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Diplomacy in Action

2013 Human Rights Report: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
February 27, 2014

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARYShare    

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount authority. CCP members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its seven-member Standing Committee. China completed its once-in-a-decade leadership transition in March, and Xi Jinping holds the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary, state president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Civilian authorities generally maintained control of the military and internal security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses.

Repression and coercion, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public interest issues, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive cases, were routine. Increasingly officials employed harassment, intimidation, and prosecution of family members and associates to retaliate against rights advocates and defenders. Individuals and groups seen as politically sensitive by authorities continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel. Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent public expression of independent opinions. Authorities implemented new measures to control and censor the internet and particularly targeted bloggers with large numbers of followers, leading some to close their online accounts. Public-interest law firms continued to face harassment, disbarment of legal staff, and closure. There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. These minorities also faced harsh restrictions on movement. Abuses peaked around high-profile events, such as the visit of foreign officials, national meetings, and commemorations.

As in previous years, citizens did not have the right to change their government, and citizens had limited forms of redress against official abuse. Other human rights problems during the year included extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process; enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention, including prolonged illegal detentions at unofficial holding facilities known as “black jails”; torture and coerced confessions of prisoners; detention and harassment of lawyers, journalists, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others who sought to exercise peacefully their rights under the law; a lack of due process in judicial proceedings; political control of courts and judges; closed trials; the use of administrative detention; restrictions on freedom to assemble, practice religion, and travel; failure to protect refugees and asylum seekers; pressure on other countries to return PRC citizens forcibly; widespread corruption; intense scrutiny of and restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination against women, minorities, and persons with disabilities; a coercive birth-limitation policy that in some cases resulted in forced abortion (sometimes at advanced stages of pregnancy) or forced sterilization; trafficking in persons; prohibitions on independent unions; lack of protection for workers’ right to strike; forced and child labor; and poor enforcement of wage, overtime, and occupational safety and health laws.

Although authorities prosecuted a number of abuses of power, particularly with regard to corruption, in many cases the internal disciplinary procedures of the CCP were opaque and only selectively applied to senior officials. Citizens who promoted efforts to combat corruption were themselves detained and arrested. For example, throughout the year, NGO sources reported that authorities arrested at least 29 persons associated with the New Citizens Movement on charges stemming from activities to promote good governance.

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

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

During the year security forces reportedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. In many instances few or no details were available.

It was not clear to what extent impunity was a problem. Following cases of killings by police, there often was an announcement that an investigation was to be conducted, but it was not clear whether there were any findings of police malfeasance or any cases in which police were disciplined.

For example, on October 24, plainclothes police arrested Shanghai petitioner Shen Yong for trespassing and, according to media reports, beat him. Hours later police returned Shen to his family, and he died shortly thereafter. Shen’s family maintained he died as a result of the police beating. Police asserted he suddenly fell ill in their custody. Local media reported that the death was under investigation but by year’s end provided no further information. Authorities detained more than 100 petitioners at a protest following Shen’s death.

A number of violent incidents in the XUAR resulted in multiple deaths. Official accounts of these events generally blamed “terrorists,” “separatists,” and “religious extremists” for what were portrayed as violent terrorist attacks on community members and security personnel. Human rights organizations, on the other hand, asserted that security forces often shot at groups of Uighurs in their homes or during worship. The government’s control of information coming out of the XUAR, together with its increasingly tight security posture there, made it difficult to verify the conflicting reports. (See also the Tibet annex for violent incidents in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.)

For example on April 24, at least 21 persons were killed in a clash in Barchuk County, XUAR: nine bystanders, six police, and six Uighurs (described in the official press as “thugs”). According to the official account, gunfights broke out when police entered persons’ homes to search for “illegal knives.”

In April, Yu Qiyi, a chief engineer at a state-owned enterprise in Wenzhou, died after being interrogated for corruption. Authorities arrested six CCP investigators and convicted them of intentional assault (see section 1.d.).

Defendants in criminal proceedings were executed following convictions that lacked due process and adequate channels for appeal.

b. Disappearance

In September authorities detained Cao Shunli at Beijing Airport as she was attempting to travel to Geneva to attend a training session in advance of China’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council. Five weeks after her disappearance, authorities at the Chaoyang District Detention Center confirmed that Cao had been criminally detained on charges of unlawful assembly. According to various media reports, her family did not received a detention notice in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law.

At year’s end the government had not provided a comprehensive, credible accounting of all those killed, missing, or detained in connection with the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. It is estimated that fewer than a dozen remained in prison, although some accounts suggest the number may be higher. Many activists who were involved in the demonstrations continued to suffer from official harassment.

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

The law prohibits the physical abuse of detainees and forbids prison guards from extracting confessions by torture, insulting prisoners’ dignity, and beating or encouraging others to beat prisoners. Amendments to the criminal procedure law that exclude evidence, including confessions, obtained through illegal means, including under torture in certain categories of criminal cases, took effect on January 1.

Numerous former prisoners and detainees reported that they were beaten, subjected to electric shock, forced to sit on stools for hours on end, deprived of sleep, and otherwise subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Although ordinary prisoners were subjects of abuse, prison authorities singled out political and religious dissidents for particularly harsh treatment. In some instances close relatives of dissidents also were singled out for abuse.

Human Rights Watch reported that police beat and tortured suspected prostitutes.

According to news reports Xiao Yong, a Guangzhou-based activist detained by police in April 2012 and remanded to two years of re-education through labor (RTL) in Shaoyang, Hunan Province, was released in February and allowed to return to his home. Authorities charged him with illegal assembly for staging a demonstration calling on officials to disclose publicly their financial assets. During his initial detention authorities reportedly prevented Xiao from sleeping for up to five days, causing multiple medical complications.

On May 18, police arrested a group of Fujian activists. Police held petitioner Lin Yingqiang for 33 hours, deprived him of food, and chained him to a “tiger seat,” a device meant to prevent the prisoner from sleeping during his detention.

In May authorities in Sichuan Province detained and beat lawyers Tang Jitian and Jiang Tianyong as they attempted to visit a black jail in Ziyang that reportedly holds followers of the banned Falun Gong movement.

On June 8, the Dongcheng District People’s Court tried Peng Lanlan in closed proceedings. The court’s decision was not available at year’s end. Beijing police arrested Peng in August 2012, charged him with obstructing official business, and tortured him by binding him to a tiger seat.

There were widespread reports of activists and petitioners being committed to mental-health facilities and involuntarily subjected to psychiatric treatment for political reasons. According to Legal Daily (a state-owned newspaper covering legal affairs), the Ministry of Public Security directly administered 24 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 2010 an official of the Ministry of Public Security stated that detention in ankang facilities was not appropriate for patients who did not demonstrate criminal behavior. Nonetheless, political activists, underground religious adherents, persons who repeatedly petitioned the government, members of the banned Chinese Democracy Party (CDP), and Falun Gong practitioners were among those housed in these institutions.

In October 2012 the government passed legislation banning involuntary mental health examinations and inpatient treatment except in cases in which patients expressed an intent to harm themselves or others. Critics maintained, however, that the law still does not provide meaningful legal protections for persons sent to psychiatric facilities. The March 2012 amendments to the criminal procedure law require a procuratorate (the agency responsible for both prosecution and investigation) review and a court decision for the psychiatric commitment of persons who have committed serious offenses but are exempt from criminal responsibility under the law. The amendments went into effect in April and include a provision for appealing compulsory medical treatment decisions.

On April 7, a new mainland China magazine Lens carried an article reporting abuses including torture with electric batons, forced feeding, and prolonged solitary confinement at the Masanjia Detention Center in Liaoning Province.

Advocacy groups continued to report organ harvesting from prisoners. Former vice health minister Huang Jiefu, who in March 2012 reportedly pledged to abolish taking organs for transplant from executed prisoners within three to five years, stated that organs from executed prisoners accounted for 64 percent of transplants in 2012 and for 54 percent in mid-2013.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Conditions in penal institutions for both political prisoners and criminal offenders were generally harsh and often degrading.

Forced labor remained a serious problem in penal institutions (see section 7.b.) as well as in RTL facilities. On December 28, the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee passed legislation that formally abolished the RTL system. State media announced that all inmates would be released beginning December 30 and clarified that all pre-abolition penalties would be considered legitimate. On December 17, Amnesty International reported that authorities relabeled many RTL camps as “drug rehabilitation centers” and “legal education centers.”

Physical Conditions: Prisoners and detainees were regularly held in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation. Food often was inadequate and of poor quality, and many detainees relied on supplemental food, medicines, and warm clothing provided by relatives. Prisoners often reported sleeping on the floor because there were no beds or bedding. Adequate, timely medical care for prisoners remained a serious problem, despite official assurances that prisoners have the right to prompt medical treatment.

Information on the prison population was not made public. In an April 2012 report to the NPC Standing Committee, the minister of justice stated that the country had 681 prisons with 1.64 million inmates. The International Center for Prison Studies (ICPS) reported that in 2009, in addition to sentenced prisoners, 650,000 persons were held in detention centers, and it estimated there were between 100,000 and 260,000 pretrial detainees. The ICPS reported that in mid-2010 female prisoners made up approximately 5.1 percent of the prison population, and in 2005 juveniles made up 1.4 percent. The law requires juveniles be held separately from adults, unless facilities are insufficient, but children were sometimes held with adult prisoners and required to work. Political prisoners were held with the general prison population and reported being beaten by other prisoners at the instigation of guards. Some dissidents were not allowed to receive supplemental food, medicine, and warm clothing from relatives.

The law mandates that a prison shall be ventilated, allow for natural light, and be clean and warm. The law further provides that a prison “shall set up medical, living, and sanitary facilities and institute regulations on the life and sanitation of prisoners.” It also states that the medical and health care of prisoners shall be put into the public health and epidemic prevention program of the area in which the prison is located. In many cases provisions for sanitation, ventilation, heating, lighting, basic and emergency medical care, and access to potable water were inadequate.

Conditions in administrative detention facilities, such as RTL camps, were similar to those in prisons. Beating deaths occurred in administrative detention and RTL facilities. Detainees reported beatings, sexual assaults, lack of proper food, and limited or no access to medical care.

Administration: It was unclear whether recordkeeping on prisoners was adequate. Authorities employed alternatives to incarceration for both violent and nonviolent offenders. According to Vice Minister of Justice Zhao Dacheng, more than one million convicts served their sentences in community corrections programs since 2003. There were no prison ombudsmen per se, but prisoners and detainees are legally entitled to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and request investigation of credible allegations of inhuman conditions. The law states that letters from a prisoner to higher authorities of the prison or to the judicial organs shall be free from examination, but it was unclear to what extent the law was implemented. While authorities occasionally investigated credible allegations of inhuman conditions, the results were not documented in a publicly accessible manner. Many prisoners and detainees did not have reasonable access to visitors and could not engage in religious practices. Under Article 52 of the prison law, “considerations shall be given to the special habits and customs of prisoners of minority ethnic groups.” Article 23 of the Detention Center Regulation has similar requirements. Little information was available about the implementation of these regulations.

The law requires the government to investigate and monitor prison and detention center conditions, and an official from the Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for investigating and monitoring prison and detention center conditions.

Independent Monitoring: Information about prisons, including associated labor camps and factories, was considered a state secret, and the government did not permit independent monitoring of prisons or RTL camps. Prisoners remained inaccessible to local and international human rights organizations and media groups. Authorities did not allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to have access to prisoners or perform prison visits in the country.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

Arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems. The law grants police broad administrative detention powers and the ability to detain individuals for extended periods without formal arrest or criminal charges. Throughout the year human rights activists, journalists, unregistered religious leaders, and former political prisoners and their family members continued to be among those targeted for arbitrary detention or arrest.

