO Forum. Many wishing to participate questioned the motives of the host government when authorities delayed issuing confirmations for hotel accommodations and failed to issue visas in a timely manner, forcing hundreds to cancel plans to attend. Observers said that the extent to which the Government exercised the sovereign right to limit visa issuance exceeded norms established at similar international meetings. The Government also abruptly changed the venue of the NGO Forum to Huairou, some 25 miles from Beijing. In addition to difficulties in traveling to and from Huairou, many participants felt that facilities at the new site were inadequate: hastily constructed and lacking appropriate basic amenities. Participants with disabilities attending the NGO Forum found the lack of physical access to many areas particularly difficult.

Woman's Conference and NGO Forum participants faced harassment and intimidation from security officials. Some participants reported being followed, videotaped, photographed, or jostled by security agents. Others reported searches of personal possessions; several reported the loss of personal items and papers. In addition, the Government permitted little of the copious international news media coverage of the Conference and the NGO Forum to reach a domestic audience. Foreign journalists were limited to covering the meetings, but were not permitted to pursue stories outside the conference and forum sites.

Children

The Constitution provides for 9 years of compulsory education for children. China's extensive health care delivery system has led to a sharp decline in national infant mortality rates and improved child health. According to the State Council's 1995 white paper on "Family Planning in China," China's infant mortality rate declined to 17.7 per 1,000 live births in 1994. There were credible reports of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide, but no reliable statistics were available to demonstrate the extent of the problem. The Chinese press has reported that the national ratio of male to female births is 114 to 100, while the statistical norm is 106 to 100 (see Section 1.f.).

Physical abuse of children can be grounds for criminal prosecution. The 1992 Law on the Protection of Juveniles forbids infanticide, as well as mistreatment or abandonment of children. This law also prohibits discrimination against disabled minors, emphasizes the importance of safety and morality, and codifies a variety of judicial protections for juvenile offenders. Despite government efforts to prevent the kidnaping and buying and selling of children, the problem persists in some rural areas. In March authorities in Guanxi Province reported that, as a result of 3 campaigns in the past 2 years against trading of children and women, police arrested 3,886 criminals, smashed 595 criminal gangs, and released 134 children and 2,861 women. In February Chongqing authorities tried and convicted a gang that abducted and sold 80 infants and 5 women, earning approximately $15,000; 5 of the 35 gang members received the death penalty.

According to a 1994 Beijing University demographics study, the number of children abandoned in China each year is approximately 1.7 million, despite the fact that under the law child abandonment is punishable by fines and a 5-year prison term. The vast majority of the approximately 100,000 children who are eventually admitted to Chinese orphanages every year are female or disabled. The treatment of children at orphanages varies from deplorable to adequate. There have been reports of children being restrained for long periods of time and being denied basic care and feeding. Differences among available statistics make accurate determination of infant mortality rates in orphanages difficult, but rates appear to be very high at many orphanages, especially among new arrivals. Human Rights Watch cites Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics for 1989-90 that put infant mortality in orphanages in 10 provinces at over 50 percent.

According to several sources, orphanage workers practice triage and reserve basic medical care and even nutrition for children who are deemed to have the best chances for survival. Some sources report that children whose prospects are determined to be poor are placed in rooms separate from other children and subjected to extreme neglect. Claims that government policies, as opposed to lack of resources, were to blame for the lack of care of children placed in orphanages could not be verified. A 1996 Human Rights Watch report, however, alleges that many orphanages, including those with the highest death rates, have budgets that provide for adequate wages, bonuses, and other personnel-related costs, but that budgets for children's food, clothing, and other necessities are extremely low in institutions throughout the country. The Government denies that orphans are mistreated or refused medical care, but acknowledges that the orphanage system is hard pressed to provide for those children who are admitted with serious medical problems.

People with Disabilities

In 1990 China adopted legislation protecting the rights of China's approximately 55 million disabled. However, as with many other aspects of Chinese society, reality for the disabled lags far behind the legal provisions. Misdiagnosis, inadequate medical care, pariah status, and abandonment remain common problems for the disabled population.

