Clinton State Dept. Stalls on Releasing Human Rights Report on China

By Pete Winn | May 1, 2012 | 7:09 PM EDT

Chinese guards patrol around the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

( - Just as the fate of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng is in limbo, so too, is the fate of the State Department's Human Rights Report on China -- now more than two months overdue.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is required by law to send to Congress by Feb. 25 each year reports on the human rights conditions in all countries that are members of the United Nations or receive U.S. aid. The State Department has not indicated when Clinton will release the legally mandated reports--including the report on the People's Republic of China.

Ironically, Chen was prominently mentioned in the last human rights report on China that is available -- the 2010 report -- which was released by the State Department in 2011, and covers activities in the year 2009.

“On September 9 (2009), blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng was released after completing a prison sentence of three years and four months on politically motivated charges of ‘disrupting traffic,’” the report noted.

Chen is a prominent dissident, known for protesting his country’s one-child-per-couple population control policy that is often enforced through coercive abortion and sterilization--and is one of many areas where China routinely violated human rights, according to the 2010 Human Rights Country Report.

“National law prohibits the use of physical coercion to compel persons to submit to abortion or sterilization,” the State Department report said. “However, intense pressure to meet birth limitation targets set by government regulations resulted in instances of local family-planning officials using physical coercion to meet government goals. Such practices included the mandatory use of birth control and the abortion of unauthorized pregnancies. In the case of families that already had two children, one parent was often pressured to undergo sterilization.”

The report cites numerous examples where parents were coerced into sterilization or aborting their children:

-- “A U.S.-based human rights organization reported that in August, the one-month-old daughter of a mother in Changfeng County, Anhui Province, was detained by local family-planning officials until the woman signed a document consenting to a sterilization procedure.”

-- “In April, as reported by a regional investigative newspaper affiliated with the newspaper Southern Daily and later in the international press, local family-planning officials in Puning, Guangdong Province, initiated an ‘education campaign’ to encourage nearly 9,559 ‘most serious violators of family-planning policies’ to undergo sterilization procedures. Reportedly, 1,300 persons were detained during this process, including family members of couples who had unauthorized births, until at least one member of the couple in violation submitted to a sterilization procedure.”

--“Regulations requiring women who violate family-planning policy to terminate their pregnancies still exist in the 25th, 42nd, and 22nd provisions of the Population and Family Control Regulation of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces, respectively. An additional 10 provinces require unspecified “remedial measures” to deal with unauthorized pregnancies."

-- “In late-April, officials in Pingxiang, Jiangxi Province, levied a RMB 2,000 ($300) fine and threatened to demolish the home of the parents of a migrant worker who failed to submit his family-planning paperwork.”

Widespread Human Rights Violations Noted

Forced sterilizations were not the only human rights violations committed by the Chinese Communist government. According to State Department report violations were widespread and routine.

An estimated 1.5 million Chinese were detained or imprisoned in 2009, including “(h)uman rights activists, journalists, unregistered religious leaders, and former political prisoners and their family members were among those targeted for arbitrary detention or arrest,” according to the State Department.

-- “On July 7, authorities released underground Catholic bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, Hebei Province, who had been detained since March 2009. The whereabouts of underground Catholic priests Zhang Li and Zhang Jianlin, from Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, whom authorities detained in 2008, remained unknown."

The State Department noted that, “In an October 2009 report, the NGO Human Rights Watch documented the disappearances of hundreds of Uighur men and boys following the July 2009 protests in Urumqi.”

The U.S. government also reported on the fact that there were widespread reports of thousands of activists and others who were committed to mental health facilities and involuntarily subjected to psychiatric treatment for political reasons.

--“ According to China News Weekly, the MPS [Ministry of Public Security] directly administers 22 high-security psychiatric hospitals for the criminally insane (also known as ankang facilities). From 1998 to May 2010, more than 40,000 persons were committed to ankang hospitals. In May an MPS official stated in a media interview that detention in ankang facilities was not appropriate for patients who did not demonstrate criminal behavior."

“However, political activists, underground religious believers, persons who repeatedly petitioned the government, members of the banned Chinese Democracy Party (CDP), and Falun Gong adherents were among those housed with mentally ill patients in these institutions."

Though new laws were implemented to crack down on the murder and abuse of detainees, the report noted that “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment(s)” were utilized.

“(D)uring the year there were reports that officials used electric shocks, beatings, shackles, and other forms of abuse,” the report noted.

For instance, the report noted, one Shanghai-based activist -- Shen Pailan -- was tortured and beaten while in detention between March 24 and April 9 of 2009.

Meanwhile, conditions in administrative detention facilities, prisons and RTL (re-education through labor) camps, rose to the level of human rights violations.

“Beating deaths occurred in administrative detention and RTL facilities. According to NGO reports, conditions in these facilities were similar to those in prisons, with detainees reporting beatings, sexual assaults, lack of proper food, and no access to medical care,” the report said.

Chinese authorities also routinely monitored and disrupted “telephone conversations, fax transmissions, e-mail, text messaging and Internet communications,” according to the State Department.

“Authorities also opened and censored domestic and international mail. Security services routinely monitored and entered residences and offices to gain access to computers, telephones, and fax machines,” the report noted.

In July 2009, three bloggers were charged with "false allegations with intent to harm" for reporting that a young woman was raped and killed by a group of men that included local officials.

“In April a court in Fuqing, Fuzhou Province, sentenced them to imprisonment on charges of defamation and leaking state secrets,” the report stated.