In January the official media reported that authorities in Heilongjiang Province confined petitioner Chen Qingxia to a deserted mortuary for three years. Chen previously served 18-months’ in RTL, was allegedly paralyzed by repeated beatings, and separated from her then 12-year-old son by local authorities. After the media report the local government reportedly found a house for Chen and pledged to help her look for her son.

From June 3 to 25, in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, plainclothes police reportedly detained prodemocracy activist Jiang Lijun on suspicion of inciting subversion of state authority and disturbing the social order. Jiang previously served a four-year sentence for “inciting subversion of the state power.”

In July, Guangdong activist Wu Bin, also known as Xiucai Jianghu, was detained for allegedly “sabotaging electric power equipment.” Wu previously filed a lawsuit against Shenzhen’s Futian District Public Security Bureau (PSB) for illegally detaining him. He was released on bail in early August, rearrested in Zhejiang Province on September 12, and given 10 days’ administrative detention for “spreading rumors.”

Many activists were subjected to extralegal house arrest, denied travel rights, or administratively detained. Shanghai dissidents Feng Zhenghu and Zheng Enchong were under unofficial house arrest at their apartments in Shanghai. Both were allowed to move around Shanghai on occasion but were kept under constant surveillance. Outsiders were often prevented from visiting them, and they were not allowed to leave Shanghai. Zheng Enchong was denied permission to travel to Hong Kong to accept a fellowship teaching law. Authorities also reportedly kept other dissidents under unofficial house arrest. Officials sentenced Shanghai activists Wang Kouma and Wei Qin to 30 months and 27 months in prison, respectively, for “creating a disturbance” related to their lawful petitioning. Mao Hengfeng was released from RTL on February 8 and was serving the remainder of her 18-month sentence under house arrest.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

The main domestic security agencies include the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Armed Police. The People’s Liberation Army is primarily responsible for external security but also has some domestic security responsibilities. Local jurisdictions also frequently used civilian municipal security forces, known as “urban management” officials (chengguan), to enforce administrative measures. The Ministry of Public Security coordinates the country’s civilian police force, which is organized into specialized police agencies and local, county, and provincial jurisdictions. Procuratorate oversight of the police was limited. Corruption at the local level was widespread. Police and urban management officials engaged in extrajudicial detention, extortion, and assault. In 2009 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate acknowledged continuing widespread abuse in law enforcement. In 2009 domestic news media reported the convictions of public security officials who had beaten to death prisoners or suspects in their custody.

In May 2012 the Ministry of Supervision, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and Ministry of Justice jointly issued regulations stating that police in prisons and RTL facilities face dismissal if they are found to have beaten, applied corporal punishment, abused inmates, or instigated such acts.

There were several media reports on deaths under the shuanggui system – the CCP internal disciplinary system used to investigate party members suspected of corruption. In April, Yu Qiyi, a chief engineer at a state-owned enterprise in Wenzhou, died after being interrogated for corruption. Authorities charged six investigators from the Communist Party’s Disciplinary Committee in Wenzhou. The BBC reported they were sentenced to between four and 14 years in prison. They reportedly appealed their sentence.

Oversight of civilian municipal security forces was highly localized and ad hoc. By law the officials can be criminally prosecuted for abuses of power, but such cases were rarely pursued. There were multiple reports of conflicts erupting between these officials and street vendors in Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces. For example, on June 19, civilian municipal security forces reportedly beat a family of fried-chicken vendors in the Beihang night market in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, who refused to turn over their equipment. In protest more than one thousand Shenyang residents gathered at the scene and blocked traffic, and some reportedly retaliated by beating the officials. In some cases mediation resulted in compensation being paid to victims of these officials.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

Police detention beyond 37 days requires prosecutorial approval of a formal arrest. After arrest police are authorized to detain a suspect for up to an additional seven months while the case is investigated.

After the completion of a police investigation, an additional 45 days of detention are allowed for the procuratorate to determine whether to file criminal charges. If charges are filed authorities can detain a suspect for an additional 45 days before beginning judicial proceedings. Police sometimes detained persons beyond the period allowed by law, and pretrial detention periods of a year or longer were common.

The law stipulates that detainees be allowed to meet with defense counsel before criminal charges are filed. Some criminal defense attorneys noted that under the newly revised criminal procedure law their ability to meet with clients improved significantly. In some cases defense attorneys were able to arrange visits at any time and to have private meetings with their clients in detention centers. This generally did not apply to cases considered politically sensitive.

The criminal procedure law requires a court to provide a lawyer to a defendant who has not already retained one; who is blind, deaf, mute, or a minor; or who may be sentenced to death. Revisions that took effect on January 1 added defendants facing a life sentence or who are mentally ill. This law applies whether or not the defendant is indigent. Courts may also provide lawyers to other criminal defendants who cannot afford them, although courts often did not appoint counsel in such circumstances.

Criminal defendants are entitled to apply for bail (also translated as “a guarantor pending trial”) while awaiting trial, but the system does not appear to operate effectively and few suspects were released on bail.

The law requires notification of family members within 24 hours of detention, but individuals were often held without notification for significantly longer periods, especially in politically sensitive cases. Under a sweeping exception officials are not required to provide notification if doing so would “hinder the investigation” of a case. The revised criminal procedure law limits this exception to cases involving state security or terrorism.

The law allows for residential surveillance rather than detention in a formal facility under certain circumstances. Under the revised criminal procedure law, with the approval of the next higher-level authorities, officials can enforce “residential surveillance” on a suspect at a designated place of residence (i.e., a place other than the suspect’s home) for up to six months, when they suspect crimes of endangering state security, terrorism, or serious bribery and believe that surveillance at the suspect’s residence would impede the investigation. Authorities must notify relatives of individuals placed under formal arrest or residential surveillance in a designated abode within 24 hours, unless notification is impossible. They are not required to specify the grounds for or location of the detention. Authorities can also prevent defense lawyers from meeting with suspects in these categories of cases.

The law provides for the right to petition the government for resolution of grievances, but citizens who traveled to Beijing to petition the central government were frequently subjected to arbitrary detention, often by police dispatched from the petitioner’s hometown. Some provincial governments operated facilities in Beijing or in other localities where petitioners from their districts were held in extrajudicial detention. Some local governments took steps to restrict petitioning. According to a 2010 Shanxi provincial government report, the Shanxi Province People’s Congress adopted regulations that listed eight types of “prohibited” petitioning, including: “illegally gathering, encircling, or rushing into government offices or important public spaces, stopping cars or hindering public transportation, linking up with others to petition,” and similar acts. The Shanxi regulations also stated that petitioners suspected of “misrepresenting facts to frame others” could be subject to criminal charges.

Online reports claimed local officials in Zengcheng City, Guangdong Province, sealed off two villages in March during the People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions to prevent residents from petitioning.

On April 17, Shenzhen-based lawyer Jiang Yuanmin was arrested and charged with “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” in connection with his work on behalf of Hainan farmers’ land rights, according to online reports. Family members claimed he was denied medical treatment.

Fujian petitioner Luo Xianying was reportedly arrested in Beijing in fall 2012 and forcibly returned to Sanming in November 2012. At year’s end she was detained in a government building, and her family claimed she had not received adequate treatment for her medical problems.

Before the December 28 NPC Standing Committee decision to abolish RTL, nonjudicial panels, known as “labor re-education panels,” could remand persons to RTL camps for up to three years without trial. Labor re-education panels were authorized to extend these administrative sentences for up to one year. Detainees were technically allowed to challenge administrative RTL sentences and appeal for sentence reduction or suspension, but appeals were rarely successful.

Other forms of administrative detention include “custody and education” (for women engaged in prostitution and those soliciting prostitution) and “custody and training” (for minor criminal offenders). The law establishes a system of “compulsory isolation for drug rehabilitation.” The minimum stay in such centers is two years, and the law states that treatment can include labor. Public security organs authorize detention in these centers, and it often was meted out as an administrative rather than criminal measure. Authorities used administrative detention to intimidate political activists and prevent public demonstrations.

Arbitrary Arrest: In February police began detaining and arresting dozens of activists, lawyers, and other citizens in an apparently coordinated crackdown on a loose grouping of activists known as the New Citizens Movement. The Beijing Municipality Traffic Security Division detained Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications lecturer and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong on July 16 on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” He was formally arrested on August 22 and formally charged in December. On September 13, authorities detained venture capitalist and popular microblogger Wang Gongquan on charges of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order,” after he used his microblog to decry Xu’s arrest.

Other New Citizens Movement associates arrested for peaceful advocacy of good governance included Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, Li Sihua, Yuan Dong, Ma Xinli, Zhang Baocheng, Hou Xin, Li Wei, Wang Yonghong, Ding Jiaxi, Sun Hanhui, Zhao Changqing, Qi Yueying, Zhang Xiangzhong, Li Gang, Li Huanjun, and Song Guangqiang.

Authorities arrested persons on allegations of revealing state secrets, subversion, and other crimes as a means to suppress political dissent and public advocacy. These charges – including what constitutes a state secret – remained ill defined. Authorities also detained citizens and foreigners under broad and ambiguous state secrets laws for, among other actions, disclosing information on criminal trials, meetings, commercial activity, and government activity. Authorities sometimes retroactively labeled a particular action as a violation of the state secret laws. According to a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report, local officials in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, detained Zhou Xingrong, whose child died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, for nine hours in April 2012 for allegedly revealing “state secrets” by microblogging about efforts by bereaved parents to obtain compensation for their children’s earthquake-related deaths. According to a western media report, authorities continued to harass her during the year.

Authorities placed numerous dissidents, activists, and petitioners under house arrest during the October National Day holiday period and at other sensitive times, such as during the visits of senior foreign government officials or in the period preceding the annual plenary sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, and sensitive anniversaries in Tibetan areas and the XUAR.

Conditions faced by those under house arrest varied but sometimes included complete isolation in their homes under police guard. In some instances security officials were stationed inside the homes of subjects under house arrest. Others under house arrest occasionally were permitted to leave their homes to work or run errands but were required to ride in police vehicles. In some cases police or plainclothes security officers escorted the children of politically sensitive individuals to and from school. When permitted to leave their homes, subjects of house arrest were usually under police surveillance. Authorities in the XUAR used house arrest and other forms of arbitrary detention against those accused of supporting the “three evils” of religious extremism, “splittism,” and terrorism.

After serving one year at an RTL camp for staging protests calling for political reforms and attempting to visit prominent activist Ai Weiwei, Fujian petitioner Wang Weizhu was released in July. She went to a foreign embassy compound in Beijing after her release to distribute leaflets about her grievances, after which Beijing Police reportedly detained her for five days.

According to the RFA, in June authorities detained members of the Guizhou Human Rights Symposium, including Wu Yuqin, Li Renke, and Mo Jiangang, and forced them to leave the provincial capital for the duration of the two-day EU-China meeting on human rights there.

Pretrial Detention: Pretrial detention can last as long as one year. Defendants in “sensitive cases” reported being subjected to prolonged pretrial detention.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law states that the courts shall exercise judicial power independently, without interference from administrative organs, social organizations, and individuals. The judiciary did not exercise judicial power independently. Legal scholars interpreted former president Hu Jintao’s doctrine of the “Three Supremes” as stating that the interests of the CCP are above the law. Judges regularly received political guidance on pending cases, including instructions on how to rule, from both the government and the CCP, particularly in politically sensitive cases. The CCP Law and Politics Committee has the authority to review and influence court operations at all levels of the judiciary.

During the year media sources indicated public security authorities used televised confessions of foreign and domestic bloggers, journalists, and business executives in an attempt to establish guilt before their criminal trial proceedings began.

A CCP-controlled committee decides most major cases, and the duty of trial and appellate court judges is to craft a legal justification for the committee’s decision.