Statistics on education compiled in 1994 reveal the inequity of resources afforded the disabled: only 6 percent of disabled school children received primary education. The illiteracy rate among the disabled is 60 percent, and school attendance rates averaged only 20 percent for blind, deaf, or mentally retarded children. According to a September press report, the Government responded to the problem by budgeting $21.6 million to establish the nation's first university exclusively for disabled persons, in northern Shandong province. The school reportedly will offer courses in law, finance, computers, and other subjects.

In May 1994, Deng Pufang, son of retired senior leader Deng Xiaoping and head of the China Welfare Fund for the Handicapped, said that his organization hoped to assist the disabled by providing rehabilitation services to 3 million people, raising school enrollment rates for disabled people to 80 percent, and increasing their employment rate to 80 percent by the year 2000. The Government requires all state enterprises to hire a certain number of disabled workers, but authorities estimate 40 percent of disabled people are jobless.

Standards adopted in May 1994 for making roads and buildings accessible to the disabled are subject to the dictates of the 1990 Law on the Handicapped, which calls for their "gradual" implementation. Lax compliance to date has resulted in only limited access to most buildings. Facilities built for the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women and NGO Forum highlighted the problem. The authorities promised that all housing and meeting areas would be accessible to the disabled, but some of the 200 disabled persons who attended reported many facilities lacked ramps, elevators, and other modifications nesessary to facilitate access.

The new Maternal and Child Health Care Law became effective in mid-1995. It forbids the marriage of persons with certain specified contagious diseases or certain acute mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. If doctors find that a couple is at risk of transmitting disabling congenital defects to their children, the couple may marry only if they agree to use birth control or undergo sterilization. This law mandates premarital and prenatal examination for genetic or contagious diseases, but it specifies that medically advised abortion or sterilization requires the signed consent of the patients or their guardians.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The 55 designated ethnic minorities constitute about 8 percent of China's total population. Most minority groups reside in areas they have traditionally inhabited, many of which are mountainous or remote. China's minorities policy calls for preferential treatment in marriage policy, family planning, university admission, and employment. The Government has programs to provide low interest loans, subsidies, and special development funds for minority areas. While these government development policies have helped improve minority living standards in recent years, incomes in many minority areas remain well below the national average. Development programs have also disrupted traditional living patterns of minority groups, including Tibetans and the Muslim Uighur majority of Western Xinjiang.

In the area of education, the Government has tried to adopt policies responsive to minority concerns. In many areas with a significant population of minorities, there are two-track school systems using either standard Chinese or the local minority language. Students can choose which system to attend. One acknowledged side effect of this policy designed to protect and maintain minority cultures has been reinforcement of a segregated society. Under this separate education system, those graduating from minority schools are at a disadvantage in competing for jobs in government and business, which require good spoken Chinese. These graduates must take Chinese language instruction before attending universities and colleges (see also Tibet addendum).

The Communist Party has an avowed policy of boosting minority representation in the Government and the party. Many members of minorities occupy local leadership slots, and a few have positions at the national level. However, in most areas, ethnic minorities are effectively shut out of most positions of real political and decisionmaking power. Some minorities resent Han officials holding key positions in minority autonomous regions. Ethnic minorities in Tibet, Xinjiang, and elsewhere have at times demonstrated against Han Chinese authority. Central authorities have made it clear that they will not tolerate opposition to Communist Party rule in minority regions and have responded to unrest with force and heightened security measures.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The 1982 Constitution provides for "freedom of association," but qualifying language makes it clear that this right is subject to the interest of the State and the leadership of the Communist Party. The country's sole officially recognized workers' organization, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), is controlled by the Communist Party. Independent trade unions are illegal. Although ACFTU officials recognize that workers' interests may not always coincide with those of the Communist Party, the ACFTU's primary goals remain to improve labor discipline and mobilize workers to achieve party and government objectives. The 1993 revised Trade Union Law required that the establishment of unions at any level be submitted to a higher level trade union organization for approval. The ACFTU, the highest level organization, has not approved the establishment of independent unions. Attempts to form or register independent unions have been severely repressed. There are no provisions allowing for individual workers or unofficial worker organizations to affiliate with international bodies.

