China releases 'Human rights report' on U.S.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

In response to the United States Department of State issuing its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, China has issued a contradictory report highlighting human rights abuses in the US, The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004.

For the past six years, the People's Republic of China has issued an annual statement on human rights in the US in response to the annual report on China. "Only the Chinese people themselves have the right to comment on the human rights situation in their own country," said Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The US State Department, beginning in 1977, issues annual country reviews of its perceptions of the rights records of individual nations, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The current report for 2004, released on February 28, 2005, contains candid assessments and detailed criticism of the human rights records of 192 countries, including China. Amnesty International, the international 'watch-dog organization' for human rights, has however criticized this paper as being biased, because it is made by a government which itself is violating human rights on many sectors.

The Chinese response, was released on March 3, 2005. In this report, the Chinese government attempts to deflect criticism of itself by drawing attention to the various publicly documented shortcomings within US society, including statistics on crime, violent death, imprisonment, poverty, rape, child abuse, and racial and sexual discrimination that are an acknowledged and publicly documented part of life in the US.

Amnesty International's 2004 annual report on US human rights in 2003 agrees with many of these claims.

Amnesty is also worried about: severe violations committed by the United States' army outside the countries' borders; the situation of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay; United States' general misbehaviour against international peace; ill-treatment of US immigrants; ill-treatment and excessive use of force by the US law enforcement officials; the US citizens losing civil rights and liberties after the 9/11 attacks; and continued use of death penalty by the state, which is in direct breach with the 3rd article of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the right to life).

Comment by Peter Edidin of The New York Times, characterized the Chinese report as "a frank indictment [that] draws a picture of America that approaches caricature. But that doesn't mean it won't buttress the negative image of the United States held by its critics around the world."

This ongoing dispute does not capture the entire relationship of US and China on civil rights. Even as both sides trade accusations, the US on March 18, 2005, declined to table a resolution at the UN criticizing China, citing the ongoing improvements that are being made in that country. This is the second time in three years that the US has not submitted such a resolution, which in fact has never passed the UN when it was submitted before.