“Judicial independence” was reportedly one of the off-limit subjects that the CCP ordered university professors not to discuss (see section 2.a., Academic Freedom).

Corruption also influenced court decisions. Safeguards against judicial corruption were vague and poorly enforced. Local governments appoint and pay local court judges and, as a result, often exerted influence over the rulings of judges in their districts.

Courts are not authorized to rule on the constitutionality of legislation. The law permits organizations or individuals to question the constitutionality of laws and regulations, but a constitutional challenge can be directed only to the promulgating legislative body. Lawyers have little or no opportunity to rely on constitutional claims in litigation.

Trial Procedures

The criminal justice system was biased toward a presumption of guilt, especially in high-profile or politically sensitive cases. According to the Supreme People’s Court, in 2011 the combined conviction rate for first- and second-instance criminal trials was 99.9 percent. Of 1,051,638 criminal defendants tried in 2011, only 891 were acquitted.

In many politically sensitive trials courts handed down guilty verdicts immediately following proceedings with no deliberation. Courts often punished defendants who refused to acknowledge guilt with harsher sentences than those who confessed. The appeals process rarely reversed convictions. Appeals processes failed to provide sufficient avenues for review, and remedies for violations of defendants’ rights were inadequate.

Regulations of the Supreme People’s Court require all trials to be open to the public, with the exceptions of cases involving state secrets, privacy issues, and minors. Authorities used the state-secrets provision to keep politically sensitive proceedings closed to the public, sometimes even to family members, and to withhold access to defense counsel. Court regulations state that foreigners with valid identification should be allowed to observe trials under the same criteria as citizens, but foreigners were permitted to attend court proceedings only by invitation. As in past years, foreign diplomats and journalists unsuccessfully sought permission to attend a number of trials. In some instances the trials were reclassified as “state secrets” cases or otherwise closed to the public. During the year foreign diplomats attempted to attend nearly one dozen public trials throughout the country. In each instance court officials claimed that there were no available seats in the courtroom and that foreigners needed prior permission to attend trials.

Some trials were broadcast, and court proceedings were a regular television feature. A few courts published their verdicts on the internet.

The revised criminal procedure law makes clear that a criminal suspect may retain a lawyer immediately after an initial police interrogation or after his or her freedom has been officially limited. Investigators are required to inform suspects of their right to retain counsel. Police must also arrange meetings between a defense lawyer and his or her client within 48 hours of a request from defense counsel.

Individuals facing administrative detention do not have the right to seek legal counsel. Criminal defendants were eligible for legal assistance, although more than 50 percent of criminal defendants went to trial without a lawyer. According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2012 there were more than one million legal aid cases. The revised criminal procedure law expanded requirements for legal aid to include cases that could result in life imprisonment and cases involving individuals suffering from mental illness.

Human rights lawyers reported that authorities did not permit them to defend certain clients or threatened them with punishment if they chose to do so. The government suspended or revoked the licenses of lawyers or their firms to stop them from taking sensitive cases, such as defending prodemocracy dissidents, house-church activists, Falun Gong practitioners, or government critics.

The CCP continued to require law firms with three or more CCP members to form a CCP unit within the firm. Firms with one or two CCP members may establish joint CCP units with other firms. In smaller counties and cities with few lawyers, CCP members may join local Justice Bureau CCP units. This rule also applies to private companies and other organizations.

Some lawyers declined to represent defendants in politically sensitive cases, and such defendants frequently found it difficult to find an attorney.

Authorities detained Guangzhou-based activist Yang Maodong (also known under the pen name Guo Feixiong) on August 8 on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order of a public place.” According to several Western media sources, officials repeatedly denied him access to lawyers. International media speculated he was detained in connection with his participation in protests surrounding the incident in January involving censorship of the Guangzhou newspaper Southern Weekend and his association with the New Citizens Movement (see section 2, Freedom of Speech and Press).

When defendants were able to retain counsel in politically sensitive cases, government officials sometimes prevented attorneys from organizing an effective defense. Tactics employed by court and government officials included unlawful detentions, disbarment, harassment and physical intimidation, and denial of access to evidence and to clients.

In April a court in Jiangsu Province placed Beijing rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang under a 10-day judicial detention for “serious violations of court procedure.” The violations consisted of using his mobile telephone to copy a set of original documents he was submitting to the court during the trial of a Falun Gong practitioner.

Online reports indicated that on June 25 riot police in Wenchang, Hainan Province, intercepted a group of Guangzhou-based lawyers who had come to represent detained dissident Zheng Qiuwu and his wife. The riot police scuffled with the lawyers and forced them to return to the provincial capital of Haikou.

The annual licensing review process administered by the Beijing Lawyers Association was used to withhold or delay the renewal of professional lawyers’ licenses, which restricted the ability of a number of human rights and public interest lawyers to practice law.

Government officials continued to harass lawyers for their involvement in high-profile, rights-related cases.

Defense attorneys may be held legally responsible if their client commits perjury, and prosecutors and judges have wide discretion to decide what constitutes perjury. In some sensitive cases lawyers had no pretrial access to their clients, and defendants and lawyers were not allowed to communicate with one another during trials. Criminal defendants were frequently not assigned an attorney until a case was brought to court. According to a Ministry of Justice official, in 2011 lawyers represented fewer than half of criminal defendants, and in some provincial-level administrative regions, only an estimated 12 percent of criminal suspects had lawyers.

Mechanisms allowing defendants to confront their accusers were inadequate. Only a small percentage of trials involved witnesses, and fewer than 10 percent of subpoenaed witnesses appeared in court. A provision of the revised criminal procedure law compels witnesses to appear in court and includes protections for witnesses and financial allowances for performing the duties of a witness. In most criminal trials, prosecutors read witness statements, which neither the defendants nor their lawyers had an opportunity to rebut. Although the law states that pretrial witness statements cannot serve as the sole basis for conviction, prosecutors relied heavily on such statements. Defense attorneys had no authority to compel witnesses to testify or to mandate discovery, although they could apply for access to government-held evidence relevant to their case. Defense attorneys received minimal pretrial access to information.

The criminal code contains 55 capital offenses, including nonviolent financial crimes such as embezzlement and corruption. There was no publicly available government information on how many defendants were either sentenced to death or executed during the year. Official figures on execution are classified as a state secret. An international human rights NGO estimated that 4,000 persons were executed annually in recent years, a marked decrease in the years following the 2007 Supreme People’s Court retrieval of its authority to conduct final reviews of death sentences. Lethal injection and shooting were employed as execution methods.

Chen Youxi, the attorney for street vendor Xia Junfeng, who was convicted of killing two urban management officials in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, and executed on September 25, argued that the Supreme People’s Court failed to consider evidence supporting Xia’s claims of self-defense during its review of his sentence. According to a report, the presiding judge refused to admit the testimony of several eyewitnesses and relied on the statements of other urban management officials.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

Government officials continued to deny holding any political prisoners, asserting that authorities detained persons not for their political or religious views but because they violated the law. Authorities, however, continued to imprison citizens for reasons related to politics and religion. Tens of thousands of political prisoners remained incarcerated, some in prisons and others in RTL camps or administrative detention. The government did not grant international humanitarian organizations access to political prisoners.

Foreign NGOs estimated that several hundred persons remained in prison for “counterrevolutionary crimes,” which were removed from the criminal code in 1997. Thousands of others were serving sentences under state security statutes. The government apparently neither reviewed all cases of those charged before 1997 with counterrevolutionary crimes nor released persons jailed for nonviolent offenses under repealed provisions of the criminal law. The government maintained that prisoners serving sentences for counterrevolutionary crimes and endangering state security were eligible to apply for sentence reduction and parole. Political prisoners, however, were granted early release at lower rates than other prisoners. Observers believed that persons remained in prison for crimes in connection with their involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen prodemocracy movement, although the number was unknown because related official statistics were never made public.

Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng remained in prison in Xinjiang for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence. Authorities sharply limited access to him and at times concealed his whereabouts. Democracy activist Hada remained in unofficial detention in Inner Mongolia three years after reportedly completing a 15-year sentence in 2010. Hada’s wife and sons also faced periods of extralegal house arrest.

Many political prisoners remained in prison or under other forms of detention at year’s end, including rights activists Wang Bingzhang and Liu Xianbin; Ablikim Abdureyim, son of Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer; Zhou Yongjun; labor activist Kong Youping; Roman Catholic bishop Su Zhimin; and Tibetan Buddhist reincarnate lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was reportedly in poor health.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, coauthor of the Charter ‘08 manifesto that called for increased political freedoms and human rights, remained in Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning Province. Beijing-based human rights attorney Mo Shaoping, whose firm represented Liu, reported that Liu’s wife Liu Xia was allowed to travel from Beijing to Jinzhou to see him monthly. She remained under 24-hour surveillance, and police escorted her whenever she was allowed to leave her home. Media reports in December indicated that Liu Xia might be suffering from depression due to her long-term isolation and deprivation of access to books and the internet.

On August 16, a Beijing court sentenced Liu Hui, Liu Xiaobo’s brother-in-law, to 11 years’ imprisonment on spurious charges of contract fraud by. Liu Xia was allowed to attend the trial on April 23 and told onlookers outside the court that she was not free.

At year’s end reliable information was not available as to whether the following individuals remained in detention: Abdulla Jamal, Uighur activist Dilkex Tilivaldi, Feng Xinchun, Gonpo Lhundrub, Gonpo Thar, Jalo, Tselo, and Wang Diangang.

Criminal punishments continued to include “deprivation of political rights” for a fixed period after release from prison, during which time the individual was denied rights of free speech, association, and publication. Former prisoners reported that their ability to find employment, travel, obtain residence permits, rent residences, and access social services was severely restricted. Former political prisoners and their families frequently were subjected to police surveillance, telephone wiretaps, searches, and other forms of harassment or threats.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

Courts deciding civil matters faced the same limitations on judicial independence as criminal courts. The State Compensation Law provides administrative and judicial remedies for plaintiffs whose rights or interests government agencies or officials have infringed. The law also allows compensation for wrongful detention, mental trauma, or physical injuries inflicted by detention center or prison officials. Citizens seldom applied for state compensation because of the high cost of bringing lawsuits, low credibility of courts, and citizens’ lack of awareness of the State Compensation Law. Victims’ claims were difficult to assess because of vague definitions in the law and difficulties in obtaining evidence of injury or damage. Judges were reluctant to accept state compensation cases, and government agencies seldom implemented court judgments in favor of plaintiffs.

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

While the law states that the “freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens are protected by law,” authorities often did not respect the privacy of citizens. Although the law requires warrants before law enforcement officials can search premises, officials frequently ignored this requirement. The Public Security Bureau and prosecutors are authorized to issue search warrants on their own authority without judicial review. Cases of forced entry by police officers continued to be reported.

Authorities monitored telephone conversations, fax transmissions, e-mail, text messaging, and internet communications. They 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.

According to foreign media reports, the Ministry of Public Security used tens of millions of surveillance cameras in the country. Authorities justified the security cameras as a way to improve public safety, crime fighting, traffic management, and “social stability.” Human rights groups stated authorities increasingly relied on the cameras to monitor and intimidate political dissidents, Tibetans, and Uighurs.

The monitoring and disruption of telephone and internet communications were particularly widespread in the XUAR and Tibetan areas. Authorities frequently warned dissidents and activists, underground religious figures, and former political prisoners throughout the country not to meet with foreign journalists or diplomats, especially before sensitive anniversaries, at the time of important government or CCP meetings, and during the visits of high-level foreign officials. Security personnel harassed and detained the family members of political prisoners, including following them to meetings with foreign reporters and diplomats and urging them to remain silent about the cases of their relatives.

Family members of activists, dissidents, Falun Gong practitioners, journalists, unregistered religious figures, and former political prisoners were targeted for arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment (see section 1.d.).