The ACFTU's primary attention remains focused on state sector workers. The Trade Union Law mandates that workers may decide whether to join the union in their enterprise. By official estimate, 8 percent of workers in collective and state-owned enterprises have chosen for their own reasons not to join. There have been no reports of repercussions for workers who have not joined ACFTU unions. Diversification of enterprise types over the last decade of reform has vastly increased the number of workers outside the traditional sphere of the ACFTU. Over half of China's nonagricultural work force is now largely unorganized and outside the state industrial structure, in collectives, township and village enterprises, private and individual enterprises, and foreign investment enterprises. In township and village enterprises, one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, only a tiny percentage of workers are organized in ACFTU affiliates. Workers in companies with foreign investors are provided with the right to form unions, which must affiliate with the ACFTU. As of September 1995, according to an ACFTU survey, 86 percent of foreign-invested enterprises had union branches. Anecdotal evidence, however, indicates union influence in such enterprises is weak.

Credible reports indicate the Government has attempted to stamp out illegal union activity. Since China joined the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1983, three complaints have been lodged against it with the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association. The most recent complaint (No. 1819) was lodged by the International Transport Federation in 1993 on behalf of three Chinese seamen who were arrested by security officials in the city of Tianjin because of their involvement in a wage dispute. The authorities have since released the three seamen, but the ILO is still awaiting an official reply from the Government of China to the complaint. In the other earlier two complaints, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions charged China with illegally arresting independent union organizers following its crackdown on Tiananmen Square demonstrators in June 1989.

In March 1994, a petition calling for workers to have "freedom from exploitation," the right to strike, and the right to organize nonofficial trade unions was circulated in Beijing. The authorities detained Zhou Guoqiang, Yuan Hongbing, and Wang Jiaqi after they presented the petition. Zhou is an associate of Han Dongfang, the leader of the Beijing Autonomous Workers' Federation. He was sentenced in September 1994 to 3 years' reeducation through labor, although the charges against him were reportedly not linked to the petition (see Section 2.d.). Accurate figures are not available on the number of Beijing Autonomous Workers' Federation detainees still being held for their participation in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

The right to strike, which had been included in China's 1975 and 1978 constitutions, was removed from the 1982 Constitution on the grounds that the Socialist political system had eradicated contradictions between the proletariat and enterprise owners. The Trade Union Law assigns unions the role of mediators or go-betweens with management in cases of work stoppages or slowdowns. Beginning in 1993, the Ministry of Labor stopped officially denying the existence of strikes. Strikes are still not officially sanctioned, and accurate statistics on strike incidents are not available. Work stoppages did occur, however, in several locations during 1995. In one case reported in August by the official press, 600 female workers at a South Korean clothing factory in Hebei Province initiated a work stoppage to protest excessive overtime hours. Documented instances of work stoppages also occurred in Special Economic Zones (SEZ's) in south China during 1995.

A dispute settlement procedure has been in effect since 1987. The procedure provides for mediation, two levels of arbitration committees, and a final appeal to the courts. According to official statistics based on National Mediation Center and Labor Bureau records, labor disputes increased by approximately 65 percent in 1994. This followed a 50 percent increase during 1993. Most cases are solved through arbitration and very few reach the courts. According to Labor Ministry officials, most arbitration cases are filed by contract workers or their employers. During the first 6 months of 1995, 12,956 labor disputes were brought before arbitration committees, a 66 percent increase over the same period in 1994.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The National Labor Law, which took effect on January 1, permits workers in all types of enterprises to bargain collectively. This law supersedes a 1988 law that allowed collective bargaining only by workers in private enterprises. The Labor Law provides for workers and employers at all types of enterprises to sign individual as well as collective contracts. Collective contracts are to be worked out between ACFTU or worker representatives and management and specify such matters as working conditions, wage distribution, and hours of work. Individual contracts are then to be drawn up in line with the terms of the collective contract. Collective contracts must be submitted to local government authorities for approval within 15 days.