In April four unidentified men forcibly removed 10-year-old Zhang Anni, the daughter of prodemocracy activist, Zhang Lin, from school and detained her at the Hefei city police station for several hours. Under government pressure, Hupo Elementary School refused to enroll Zhang Anni for seven weeks.

Chen Kegui, nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng, remained in prison at year’s end. In April media reported that Kegui was suffering from an unknown health condition in prison following allegations of torture by prison authorities. Authorities denied his family’s request for medical parole.

On August 16, Guangzhou police prohibited activist Tang Jingling and his wife Wang Yanfang from attending the funeral of well known house church pastor Samuel Lamb. Security officials reportedly put many pastors under house arrest to prevent them from attending the funeral. Guangzhou security personnel had previously detained Wang Yanfang for 10 days in December 2011 and January 2012 in connection with protests in the Guangdong village of Wukan.

On May 31, police in Wenchang, Hainan, arrested dissident Zheng Qiuwu’s wife. On June 4, Zhejiang authorities detained Zheng himself and sent him home to Hainan. Both Zheng and his wife reportedly were charged with “illegal business activity.”

Forced relocation because of urban development continued and in some locations increased during the year. Protests over relocation terms or compensation were common, and some protest leaders were prosecuted. In rural areas infrastructure and commercial development projects resulted in the forced relocation of millions of persons.

Property-related disputes between citizens and government authorities, which often turned violent, were widespread in both urban and rural areas. These disputes frequently stemmed from local officials’ collusion with property developers to pay little or no compensation to displaced residents, combined with a lack of effective government oversight or media scrutiny of local officials’ involvement in property transactions, as well as a lack of legal remedies or other dispute resolution mechanisms for displaced residents. The problem persisted despite the central government’s efforts to impose stronger controls over illegal land seizures and to standardize compensation. Redevelopment in traditional Uighur neighborhoods in cities throughout the XUAR, such as the Old City area in Kashgar, resulted in the destruction of historically or culturally important areas. Some residents voiced opposition to the lack of proper compensation provided by the government and coercive measures used to obtain their agreement to redevelopment. There were several reports of herders in Inner Mongolia complaining of confiscation of traditional pastoral lands for development.

Foreign media reported that at least 53 persons had self-immolated since 2009 to protest destruction of their homes.

For information on the government’s family planning policies and their consequences, see section 6, Women.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:Share    

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The law provides for freedom of speech and press, although authorities generally did not respect these rights. Authorities continued to control print, broadcast, and electronic media tightly and used them to propagate government views and CCP ideology. During the year authorities imposed censorship and manipulated the press and the internet, particularly around sensitive anniversaries.

Freedom of Speech: With significant exceptions, especially speech that challenged the government or the CCP, political topics could be discussed privately and in small groups without official punishment. During the year some independent think tanks, study groups, and seminars reported pressure to cancel some sessions on sensitive topics. Those who made politically sensitive comments in public speeches, academic discussions, and comments to the media remained subject to punitive measures.

In March the government merged the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television with the General Administration of Press and Publication to create a new broadcast and press regulatory body, the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television.

On September 9, the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued a judicial interpretation that made online rumormongering a punishable offense. Under the interpretation the author of a libelous internet post that is reposted more than 500 times or read more than 5,000 times, or of an internet post that led to mass protests, instigated ethnic or religious clashes, damaged the country’s image or caused “a bad international effect,” is subject to a maximum of three years in prison. By year’s end this interpretation had a chilling effect on online discourse.

The government frequently monitored gatherings of intellectuals, scholars, and dissidents where political or sensitive issues were discussed. In 2008, to commemorate International Human Rights Day, a group of 303 intellectuals and activists released a petition entitled Charter ‘08, calling for the CCP to respect human rights and implement democratic reforms. Since then Charter ‘08 signers continued to report official harassment, especially around sensitive dates.

According to Western media reports, Shenzhen activist Yang Mingyu (also known as Yang Lin) was arrested July 19 for “inciting subversion of state power” in connection with his democracy activism, participation in Charter ‘08, and efforts to disclose official corruption.

On August 12, activist Liu Jiacai, who served two years administrative detention sentence on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” in 2002, was detained in Hubei Province on criminal charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” Police reported that he was detained for posting and disseminating online writings and views about legal reform in China. NGO sources reported that the charges stemmed from the fact that Liu had gathered activists in Yichang, Hubei Province for dinner parties, where they discussed corruption and other sensitive topics.

Press Freedoms: All books and magazines require state-issued publication numbers, which were expensive and often difficult to obtain. Nearly all print media, broadcast media, and book publishers were affiliated with the CCP or a government agency. There were a small number of print publications with some private ownership interest but no privately owned television or radio stations. The CCP directed the domestic media to refrain from reporting on certain subjects, and all broadcast programming required government approval.

In November the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television began requiring news organizations to hold weekly lectures on the CCP’s journalistic principles, and journalists applying to renew their media credentials are required to take an examination on Marxist journalistic ideals.

Foreign journalists based in the country found a challenging environment for reporting. According to the annual “Reporting Conditions” survey of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), “98 percent of respondents do not think reporting conditions in China meet international standards, and 70 percent feel conditions have worsened or stayed the same as the year before.”

On July 8, journalist and documentary filmmaker Du Bin was released from a Beijing jail on bail after being detained for five weeks for allegedly “disturbing order at a public place.” In May, Du had posted an online documentary about the Masanjia Women’s RTL Camp in Liaoning Province (see section 1.c.), and also in May a publisher with offices in Hong Kong and New York published his book on the Tiananmen massacre.

Violence and Harassment: On July 15, law enforcement officers in Baita District of Liaoyang, Liaoning Province, allegedly beat a Chinese Business Morning View journalist who was reporting on a dispute between residents and developers at a construction site and destroyed his interview recordings.

Restrictions on foreign journalists by central and local CCP propaganda departments remained strict, especially during sensitive times and anniversaries. Foreign press outlets reported that local employees of foreign news agencies were also subject to official harassment and intimidation. During the year the FCCC “found 63 cases in which police officers or unknown persons impeded foreign reporters from doing their work, including nine cases in which reporters were manhandled or subjected to physical force.” The report adds that while “this represents a welcome drop from last year,” such intimidation “remains unacceptable.”

According to Western media reports, in February a group of unidentified men in four vehicles assaulted a German television crew filming in a village near Beijing. According to a German correspondent present at the scene, the men ran the crew’s minivan off the road and then smashed its windshield with baseball bats.

In December, Chinese authorities prevented a Western reporter from attending a press event with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

The FCCC reported that, although routine delays in the provision of journalist visas appear to have shortened in recent months, 10 percent of survey respondents reported difficulties in obtaining official press accreditation or a journalist visa because of their reporting or that of their predecessors. While some reporters who authored particularly controversial news articles ultimately had their visas renewed, their news organizations experienced difficulty obtaining visas for new journalists and staff, even when these individuals previously held journalist visas for China.

Additionally, among the correspondents surveyed, 30 percent stated their Chinese assistants encountered pressure from officials or experienced harassment.

The government limited attendance at official press briefings to domestic media. Foreign media and diplomats were allowed to attend only briefings conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a handful of press briefings held around special events.

Authorities continued to enforce tight restrictions on citizens employed by foreign news organizations. The code of conduct for Chinese employees of foreign media organizations threatens with dismissal and loss of accreditation Chinese employees who engage in “independent reporting” and instructs them to provide their employers information that projects a good image of the country.

Official guidelines for domestic journalists were often vague, subject to change at the discretion of propaganda officials, and enforced retroactively. Propaganda authorities forced newspapers to fire editors and journalists responsible for articles deemed inconsistent with official policy and suspended or closed publications. The system of postpublication review by propaganda officials encouraged self-censorship by editors seeking to avoid the losses associated with penalties for inadvertently printing unauthorized content. Officials can be punished for unauthorized contact with journalists.

Government officials used criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits, and other punishments, including violence, detention, and other forms of harassment, to intimidate authors and journalists and to prevent the dissemination of controversial writings. A domestic journalist can face demotion or job loss for publishing views that challenge the government.

In January a group of current and former journalists from the Guangzhou newspaper Southern Weekend (also translated as Southern Weekly), part of the Nanfang Daily Group, accused provincial propaganda officials of altering the newspaper’s traditional New Year’s message, which called for increased respect for constitutional rights. Southern Weekend journalists went on strike January 6 to protest editorial censorship, and students and activists began holding supportive demonstrations in front of the newspaper offices in Guangzhou. The protests turned into a broader public backlash against press censorship and were supported by editors, reporters, and social media. An agreement between the newspaper’s staff and party overseers ended the strike January 8 and allowed the newspaper to resume publication January 10, but a clampdown on dissent reportedly followed. According to media reports, local authorities forcibly dispersed anticensorship protests, detained several activists for expressing solidarity with the newspaper, and blocked and deleted all references to the controversy from the internet.

Journalists who remained in prison at year’s end included Yang Tongyan, and Dhondup Wangchen. Uighur webmasters Dilshat Perhat and Nijat Azat continued to serve sentences for “endangering state security.” Uighur journalist Memetjan Abdulla was sentenced to life in prison in 2010, reportedly for transmitting “subversive” information related to the 2009 riots. During the year journalists working in traditional and new media were also imprisoned. In December 2012 the Prison Census of the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, of 32 known journalists imprisoned in the country, 12 were ethnic Tibetan, seven were ethnic Uighur, and one was ethnic Mongolian. The committee documented two new imprisonment cases in 2012.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: Authorities continued to confiscate “unauthorized publications.” According to the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications, 45 million illegal publications were confiscated and more than 3.7 million pieces of online information involving pornography or other illegal content were deleted in 2012.

Foreign journalists were denied permits to travel to the TAR, except for a very few highly controlled, government-organized press visits. Travel to Tibetan areas outside the TAR became increasingly difficult for foreign journalists. While foreign journalists were allowed access to Urumqi, XUAR, local and provincial authorities continued to control strictly the travel, access, and interviews of foreign journalists, even forcing them to leave cities in parts of the XUAR. After French news station France 24 broadcast journalist Cyril Payen’s documentary about Tibet on May 30, Chinese embassy personnel went to the channel’s headquarters in Paris to demand the withdrawal of the documentary from the station’s website. The Chinese embassy in Bangkok also threatened Payen by telephone, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Media outlets received regular guidance on topics that should not be covered from the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department. For example, in April the department issued censorship instructions to mainland media prohibiting them from reusing, reporting, and commenting on Lens magazine’s April article on the Masanjia Women’s Labor Re-education Camp in Liaoning Province (see section 1.c.).

Following an October typhoon in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, that killed 10 persons and sparked protests about the government response, the State Council Information Office issued instructions to media outlets and internet companies not to report a local newspaper’s story about the protests.

In December 2012 the Central Propaganda Department ordered media outlets to adhere strictly to the information provided by authoritative departments when reporting on officials suspected of involvement in graft or bribery. Throughout the year the Central Propaganda Department issued similar instructions regarding the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive, the self-immolation of Tibetans, and the Bo Xilai scandal. The orders included instructions for media outlets not to investigate or report on their own.

Authorities continued to ban books with content they deemed controversial. The law permits only government-approved publishing houses to print books. The State Press and Publications Administration (PPA) controlled all licenses to publish. Newspapers, periodicals, books, audio and video recordings, or electronic publications may not be printed or distributed without the approval of the PPA and relevant provincial publishing authorities. Individuals who attempted to publish without government approval faced imprisonment, fines, confiscation of their books, and other sanctions. The CCP exerted control over the publishing industry by preemptively classifying certain topics as state secrets.

Many intellectuals and scholars exercised self-censorship, anticipating that books or papers on political topics would be deemed too sensitive to be published. The censorship process for private and government media also increasingly relied on self-censorship and, in a few cases, postpublication sanctions.

The General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, and the CCP remained active in issuing restrictive regulations and decisions constraining the content of broadcast media.

Authorities continued to jam, with varying degrees of success, Chinese-, Uighur-, and Tibetan-language broadcasts of the Voice of America (VOA), the BBC, and RFA. English-language broadcasts on the VOA generally were not jammed. Internet distribution of streaming radio news and podcasts from these sources often was blocked. Despite the jamming of overseas broadcasts, the VOA, the BBC, RFA, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France International had large audiences, including human rights advocates, ordinary citizens, and government officials.

Overseas television newscasts, largely restricted to hotels and foreign residence compounds, were occasionally subject to censorship. Such censorship of foreign broadcasts also occurred around the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and during the 18th Party Congress in 2012. Individual issues of foreign newspapers and magazines were occasionally banned when they contained articles deemed too sensitive. After two U.S. media websites published articles on Bloomberg.com and in the New York Times detailing the family wealth of Xi Jinping and Wen Jiabao, websites for both media outlets were blocked.

Politically sensitive coverage in Chinese, and to a lesser extent in English, were censored more than coverage in other languages. The government prohibited some foreign and domestic films deemed too sensitive or selectively censored parts of films before they were released.

Internet Freedom

In 2010 the Information Office of the State Council released its first White Paper on the internet outlining the government’s endeavors to allow certain freedoms of speech on the internet as long as the speech did not endanger state security, subvert state power, damage state honor and interests, jeopardize state religious policy, propagate heretical or superstitious ideas, or spread rumors and other content forbidden by laws and administrative regulations, among other caveats. The internet was widely available and widely used. The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) reported that by the end of 2012 the number of internet users reached 564 million, including 420 million mobile telephone internet users. The CNNIC reported that 50.9 million new users were added in 2012 – a 3.8 percent increase from 2011. The International Telecommunication Union reported that 39 percent of individuals used the internet and 41 percent of households had access to the internet by the end of the year.

The CCP underscored the importance of maintaining security and promoting core socialist values on the internet in its official decision adopted at the Sixth Plenum of the 17th CCP Congress in October 2011. The document called for developing a “healthy and uplifting network culture” that entails measures such as “step[ping] up guidance and management over social networks and instant messaging tools, standardiz[ing] the transmission order of information on the internet, and foster[ing] a civilized and rational network environment.”

The CCP continued to increase efforts to monitor internet use, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic websites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who ran afoul of political sensitivities. According to news sources, more than 14 government ministries participated in these efforts, resulting in the censorship of thousands of domestic and foreign websites, blogs, cell phone text messages, social networking services, online chat rooms, online games, and e-mail. These measures were not universally effective. In addition to its own extensive system of internet censorship, the government imposed more responsibilities on internet companies to implement online censorship and surveillance regimes, and it sought to prohibit anonymous expression online.

A State Council regulation deems personal blogs, computer bulletin boards, and cell phone text messages to be part of the news media, which subjects these media to state restrictions on content. Internet service providers were instructed to use only domestic media news postings, to record information useful for tracking users and their viewing habits, to install software capable of copying e-mails, and to end immediately transmission of “subversive material.”

Under guidance from the CCP, the government employed thousands of persons at the national, provincial, and local levels to monitor electronic communications. Official monitoring focused on such tools as social networking, microblogging, and video-sharing sites. Internet companies also employed thousands of censors to implement CCP directives.

In 2011 central government authorities ordered all public spaces offering free wireless internet access to install costly software that would enable police to identify users of the service. Authorities warned Beijing cafe and restaurant owners they would face a fine of 20,000 renminbi (RMB) ($3,270) if they offered wireless internet access without installing the software. In December 2012 the NPC ratified a law requiring persons to give their real names when signing up for internet, fixed telephone line, or mobile telephone services. Providers must also require persons’ names when allowing them to post information publicly.

Major news portals require users to register using their real names and identification numbers to comment on news articles. Individuals using the internet in public libraries are required to register using their national identity card, and usage reportedly was monitored at all public library terminals.

The government consistently blocked access to websites it deemed controversial, especially those discussing Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, Tibet, underground religious and spiritual organizations, democracy activists, and the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. The government also at times blocked access to selected sites operated by foreign governments, news outlets, health organizations, educational institutions, NGOs, and social networking sites, as well as to search engines that allow rapid communication or organization of users.

In June 2012, following the publication of an expose on the financial affairs of Xi Jinping’s family, the government blocked access to a Western media website. In October 2012 the government blocked access to the English- and Chinese-language versions of a U.S. media website after it published an article on Wen Jiabao’s family fortunes. At year’s end, several Western media and social media websites were not accessible.

Some websites included images of cartoon police officers that warn users to stay away from forbidden content. Operators of web portals, blog-hosting services, and other content providers engaged in self-censorship to ensure their servers were free from politically sensitive content. Domestic websites that refused to self-censor political content were shut down, and many foreign websites were blocked. Millions of citizens had Twitter-like microblogs that circulated some news banned in the national media. The microblogs themselves were censored but often hours or days after the posting.

In July 2012 the State Internet Information Office and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued a circular requiring online video content providers to review videos before making them available online and holding them responsible for the content.

Authorities employed an array of technical measures to block “sensitive” websites based in foreign countries. The ability of users to access such sensitive sites varied from city to city. The government also automatically censored e-mail and web chats based on a list of sensitive key words, such as “Falun Gong,” “Dalai Lama,” and “Tibetan independence.” While such censorship was effective in keeping casual users away from sensitive content, it was defeated through the use of various technologies. Information on proxy servers outside China and software for defeating official censorship was readily available inside the country, but the government increasingly blocked access to the websites and proxy servers of commercial virtual private network providers. Despite official monitoring and censorship, dissidents and political activists continued to use the internet to call attention to political causes such as prisoner advocacy, political reform, ethnic discrimination, and corruption. Internet users spanning the political spectrum complained of censorship. Authorities sometimes blocked or closed the blogs of a number of prominent activists, artists, scholars, and university professors during the year.

There were numerous press reports of purported cyber-attacks against foreign websites, foreign journalists, and foreign media organizations that carried information deemed offensive by the government.

Authorities continued to jail numerous internet writers for peaceful expression of political views.

According to online reports, in June police in Fujian detained an online activist for 10 days for her microblog comments about a June 7 bus explosion in Xiamen. Police previously detained this same blogger in January 2012 for her comments about alleged corruption behind forced home evictions and demolitions in Xiamen’s Jimei district.

The blog of environmental writer Liu Futang remained inaccessible. His blog, which exposed environmental problems caused by government-backed projects, was shut down in late 2012 after a Hainan Province court found him guilty of illegally profiting from self-published books.

The State Secrets Law obliges internet companies to cooperate with investigations of suspected leaks of state secrets, stop the transmission of such information once discovered, and report the crime to authorities. Furthermore, the companies must comply with authorities’ orders to delete such information from their websites, and failure to do so is punishable by relevant departments such as the police and the Ministry of Public Security.

Regulations prohibit a broad range of activities that authorities interpret as subversive or slanderous to the state.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

The government continued restrictions on academic and artistic freedom, and political and social discourse at colleges, universities, and research institutes. The General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film, and Television and the Central Propaganda Department issued restrictive regulations and decisions that constrained the flow of ideas and persons. In May the media reported that the CCP issued secret instructions to university faculty identifying seven “off-limits” subjects including universal values, freedom of the press, civil society, civil rights, an independent judiciary, elite cronyism, and the historical errors of the CCP. Some academics self-censored their publications, faced pressure to reach predetermined research results, or were unable to hold conferences with international participants during politically sensitive periods. Peking University economics professor Xia Yeliang came under government criticism for calling for public discussion of reform among intellectuals, and in October he was dismissed from his university position.

In December the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai dismissed law professor Zhang Xuezhong for criticizing one-party rule in an online publication. According to reports, the school administration decided Zhang was unfit to teach after he refused to admit any wrongdoing.

Censorship and self-censorship of artistic works was common, particularly those artworks deemed to involve politically sensitive subjects.

Authorities on a few occasions blocked entry into the country of individuals deemed politically sensitive and declined to issue passports to Chinese citizens selected for international exchange programs who were considered “politically unreliable,” singling out ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs and individuals from other minority nationality areas.

A number of other foreign government-sponsored exchange selectees, particularly those from minority provinces, encountered difficulties gaining approval to travel to participate in their programs.

The government used political attitudes and affiliations as criteria for selecting persons for the few government-sponsored study abroad programs but did not impose such restrictions on privately sponsored students. The government and the party controlled the appointment of high-level officials at universities. While CCP membership was not always a requirement to obtain a tenured faculty position, scholars without CCP affiliation often had fewer chances for promotion.

Foreign researchers, authors, and academics residing abroad reported they were subject to sanctions, including denial of visas, from authorities when their work did not meet with official approval. Thirteen foreign academics asserted that they were blacklisted and blocked from obtaining visas to travel to China for having contributed scholarly essays to a book on Xinjiang published in 2004. Other scholars continued to be blacklisted or faced difficulties obtaining visas because of their politically sensitive work on China.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of Assembly

While the law provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, the government severely restricted this right. The law stipulates that such activities may not challenge “party leadership” or infringe upon the “interests of the state.” Protests against the political system or national leaders were prohibited. Authorities denied permits and quickly suppressed demonstrations involving expression of dissenting political views.

Citizens continued to gather publicly to protest evictions, relocations, and compensation in locations throughout the country, often resulting in conflict with authorities or other charges (see section 1.f.).

Guangdong police worked aggressively to curtail free speech and preempt peaceful assembly during the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident. Authorities ordered 15-day administrative detention for the organizers of one event. Police placed other activists under surveillance or house arrest, encouraged some to leave town on “vacation,” or invited them to police stations for “tea” and questioning. Police also reportedly restricted the freedom of Foshan rights activist Chen Qitang and Guangzhou rights activists Wang Aizhong and Tang Jingling in late May and early June in advance of and during the anniversary of the Tiananmen incident.

In January, Guangzhou police detained numerous persons involved in public demonstrations against the provincial propaganda department’s censorship of Southern Weekend’s New Year’s greeting. In addition to administrative detentions and formal arrests, police reportedly held a number of participants in irregular detention facilities including a movie theater and a military base (see section 2.a.).

On January 2, police in the Luoxi neighborhood of Guangzhou preemptively detained dozens of activists, including organizer Xu Lin, for planning a musical performance and poetry recitation at a public square to celebrate the New Year.

On February 23, Liu Yuandong, Sun Desheng, and 12 others were detained in Guangdong for their participation in protests directed at North Korea’s nuclear test. Most of the protesters were freed or given administrative detentions, but police formally arrested and charged Liu on April 3. According to media reports, police subjected Liu and Sun to mistreatment in custody including sleep deprivation. On April 12, authorities in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, gave four activists administrative detentions after they held up banners calling for Liu’s release. On August 13, authorities in Guangzhou again detained Sun Desheng for the crimes of gathering crowds and disrupting public order.

In May, Chengdu authorities preemptively deployed 170,000 security personnel throughout the city on the date of a planned protest against the construction of a nearby petrochemical plant and its production of paraxylene. Authorities also detained suspected activists in the days leading up to the planned protest.

Also in May, Changsha authorities in Hunan Province detained Xiang Yuhan following his organization of a peaceful march of 100 persons in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia. Xiang was confined for 12 days in administrative detention on a charge of “illegal protest.”

In February the Nanjing NGO Tianxiagong (Justice for All) won a lawsuit against a hotel in Suzhou that in 2012 had canceled its conference reservations at the last moment on order from the local PSB. In May another NGO’s legal rights conference in Hangzhou faced similar obstructions when hotels canceled reservations. The hotels informed the NGO that Zhejiang and Jiangsu province security officers ordered authorities not to permit holding the gathering anywhere in the provinces.