To date, union and labor officials report the initiation of only a few experiments in collective bargaining. Official sources have explained that sufficient ideological and practical difficulties remain to preclude drawing clear distinctions between labor and capital in China's state-owned enterprise sector. According to the ACFTU, collective bargaining will first be implemented mostly in foreign investment enterprises where capital interests are clearly delineated.

The Ministry of Labor sets a total wage bill for each collective and state-owned enterprise according to four criteria: 1) as a percentage of profits, 2) as a contract amount with the local labor bureau, 3) for money losing enterprises, according to a state-set amount, or 4) as an enterprise-set amount subject to Labor Ministry review. Individual enterprises determine how to divide the total among workers, a decision usually made by the enterprise manager in consultation with the enterprise party chief and the ACFTU representative. Worker congresses have mandated authority to review plans for wage reform, although these bodies serve primarily as rubber-stamp organizations. Wages are generally equal for the same type of work within enterprises. Incentives are provided for increased productivity. Under the new Labor Law, wages may be set according to conditions set out in collective contracts negotiated between ACFTU representatives and management. However, in practice only the small number of workers with high technical skills can negotiate effectively on salary and fringe benefits.

Worker congresses, held periodically in most Chinese enterprises, theoretically have the authority to remove incompetent managers and approve major decisions affecting the enterprise, notably wage and bonus distribution systems. However, worker congresses generally take place only once a year and serve essentially to approve agreements worked out among factory managers, party secretaries, and ACFTU representatives. In smaller enterprises it is not unusual to find these three posts held by the same person. The Trade Union Law prohibits antiunion discrimination and specifies that union representatives may not be transferred or terminated by enterprise management during their term of office. Unionized foreign businesses generally report pragmatic relations with ACFTU representatives. As of September 1995, 42,327 foreign-invested enterprises had union branches--about 86 percent of all such enterprises nationally.

Laws governing working conditions in SEZ's are not significantly different from those in the rest of the country. However, wages in the SEZ's, and in southeastern China generally, are significantly higher than in other parts of the country because of high investment and profit levels. As in other areas of China, officials admit that some foreign investors in SEZ's are able to negotiate "sweetheart" deals with local partners which effectively bypass labor regulations.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Some penal facilities contract with regular industries for prisoners to perform light manufacturing and assembly work. In 1991 the Government published a reiteration of its regulations barring the export of prison-made goods. On August 7, 1992, the U.S. and Chinese Governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) prohibiting trade in prison labor products. A statement of cooperation (SOC) detailing specific working procedures for implementation of the MOU was agreed to and signed on March 14, 1994. Although the signing of the SOC initially helped to foster a more productive relationship with Chinese authorities, cooperation has stalled since mid-1995. As of the end of 1995, the authorities had not granted access to a prison labor facility since April 30. Repeated delays in arranging prison labor site visits called into question Chinese intentions regarding the implementation of the MOU and SOC. For example, authorities refused repeated requests (the first was made on May 30) to visit the Wuyi plant in Zhejiang Province, despite the terms of the SOC requiring a visit within 60 days of a request.

In addition to prisons and reform through labor facilities, which contain inmates sentenced through judicial procedures, China also maintains a network of reeducation through labor camps, where inmates are sentenced through nonjudicial procedures (see Section l.e.). Inmates of reeducation through labor facilities are generally required to work, but the authorities do not regard the facilities as prisons and have denied access to them under the 1992 prison labor MOU. Reports from international human rights organizations and the foreign press indicate that at least some persons in pretrial detention are also required to work.