All concerts, sports events, exercise classes, or other meetings of more than 200 persons require approval from public security authorities. Although peaceful protests are legal, police rarely granted approval. Despite restrictions there were many demonstrations, but those with political or social themes were broken up quickly, sometimes with excessive force. The number of “mass incidents” and protests, including some violent protests, against local governments increased during the year. According to an international NGO, a former leading member of the CCP’s Politics and Law Commission stated that the country experienced 30,000 to 50,000 mass incidents every year. As in past years, the vast majority of demonstrations concerned land disputes; housing problems; industrial, environmental, and labor matters; government corruption; taxation; and other economic and social concerns. Others were provoked by accidents or were related to personal petitions, administrative litigation, and other legal processes.

Disputes over land expropriation continued to trigger large-scale clashes between police and protesters.

The law protects an individual’s ability to petition the government, but persons petitioning the government faced restrictions on their rights to assemble and raise grievances (see section 1.d.). Most petitions addressed grievances about land, housing, entitlements, the environment, or corruption. Most petitioners sought to present their complaints at national and provincial “letters and visits” offices.

Although banned by regulations, retaliation against petitioners reportedly continued. This was partly due to incentives the central government provided to local officials to prevent petitioners from raising complaints to higher levels. Incentives included provincial cadre evaluations based in part on the number of petitions from their provinces. This initiative aimed to encourage local and provincial officials to resolve legitimate complaints but also resulted in local officials sending security personnel to Beijing and forcibly returning the petitioners to their home provinces to prevent them from filing complaints against local officials with the central government. Such detentions often went unrecorded. Rules issued by the General Office of the State Council mandate sending officials from Beijing to the provinces to resolve petition problems locally, thereby reducing the number of petitioners entering Beijing. The rules also mandate a 60-day response time for petitions and provide for a single appeal in each case.

Petitioners faced harassment, illegal detention, and even more severe forms of punishment when attempting to travel to Beijing to present their grievances.

On January 5, authorities prevented 13 petitioners from Fujian Province from requesting assistance with their petitions from a foreign embassy in Beijing. According to online reports, police detained six of the petitioners for five days and one petitioner for 10 days.

Freedom of Association

The law provides for freedom of association, but the government restricted this right. CCP policy and government regulations require that all professional, social, and economic organizations officially register with, and receive approval from the government. These regulations prevented the formation of truly autonomous political, human rights, religious, spiritual, labor, and other organizations that the government believed might challenge its authority.

The government maintained tight controls over civil society organizations.

According to regulations issued by the State Administration for Foreign Exchange, foreign exchange donations to or by domestic institutions must “comply with the laws and regulations…and shall not go against social morality or damage public interests and the legitimate rights and interests of other citizens.” For donations to a domestic organization from a foreign NGO, the regulations require all parties and the banks to approve additional measures prior to processing a transaction. Application of the regulation varied, with some NGOs successfully navigating the requirements, others identifying other options by which to receive funds, and some severely limiting or shutting down operations.

To register, an NGO must find a government agency to serve as its organizational sponsor, have a registered office, and hold a minimum amount of funds. Some organizations with social or educational purposes that previously registered as private or for-profit businesses reportedly were requested to find a government sponsor and reregister as NGOs during the year. Finding a government sponsor was often very difficult, since the government department can be held responsible if the NGO engages in sensitive behavior. In March the NPC announced changes for NGO registration that waived the requirement to find a government sponsor. However, these changes only apply to four types of NGOs – industrial associations, charities, community services, and organizations dedicated to the promotion of technology. NGO sources reported that the new regulations do not apply to organizations primarily focused on advocacy or rights promotion.

In July the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced the intention to pass legislation that would allow international NGOs to register with provincial civil affairs authorities instead of the ministry. By year’s end the legislation had not been promulgated.

In 2012 Guangdong provincial government officials initiated proposals aimed at facilitating the operations and work of many NGOs, including, for example, simplifying registration procedures so that certain categories of NGOs could register directly with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Implementation of regulations associated with these proposals was often inconsistent. Although some NGOs perceived to be working in nonpolitically sensitive areas enjoyed increased opportunities, others continued to face interference from authorities, for example, through increased financial scrutiny. Labor NGOs in Shenzhen continued to face a challenging environment, including registration hurdles and occasional government interference with their activities.

Although registered organizations all came under some degree of government control, some NGOs were able to operate with a greater degree of independence.

The number of NGOs continued to grow, despite the restrictions and regulations. The government used the term “social organization” to categorize social groups (shehui tuanti), such as trade and professional associations; civil noncommercial units (minban fei qiye danwei), which are the equivalent of nonprofit service providers; and foundations (jijinhui). The last category included two types of foundations: public fundraising and private fundraising foundations. The government continued to impose fundraising limits on private foundations.

According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, by the end of 2012 there were at least one million NGOs either operating without legal status or registered as companies. The country had approximately 462,000 legally registered social organizations, including 255,000 social groups, 204,000 civil noncommercial units, and 2,614 foundations. In 2012 an official of the Ministry of Civil Affairs wrote, “In 2007 China started to use the term ‘social organization’ instead of ‘civil organization’ because ‘civil’ contrasts with ‘official’ and reflected the opposing roles of civil society and government in the traditional political order. The 16th and 17th CCP Congresses changed the name to ‘social organization.’ NGOs existed under a variety of formal and informal guises, including national mass organizations created and funded by the CCP, known as ‘government NGOs.’”

The lack of legal registration created numerous logistical challenges for NGOs, including difficulty opening bank accounts and receiving foreign funding, hiring workers, fundraising, and renting office space. NGOs that opted not to partner with government agencies could register as commercial consulting companies, which allowed them to obtain legal recognition at the cost of forgoing tax-free status. Security authorities routinely warned domestic NGOs, regardless of their registration status, not to accept donations from the foreign-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other international organizations deemed sensitive by the government.

In July officials from the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau raided, closed, and confiscated materials from the think tank Transition Institute for not registering properly. The institute registered as a business, and its head, Guo Yushan, was associated with the New Citizens Movement and activists such as Chen Guangcheng and Xu Zhiyong.

Authorities supported the growth of some NGOs that focused on social problems such as poverty alleviation and disaster relief, but remained concerned that these organizations might emerge as a source of political opposition. NGOs working in the TAR and other Tibetan areas faced an increasingly difficult operating environment, and many were forced to curtail their activities altogether due to travel restrictions, official intimidation of staff members, and the failure of local partners to renew project agreements.

No laws or regulations specifically govern the formation of political parties. The Chinese Democracy Party remained banned, and the government continued to monitor, detain, and imprison current and former CDP members.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, but the government generally did not respect these rights. While seriously restricting its scope of operations, the government occasionally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which maintained an office in Beijing, to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern.

Increasingly the government silenced activists by denying them permission to travel, both internationally and domestically, or keeping them under unofficial house arrest. In the spring officials denied Jiangsu environmental activist Wu Lihong a passport to travel abroad to accept a human rights award, although his wife and daughter were eventually permitted to travel and accepted the award on his behalf. Uighur economist Ilham Tohti was detained at Beijing airport and prevented from traveling abroad to accept a position as a visiting scholar.

In-country Movement: Authorities heightened restrictions on freedom of movement, particularly to curtail the movement of individuals deemed politically sensitive, before key anniversaries, visits by foreign dignitaries, or major political events and to forestall demonstrations. Freedom of movement continued to be very limited in the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Police maintained checkpoints in most counties and on roads leading into many towns, as well as within major cities such as Lhasa. Tibetans from other provinces reported that authorities subjected them to onerous documentation requirements to enter the TAR and required Tibetans who were not residents of Lhasa to obtain permission to enter the city, often forcing them to stay in specially designated accommodations, requirements not imposed on Han Chinese visitors to the TAR.

In 2012 prominent Tibetan poet and blogger Woeser, a Beijing resident, was required to leave Beijing and return to Lhasa for three months before and during the 18th Party Congress in Beijing. Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti was also required to leave Beijing during the Party Congress. Feng Zhenghu, Mao Hengfeng, and other Shanghai activists reported being repeatedly detained upon arrival in Beijing when attempting to visit other activists or petition the national government.

Although the government maintained restrictions on the freedom to change one’s workplace or residence, the national household registration system (hukou) continued to change, and the ability of most citizens to move within the country to work and live continued to expand. Rural residents continued to migrate to the cities, where the per capita disposable income was more than four times the rural per capita income, but many could not change their official residence or workplace within the country. Most cities had annual quotas for the number of new temporary residence permits that could be issued, and all workers, including university graduates, had to compete for a limited number of such permits. It was particularly difficult for rural residents to obtain household registration in more economically developed urban areas.

The household registration system added to the difficulties rural residents faced even after they relocated to urban areas and found employment. According to the 2012 Statistical Communique of the People’s Republic of China on 2012 National Economic and Social Development published in February by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 279 million persons lived outside the jurisdiction of their household registration. Of that number, 236 million individuals worked outside their home district. Many migrant workers and their families faced numerous obstacles with regard to working conditions and labor rights. Many were unable to access public services, such as public education or social insurance, in the cities where they lived and worked because they were not legally registered urban residents. Poor treatment and difficulty integrating into local communities contributed to increased unrest among migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta. Migrant workers had little recourse when abused by employers and officials. Some major cities maintained programs to provide migrant workers and their children access to public education and other social services free of charge, but migrants in some locations reported difficulty in obtaining these benefits due to the onerous bureaucratic processes involved in obtaining access to urban services.

Under the “staying at prison employment” system applicable to recidivists incarcerated in RTL camps, authorities denied certain persons permission to return to their homes after serving their sentences. Some released or paroled prisoners returned home but were not permitted freedom of movement.

Foreign Travel: The government permitted legal emigration and foreign travel for most citizens. Some academics and activists continued to face travel restrictions, especially around sensitive anniversaries (see section 1.d.). The government exercised exit control for departing passengers at airports and other border crossings and utilized this exit control to deny foreign travel to dissidents and persons employed in sensitive government posts. Throughout the year lawyers, artists, authors, and other activists were at times prevented from freely exiting the country. Border officials and police cited threats to “national security” as the reason for refusing permission to leave the country. Authorities stopped most persons at the airport at the time of the attempted travel. Wuxi environmental activist Wu Lihong was prevented from traveling abroad to accept a human rights award in July. Shanghai activist Zheng Enchong was prevented from accepting a teaching fellowship in Hong Kong in August. Shanghai activist Chen Jianfang was prevented from traveling to a UN human rights training course in Geneva in September. Well known artist Ai Weiwei was denied a passport to attend exhibitions of his work abroad. Other activists also reported being blocked from traveling abroad.

Most citizens could obtain passports, although those government deemed potential threats, including religious leaders, political dissidents, petitioners, and ethnic minorities, reported routinely being refused passports or otherwise prevented from traveling overseas.

Ethnic Uighurs, particularly those residing in the XUAR, reported that it was very difficult to get a passport application approved at the local level. They were frequently denied passports to travel abroad, particularly to Saudi Arabia for the haj, other Muslim countries, or Western countries for academic or other purposes. Authorities reportedly seized valid passports of some residents of the XUAR and other citizens.

In the TAR and Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces, ethnic Tibetans experienced great difficulty acquiring passports. The unwillingness of Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas to issue or renew passports for ethnic Tibetans created, in effect, a ban on foreign travel for a large segment of the Tibetan population. Han residents of Tibetan areas did not experience the same difficulties.

Authorities denied Tibetan blogger and poet Woeser’s passport application, preventing her from receiving the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage award in person. According to an RFA report, in June authorities placed Woeser and her husband under house arrest for speaking up about conditions in Tibet ahead of a state-sponsored trip by foreign journalists to the TAR.

Exile: The law neither provides for a citizen’s right to repatriate nor addresses exile. The government continued to refuse reentry to numerous Chinese citizens who were considered dissidents, Falun Gong activists, or “troublemakers.” Although authorities allowed some dissidents living abroad to return, dissidents released on medical parole and allowed to leave the country often were effectively exiled. Authorities imprisoned some activists residing abroad upon their return to the country.

Emigration and Repatriation: The government continued to try to prevent many Tibetans and Uighurs from leaving the country and detained many who were apprehended in flight (see Tibet Annex). During the year 171 Tibetans transited the UNHCR reception center in Kathmandu. There also were reports of the forcible return of Uighur asylum seekers from Malaysia in 2012. Of a group of 20 Uighurs returned from Cambodia in 2009, three persons, a woman and two children, were reportedly freed, and in 2011, 16 others received prison sentences ranging from 16 years to life. Chinese authorities continued to refuse to provide information regarding the whereabouts of the remaining individual.

Protection of Refugees

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of refugee or asylee status, and the government did not establish a system for providing protection to refugees. Although the government does not grant refugee or asylee status, it allowed the UNHCR more latitude in assisting non-North Korean and non-Burmese refugees. The UNHCR office in Beijing recognized approximately 100 refugees from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Eritrea and was processing approximately 100 additional individuals who requested refugee status. Because the PRC did not officially recognize these individuals as refugees, they remained in the country as illegal immigrants unable to work, with no access to education, and subject to deportation at any time.

Refoulement: The government did not provide protection against the expulsion or forcible return of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, especially North Korean and Kachin refugees, to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The government continued to consider all North Koreans “economic migrants” rather than refugees or asylum seekers, and the UNHCR continued to have no access to North Korean or Burmese refugees inside China. The lack of access to durable solutions and options, as well as constant fear of forced repatriation by authorities, left North Korean refugees vulnerable to human traffickers. Reports of various exploitation schemes targeting North Korean refugees, such as forced marriages, forced labor, and prostitution, were common. The government continued to deny the UNHCR permission to operate along its borders with North Korea and Burma.

Some North Koreans who entered diplomatic compounds in the country were permitted to travel to foreign countries after waiting for periods of up to two years.

On May 27, there were reports that the government of Laos coordinated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to deport nine North Korean asylum seekers from Laos to China. On June 3, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated the nine individuals entered China on May 27 and subsequently left Beijing bound for the DPRK holding valid travel documents and visas.

After two-time North Korean defector and South Korean citizen Kim Kwang-ho defected from North Korea to China for the second time, Chinese security officials in Yanji, Jilin Province, detained Kim, his wife Kim Ok-sil, and their daughter in July and held them until August before allowing them to return to South Korea. Chinese authorities reportedly repatriated to North Korea Kim’s North Korean brother- and sister-in-law, who defected with him.

Refugee Abuse: The intensified crackdown begun in 2008 against North Korean asylum seekers and refugees reportedly extended to harassment of religious communities along the border. The government arrested and detained individuals who provided food, shelter, transportation, and other assistance to North Koreans. According to reports some activists or brokers detained for assisting North Koreans were charged with human smuggling, and in some cases the North Koreans were forcibly returned. There were also reports that North Korean agents operated clandestinely within the country to repatriate North Korean citizens forcibly. According to press reports, some North Koreans detained by Chinese police faced repatriation unless they could pay bribes to secure their release.

Access to Basic Services: Undocumented children of some North Korean asylum seekers and of mixed couples (i.e., one Chinese parent and one North Korean parent) did not have access to health care, public education, or other social services due to lack of legal status.

Durable Solutions: The government largely cooperated with the UNHCR when dealing with the resettlement of ethnic Han Chinese or ethnic minorities from Vietnam and Laos who resided in the country since the Vietnam War era. During the year the government and the UNHCR continued discussions concerning the granting of citizenship to these long-term residents and their children, many of whom were born in China.

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

The constitution states that “all power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people” and that the organs through which the people exercise state power are the NPC and the people’s congresses at provincial, district, and local levels. While the law provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, citizens cannot freely choose or change the laws or officials that govern them. In fact the CCP controlled virtually all elections and continued to control appointments to positions of political power.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: The NPC, composed of up to 3,000 deputies, elects the president and vice president, the premier and vice premiers, and the chairman of the State Central Military Commission. The NPC Standing Committee, which consisted of 175 members, oversaw these elections and determined the agenda and procedures for the NPC.

The NPC Standing Committee remained under the direct authority of the CCP, and most legislative decisions require the concurrence of the CCP’s seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. Despite its broad authority under the state constitution, the NPC did not set policy independently or remove political leaders without the CCP’s approval.

According to Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics, almost all of the country’s more than 600,000 villages had implemented direct elections for members of local subgovernmental organizations known as village committees. The direct election of officials by ordinary citizens remained narrow in scope and strictly confined to the local level. The government estimated that serious procedural flaws marred one-third of all elections. Corruption, vote buying, and interference by township-level and CCP officials continued to be problems. The law permits each voter to cast proxy votes for up to three other voters.

The election law governs legislative bodies at all levels, although compliance and enforcement was uneven across the country. Under this law citizens have the opportunity every five years to vote for local people’s congress representatives at the county level and below, although in most cases higher-level government officials or CCP cadres controlled the nomination of candidates in those elections. At higher levels legislators selected people’s congress delegates from among their ranks. For example, provincial-level people’s congresses selected delegates to the NPC. Local CCP secretaries generally served concurrently within the leadership team of the local people’s congress, thus strengthening CCP control over legislatures.

In 2012 the local governments kept most independent candidates – those without official government backing – off the ballots despite their meeting nomination criteria. No declared independent candidates won election in 2012. Election officials pressured independent candidates to renounce their candidacies, manipulated the ballot to exclude independent candidates, refused to disclose electorate information to independent candidates, and sometimes adjusted electoral districts to dilute voter support for independent candidates.

In September an independent People’s Congress candidate from Foshan City, Guangdong Province, who was detained in 2011 during the People’s Congress representative elections that year on a charge of undermining elections, was tried and found guilty of “disrupting elections.” According to open source websites, hundreds of her supporters who wanted to observe her trial were denied access to the court.

Political Parties: Official statements asserted, “The political party system [that] China has adopted is multi-party cooperation and political consultation under” CCP leadership. The CCP, however, retained a monopoly on political power, and the government forbade the creation of new political parties. The government officially recognized nine parties founded prior to 1949, and parties other than the CCP held 30 percent of the seats in the NPC. Activists attempting to support unofficial parties were arrested, detained, or confined.

In 2009 in Hunan Province, dissident Xie Changfa, who tried to organize a national meeting of the banned CDP, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Guo Quan, a former Nanjing University professor and founder of the China New Democracy Party, remained imprisoned following his 2009 sentence to 10 years in prison and three years’ deprivation of political rights for “subversion of state power.” Guo published articles criticizing the country’s one-party system. Other current or former CDP members, including Yang Tianshui, remained in prison or in RTL camps for their calls for political reform and their affiliation with the CDP.

Participation of Women and Minorities: While the government placed no special restrictions on the participation of women or minority groups in the political process, women held few positions of significant influence in the CCP or government structure. Among the 2,987 delegates of the 11th NPC (term 2008-13), 637 were women (21 percent).

Ten women occupied ministerial or higher-ranked positions.

According to government-provided information, there were more than 230 female provincial and ministerial officials, 10 percent of the overall total; 670 female mayors and vice mayors, twice the number from 1995; and one provincial governor, Li Bin in Anhui Province (until June). A total of 37 women were members of provincial standing committees, constituting 9 percent of standing committee members. Following the 18th Party Congress in November, two women were members of the CCP’s 25-member Politburo. There were no women in the Standing Committee of the Politburo. There were approximately 15 million female CCP cadres, approximately one-fifth of the party’s membership.

The government encouraged women to exercise their right to vote in village committee elections and to run in those elections, although only a small fraction of elected members were women. In many locations a seat on the village committee was reserved for a woman, who was usually given responsibility for family planning. The election law provides a general mandate for quotas for female and ethnic minority representatives, but achieving these quotas often required election authorities to violate the election procedures specified in the election law. During the 2011-12 local people’s congresses elections, many electoral districts in which independent candidates campaigned used these quotas as justification to thwart the independent candidacies.

A total of 411 delegates from 55 ethnic minorities were members of 11th NPC, accounting for 14 percent of the total number of delegates. All of the country’s officially recognized minority groups were represented.

The 18th Communist Party Congress elected 10 members of ethnic minority groups as members of the Central Committee.

The only ministerial-level post held by an ethnic minority member was in the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, headed by Yang Jing, an ethnic Mongol from Inner Mongolia. Until November 2012 Hui Liangyu of the Hui ethnic group was a member of the Politburo. Minorities held few senior CCP or government positions of significant influence (see also section 6, National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities).

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in GovernmentShare    

Although according to the law officials face criminal penalties for corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Many cases of corruption involved areas heavily regulated by the government, such as land-usage rights, real estate, and infrastructure development, which were susceptible to fraud, bribery, and kickbacks. Court judgments often could not be enforced against powerful special entities, including government departments, state-owned enterprises, military personnel, and some members of the CCP.

While corruption remained a serious problem, there were increasing indications that the government recognized the seriousness of the problem.

In January the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the CCP’s leading body for countering corruption among members, reported that it had investigated 155,144 corruption-related cases and closed 153,704 of them and that the CCP and government had disciplined 160,718 officials.

In October the Supreme People’s Procuratorate reported that prosecutors nationwide had investigated 18,283 cases involving bribery and major embezzlement from January to August. Among the suspects were 129 officials at the director general level and above.

In December the CCP Central Committee unveiled a five-year plan to punish and prevent corruption. On December 26, the CCDI reported it had punished 25,855 individuals for breaches to antibureaucracy and formalism rules during the year, including 6,247 CCP officials.

In February 2012 the NPC’s Standing Committee amended the criminal law to make citizens and companies paying bribes to foreign government officials and officials of international public organizations subject to criminal punishments of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

In October 2012 the government established a “frugal working style” rule barring government officials from spending public money on luxury items such as lavish banquets and luxury cars and from accepting expensive gifts. In September the government banned officials from using public money to send mooncakes as gifts and in December published regulations that banned dishes containing shark fin, bird nests, and wild animal products from official banquets. In December the government issued guidelines forbidding officials from chartering planes or flying in private or corporate jets overseas.

In 2012 the Supreme People’s Court urged local courts to ban family members of officials and judges from being lawyers under the local court’s jurisdiction. Also in 2012 the Higher People’s Court of Fujian Province forbade judges from meeting privately with representatives in a case.

In February 2012 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced the availability of a national bribery database listing individuals and companies found guilty of certain offenses, including bribing an individual or entity, and facilitating bribery. Companies and individuals must apply in writing to have the procuratorate check nationwide to determine whether a particular individual or company has been convicted of bribery offenses in the PRC. Companies must provide a copy of their business license.

In June 2012 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate stated it would strengthen measures to recover and freeze illegal assets transferred abroad by corrupt officials.

Corruption: In numerous cases during the year, public officials and leaders of state-owned enterprises, who generally hold high CCP ranks, were investigated for corruption. In June the CCDI announced that Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor of Sichuan Province, was under investigation for suspected disciplinary violations.

In July a Beijing court sentenced former railroads minister Liu Zhijun to death, with a two-year reprieve. Liu came under scrutiny for his mismanagement of the country’s high-speed train network.

On August 26, the Ministry of Supervision announced that Wang Yongchun, a vice president at state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and the general manager of Daqing oilfield in Heilongjiang Province, was being investigated for “severe disciplinary violations.”