Justice officials have stated that in reeducation through labor facilities there is a much heavier emphasis on education than on labor. Most reports conclude that work conditions in the penal system's light manufacturing factories are similar to those in ordinary factories, but conditions on farms and in mines can be harsh. As in many Chinese workplaces, safety is a low priority. There are no available figures for casualties in prison industry.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The 1995 National Labor Law specifies that "no employing unit shall be allowed to recruit juveniles under the age of 16." Administrative review, fines, and revocation of business licenses of those businesses that hire minors are specified in Article 94 of the Labor Law. The Constitution provides for children to receive 9 years of compulsory education and to receive their subsistence from parents or guardians. Laborers between the ages of 16 and 18 are referred to as "juvenile workers" and are prohibited from engaging in certain forms of physical work including labor in mines.

The Labor Law mandates the establishment of labor inspection corps at all administrative levels above county government. However, the rapid growth of China's nonstate sector has outpaced the evolution of government regulatory structures and resulted in inadequate labor inspection and enforcement regimes. In poorer, isolated areas, child labor in agriculture is widespread, given the few options available to minors who have completed their primary school education at approximately 13 years of age. China's vast reserve of surplus adult labor, however, minimizes the incentive to employ children. Most independent observers agree with Chinese officials that urban child labor is a relatively small problem in formal sectors of the economy. Rising dropout rates at secondary schools in some southern provinces and anecdotal reports suggest that children may increasingly be entering unregulated sectors of the economy. No specific industry is identifiable as a significant violator of child labor regulations.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Law codifies many of the general principles of China's labor reform, setting out provisions on employment, labor contracts, working hours, wages, skill development and training, social insurance, dispute resolution, legal responsibility, supervision, and inspection. There is no national minimum wage. Rather, the Labor Law allows local governments to determine their own standards on minimum wages. In general, minimum wage level determinations are higher than the local poverty relief ceiling but lower than the current wage level of the average worker.

Wages are in general paid and calculated monthly. The monthly minimum wage in Beijing is approximately $29 (rmb 240). In the SEZ of Zhuhai in south China the monthly minimum wage is approximately $46 (rmb 380). These wage levels are slightly greater than average living expenditures according to official statistics. Minimum wage figures do not include free or heavily subsidized benefits that employers may provide in kind, such as housing, medical care, and education. In poorer, rural areas monthly minimum wage levels are as low as $14 (rmb 120).

In May China reduced the national standard workweek from 44 hours to 40 hours excluding overtime. The Labor Law mandates a 24-hour rest period weekly and does not allow overtime work in excess of 3 hours a day or 36 hours a month. It also sets forth a required scale of remuneration for overtime work. Enforcement of regulations regarding overtime work varies according to region and type of enterprise. The press regularly reports cases of workers forced to work long overtime hours at small-scale foreign investment enterprises, particularly in southeast China and the SEZ's. Abuses at private enterprises are sometimes given coverage.

Occupational health and safety are constant themes of posters and campaigns. Every work unit must designate a health and safety officer, and the ILO has established a training program for these officials. Although the 1982 Constitution does not provide for the right to strike, the Trade Union Law explicitly recognizes the right of unions to "suggest that staff and workers withdraw from sites of danger" and participate in accident investigations. It is unclear, however, to what extent workers can actually remove themselves from such dangerous situations without risking loss of employment.

Nonetheless, pressures for increased output, lack of financial resources to maintain equipment, lack of concern by management, and a traditionally poor understanding of safety issues by workers have contributed to a continuing high rate of accidents. Official statistics indicate that 20,263 workers were killed in industrial accidents during 1994, up from 14,288 in 1993. Deaths from industrial accidents during the first 5 months of 1995 stood at 6,656. One credible report indicates that there are over 10,000 miners killed yearly. Fires, mostly in entertainment establishments and factories, killed 2,000 people in 1994, according to official statistics. Poor enforcement by local officials of occupational safety and health regulations puts the lives of workers at risk. Over 30 million Chinese work in toxic environments. Less than half of rural enterprises meet national dust and poison standards. In addition, many factories using harmful products, such as asbestos, fail not only to protect their workers against the ill effects of such products, but also fail to inform them about the potential hazards. Although work safety issues have attracted the attention of senior government leaders, supervision of both local and foreign small-scale private enterprises, where most accidents occur, remains poor.

TIBET

(This section of the report on China has been prepared pursuant to section 536 (b) of Public Law 103-236. The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region--hereinafter referred to as "Tibet"--to be part of the People's Republic of China. Preservation and development of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and protection of its people's fundamental human rights continue to be of concern.)

Respect for the Integrity of the Person

Because the Chinese Government strictly controls access to and information about Tibet, the scope of human rights abuses can not be precisely determined. However, according to credible reports, during 1995 Chinese government authorities continued to commit widespread human rights abuses in Tibet, including instances of torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, long detention of Tibetan nationalists for peacefully expressing their political views, and intensified controls on freedom of speech and the press, particularly for ethnic Tibetans. There were credible reports that Chinese authorities also detained foreigners visiting Tibet, searched them, and confiscated materials deemed politically sensitive.

There have been credible reports that some female detainees in Tibet have been tortured and, in some cases, raped. In addition, the representative of the UNHCR in Kathmandu has reported that Tibetans who sought asylum in Nepal and were forcibly repatriated to Tibet were tortured by Chinese police upon their return. Refugees reported to UNHCR officials that they were imprisoned, beaten, and interrogated three times a day. Electric cattle prods were used during interrogations of adults, but not of minors. The UNHCR concluded, based on the consistency of reports received, that torture was not a random occurrence by one or two police officers, rather it was the result of instructions given to border police.

The acting Chief Procurator for Tibet reported in June that in 1994 some 164 people (including 137 lamas and nuns) were arrested in 44 counterrevolutionary cases involving separatist elements. International human rights organizations reported that a 24-year-old Tibetan nun, Gyaltsen Kelsang, died on February 20 at her home on the outskirts of Lhasa. She was reportedly imprisoned for political reasons in 1993, beaten after imprisonment, and fell ill while performing hard labor. The authorities reportedly released her from prison on medical grounds when she was near death.

The authorities permit most traditional religious practices. Those seen as a vehicle for political dissent, however, are not tolerated and are promptly and forcibly suppressed. The authorities continue to detain and prosecute monks and nuns who have expressed dissenting political views in public. There are reports of politically active Tibetan monks and nuns under the age of 16 being detained in a work camp in Dui Tesam Zonkhang, west of Lhasa. Minors are allegedly being held there until they reach the age of 16 and can be formally charged. Legal safeguards for ethnic Tibetans detained or imprisoned mirror those in the rest of China and are inadequate in design and implementation. Lack of independent outside access to prisoners or prisons makes it difficult to assess the extent and severity of abuses and the number of Tibetan prisoners.

According to human rights organizations, small-scale protests occurred in Lhasa, Shigatse, Penpo Lhundrup County, Medro Gongkar County, and elsewhere during 1995, resulting in swift detention for participants. As in past years, many arrests coincided with proindependence demonstrations marking the anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising on March 10, 1959.

Human rights organizations reported that arrests during the first 3 months of 1995 exceeded the total number in 1994.

Freedom of Religion

The Government does not tolerate religious manifestations that advocate Tibetan independence. The Government condemns the Dalai Lama's political activities and his leadership of a "government in exile."

Tibetan Buddhism and proindependence activism are closely associated in ethnic Tibetan areas of China, and relations between Buddhists and secular authorities remained tense. In mid-May the Dalai Lama announced that a search committee had identified the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's second most important leader. The Government regarded the announcement as a direct challenge to its rule over Tibet. Chinese authorities subsequently detained the abbot who led the search committee as well as approximately 40 monks who were engaged in the selection process. In November Chinese officials publicly rejected the boy identified by the Dalai Lama; the boy's current whereabouts and status are unknown. On December 8, the Government enthroned a different child as the new Panchen Lama at a ceremony overseen by Chinese State Councilor Li Tieying. Official Chinese announcements explicitly identified the Dalai Lama as an "enemy of China," and dismissed him as irrelevant to the proceeding. According to reports, 27 people were arrested between November 27 and December 11 in connection with protests about the selection of the Panchen Lama.

The Government strictly enforces limits on the number of monks in major monasteries, and in March acknowledged publicly for the first time that these limits exist. Since April authorities have halved the number of monks officially permitted at the Jokhang temple in central Lhasa. In addition, the Government has moved to curb the proliferation of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, which are seen as a drain on local resources and a conduit for political infiltration by the Tibetan exile community. To bolster loyalty to the party, the Government stepped up efforts to ensure that party cadres in Tibet, over 70 percent of whom are ethnic Tibetans, adhere to the party's code of atheism. The Government defended its authority to confirm the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The Government continues to oversee the daily operations of monasteries. Although the Government generally only contributes a small percentage of the monasteries' operational funds, it retains management control of the monasteries through the government-controlled democratic management committees and the local religious affairs bureaus.

At the same time, however, worship in Tibet remains relatively free, as long as it is devoid of political content. The Government continued to restore sacred Buddhist sites, many of which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. In 1994 government religious authorities forbade party and government officials from displaying the Dalai Lama's photograph, including in their homes and removed his photos from sale in bazaar shops. However, the authorities still permit open veneration in monasteries of the Dalai Lama as a religious figure, even as the argument over the Panchen Lama continues. Despite government attempts to curb their proliferation, the monasteries continued to house and train young monks, making possible the transmission of Tibetan Buddhist traditions to future generations. In 1994 the autonomous regional government in Tibet ordered Tibetan officials who have children studying in India to bring them back to Tibet, but the actual number of students who may have returned as a result of this order is unknown.

Economic Development and Protection of Cultural Heritage

Like China's 54 other minority ethnic groups, Tibetans receive preferential treatment in marriage policy, family planning, university admission, and employment. However, in practice discrimination against Tibetans is widespread, especially in the area of employment. Chinese government development policies have helped raise the living standards of ethnic Tibetans, but have also disrupted traditional living patterns. The Government sought to respond to Tibetan concerns about the preservation of the Tibetan language. In Tibet primary schools at the village level teach in Tibetan. Many pupils, however, end their formal education after graduating from these schools, which usually have only two or three grades. Those who go on to regional primary schools and beyond, particularly after junior high school, continue to receive much of their education in Mandarin Chinese, although some areas provide instruction in Tibetan through junior high school. Efforts to expand Tibetan language instruction are hampered by lack of materials and competent teachers at higher levels.

The Dalai Lama continued in 1995 to express concern that development projects and other central government policies encourage a massive influx of Han Chinese into Tibet, which has the effect of overwhelming Tibet's traditional culture and diluting Tibetan demographic dominance. In recent years, freer movement of people throughout China, government-sponsored development, and the prospect of economic opportunity in Tibet have led to a substantial increase in the non-Tibetan population (including China's Muslim Hui minority as well as Han Chinese) in Lhasa and other urban areas. Most of these migrants profess to be temporary residents, but small businesses run by ethnic Han and Hui peoples (mostly restaurants and retail shops) are becoming more numerous in or near some Tibetan towns and cities. Roughly one-third of the population of Lhasa is Han Chinese. Chinese officials assert that 95 percent of Tibet's officially registered population is Tibetan, with Han and other ethnic groups making up the remainder. Plans for investing 2.3 billion yuan about $350 million (2.3 billion yen) in economic development announced during a July 1994 work conference on Tibet raise the prospect of the transfer to, or temporary duty in, Tibet of a substantially greater number of non-Tibetan technical personnel in the years ahead. These plans may also increase the number of immigrants from China's large transient population seeking to take advantage of new economic opportunities.

Economic development, fueled by central government subsidies, is modernizing Tibetan society and changing traditional Tibetan ways of life. While the Chinese Government has made efforts in recent years to restore some of the physical structures and other aspects of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture damaged or destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, repressive social and political controls continue to limit the individual freedoms of ethnic Tibetans.

 

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