In September the Beijing Municipal People’s Procuratorate confirmed that it had indicted former Jilin vice governor Tian Xueren on corruption charges but did not provide a trial date or information about the specific charges against him. Tian was reported to have been stripped of both his party membership and government position for taking bribes.

In December the CCDI investigated Vice-Minister of Public Security Li Dongsheng for “suspected serious law and discipline violations.”

Notable organizations that worked to address official corruption included the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Ministry of Supervision, the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention, the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, and the Anti-Corruption and Governance Research Center at Tsinghua University.

Whistleblower Protection: In 1991 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate published the Regulation to Protect Citizen’s Whistleblowing Rights. Whistleblowing protections are also included in various criminal and labor laws. Legal experts opined, however, that the constellation of laws and regulations did not provide adequate protections to whistleblowers. In September the government created an official website for citizens to report fraud, graft, and government mismanagement, with priority given to those who provide their real names and contact information. The government does not provide legal protection for whistleblowers who do not use official channels.

Financial Disclosure: A 2010 regulation requires officials in government agencies or state-owned enterprises at the county level or above to report their ownership of property, including that in their spouses’ or children’s names, as well as their families’ investments in financial assets and enterprises. According to Article 23 of the regulations, the monitoring bodies are the CCDI, the Organization Department of the CCP, and the Ministry of Supervision. The regulations do not state that declarations are to be made public. Instead, they are to go to a higher administrative level and a human resource department. Punishments for not declaring information vary from education on the regulations, warning talks, and adjusting one’s work position to being relieved of one’s position. Regulations further state that officials should report all income, including allowances, subsidies and bonuses, as well as income from other jobs such as giving lectures, writing, consulting, reviewing articles, painting, and calligraphy. Officials, their spouses, and the children who live with them also should report their real estate properties and financial investments. Government officials should report their marriage status, records of private travel abroad, marriage status of their children, and whether their spouses are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or a foreign country. They must report whether their children live abroad, as well as the work status of their children and grandchildren (including those who live abroad). Officials are required to file reports annually and must report changes of personal status within 30 days.

In December 2012 officials announced that Guangdong Province would pilot a program in select districts requiring all CCP and government officials to report their assets publicly, with officials who refuse to do so to be relieved of their posts and subjected to further investigations. This program was not put into practice by year’s end.

Public Access to Information: Open-government information regulations allow citizens to request information from the government. The regulations require government authorities to create formal channels for information requests and to include an appeal process if requests are rejected or not answered. They stipulate that administrative agencies should reply to requests immediately to the extent possible. Otherwise, the administrative agency should provide the information within 15 working days, with the possibility of a maximum extension of an additional 15 days. In cases in which third-party rights and interests are involved, the time needed to consult the third party does not count against the time limits. According to the regulations, administrative agencies may collect only cost-based fees (as determined by the State Council) for searching, photocopying, postage, and similar expenses when disclosing government information on request. Citizens requesting information can also apply for a fee reduction or exemption. The regulations include exceptions for state secrets, commercial secrets, and individual privacy.

Publicly released provincial- and national-level statistics for open-government information requests showed wide disparities across localities, levels of government, and departments in numbers of requests filed and official documents released in response.

If information requestors believe that an administrative agency has violated the regulations, they can report it to the next higher-level administrative agency, the supervision agency, or the department in charge of open-government information. In 2011 the Supreme People’s Court ruled that citizens can sue any government department that refused to provide unclassified information. Shortly thereafter a Tsinghua University graduate student sued three government ministries after her requests for information regarding the duties of 14 ministries for use in her thesis were denied. A court delayed consideration of her case pending further research, and she withdrew her lawsuit after the ministries provided the requested information.

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsShare    

The government sought to maintain control over civil society groups, halt the emergence of independent NGOs, hinder the activities of civil society and rights’ activist groups, and prevent what it called the “Westernization” of the country. The government did not permit independent domestic NGOs to monitor openly or to comment on human rights conditions, and it harassed domestic NGOs. The government tended to be suspicious of independent organizations and scrutinized NGOs with financial and other links overseas. Most large NGOs were quasi-governmental, and many official NGOs had to be sponsored by government agencies. The NPC introduced new registration procedures in March that allowed certain types of nonadvocacy NGOs to register directly with the Ministry of Civil Affairs (see section 2.b., Freedom of Association).

An informal network of activists around the country continued to serve as a credible source of information about human rights violations. The information was disseminated through organizations such as the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the foreign-based Human Rights in China, and Chinese Human Rights Defenders and via the internet.

The government remained reluctant to accept criticism of its human rights record by other nations or international organizations. It criticized reports by international human rights monitoring groups, claiming that such reports were inaccurate and interfered with the country’s internal affairs. Representatives of some international human rights organizations reported that authorities denied their visa requests or restricted the length of visas issued to them. The government continued to participate in official diplomatic human rights dialogues with foreign governments although some governments encountered problems scheduling such dialogues.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The government did not have a human rights ombudsman or commission. The government-established China Society for Human Rights was an NGO whose mandate is to defend the government’s human rights record. The government maintained that each country’s economic, social, cultural, and historical conditions influenced its approach to human rights.

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in PersonsShare    

While there were laws designed to protect women, children, persons with disabilities, and minorities, some discrimination based on ethnicity, sex, disability, and other factors persisted.

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal, and some persons convicted of rape were executed. The penalties for rape can range from three years in prison to a death sentence with a two-year reprieve and forced labor. The law does not address spousal rape. The government did not make available official statistics on rape or sexual assault, leaving the scale of sexual violence difficult to determine. Migrant female workers were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.

Violence against women remained a significant problem. According to reports at least a quarter of families suffered from domestic violence, and more than 85 percent of the victims were women. Domestic violence against women included verbal and psychological abuse, restrictions on personal freedom, economic control, physical violence, and rape. The government supported shelters for victims of domestic violence, and some courts provided protections to victims, including through restraining orders prohibiting a perpetrator of domestic violence from coming near a victim. In March, Shaanxi Province designated the Number Two People’s Hospital as an antidomestic violence service station to treat victims of domestic violence, the first designation of its kind. Nonetheless, official assistance did not always reach victims, and public security forces often ignored domestic violence. In 2010 the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF) reported that it received 50,000 domestic violence complaints annually. Spousal abuse typically went unreported, and an ACWF study found that only 7 percent of rural women who suffered domestic violence sought help from police. Almost 30 percent of respondents in a recent study felt that domestic violence should be kept a private matter.

While domestic violence tended to be more prevalent in rural areas, it also occurred among the highly educated urban population. The ACWF reported that approximately one-quarter of the 400,000 divorces registered each year were the result of family violence.

According to ACWF statistics nationwide in 2008 there were 12,000 special police booths for domestic violence complaints, 400 shelters for victims of domestic violence, and 350 examination centers for women claiming injuries from domestic violence. Many domestic violence shelters had inadequate facilities, required extensive documentation, or went unused. The government operated most shelters, some with NGO participation. In 2012 the government provided 680,000 office spaces in government buildings for women’s resource centers.

There was no strong legal mechanism to protect women from domestic abuse. According to the ACWF, laws related to domestic violence were flawed since there was no national provision for dealing with offenders. During the year the creation of such mechanisms was added to the NPC’s legislative agenda, the fifth time the ACWF submitted such a proposal. Both the marriage law and the law on the protection of women’s rights and interests have stipulations that directly prohibit domestic violence, but some experts complained that the stipulations were too general, failed to define domestic violence, and were difficult to implement. Because of standards of evidence, even if certain that domestic violence was occurring, a judge could not rule against the abuser without the abuser’s confession. Only 10 percent of accused abusers confessed to violent behavior, according to 2009 data from the Institute of Applied Laws. The institute reported that, although 40 to 60 percent of marriage and family cases involved domestic violence, less than 30 percent were able to supply indirect evidence, including photographs, hospital records, police records, or children’s testimony. Witnesses seldom testified in court.

Public support increased in the fight against domestic violence. A recent survey found that more than 85 percent of respondents believed that further antidomestic violence legislation was needed. A high-profile case, Kim Lee’s case against her celebrity husband, Li Yang, led to public outcry when she posted pictures of her injuries on a social networking site. After months of waiting, Lee was granted a civil protection order forbidding her husband from approaching within 200 yards of her. In February a Beijing court granted Lee a divorce on the grounds of domestic abuse and issued a three-month protection order against her former husband. This case set a precedent because the court acknowledged domestic violence as grounds for divorce, granted a protection order, and ordered the former husband to pay compensation for the violence she had endured during their marriage.

Sexual Harassment: The law bans sexual harassment, and the number of sexual harassment complaints increased significantly. A 2009 Harvard University study showed that 80 percent of working women in the country experienced sexual harassment at some stage of their careers. The same study found that only 30 percent of sexual harassment claims by women achieved favorable resolutions. In November an NGO published its survey of female manufacturing workers in Guangzhou, which indicated that as much as 70 percent of Guangzhou’s female workforce had been sexually harassed. Approximately half did not pursue legal or administrative actions, while 15 percent of respondents reported leaving the workplace to escape their harasser.

Sexual harassment was not limited to the workplace. According to a China Youth Daily survey reported in September, approximately 14 percent of women had been sexually harassed while riding the subway, and 82 percent of those polled believed the problem existed. At a Hainan Province festival in 2012, a dozen women were pinned down by a crowd of men who mauled the women and stripped off their clothes in broad daylight. Police escorted the women away and, according to press reports, subsequently detained six suspects in the assault.

According to information on the ACWF website, the internet and hotlines made it easier for women who were sexually harassed to obtain useful information and legal service. A Beijing rights lawyer told the ACWF that approximately

100-200 million women in the country had suffered or were suffering sexual harassment in the workplace but that very few legal service centers provided counseling.

Reproductive Rights: The government restricted the rights of parents to choose the number of children they have. Although national law prohibits the use of physical coercion to compel persons to submit to abortion or sterilization, 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 National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that 13 million women annually underwent abortions caused by unplanned pregnancies. An official news media outlet also reported at least an additional 10 million chemically induced abortions or abortions performed in nongovernment facilities. Government statistics on the percentage of all abortions that were nonelective was not available. According to Health Ministry data released in March 2012, a total of 336 million abortions and 222 million sterilizations had been carried out since 1971.

The national family-planning authorities shifted their emphasis from lowering fertility rates to maintaining low fertility rates and emphasized quality of care in family-planning practices. In 2010 a representative of the National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that 85 percent of women of childbearing age used contraception. Of those, 70 percent used a reversible method. A survey taken in September, however, found that only 12 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 35 had a proper understanding of contraceptive methods. The country’s birth-limitation policies retained harshly coercive elements in law and practice. The financial and administrative penalties for unauthorized births were strict.

The 2002 national population and family-planning law standardized the implementation of the government’s birth-limitation policies, although enforcement varied significantly. The law grants married couples the right to have one birth and allows couples to apply for permission to have a second child if they meet conditions stipulated in local and provincial regulations. The one-child limit was more strictly applied in urban areas, where only couples meeting certain conditions were permitted to have a second child (e.g., if both of the would-be parents were an only child). In most rural areas couples were permitted to have a second child in cases where their first child was a girl. Ethnic minorities were subject to less stringent rules. Nationwide 35 percent of families fell under the one-child restrictions, and more than 60 percent of families were eligible to have a second child, either outright or if they met certain criteria. The remaining 5 percent were eligible to have more than two children. According to government statistics, the average fertility rate for women nationwide was 1.8, and in the country’s most populous and prosperous city, Shanghai, the fertility rate was 0.8. In December the NPC Standing Committee amended the one-child policy to allow couples in which at least one spouse is an only child to have two children.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission reported that all provinces eliminated the birth-approval requirement before a first child is conceived, but provinces may still continue to require parents to “register” pregnancies prior to giving birth to their first child. This registration requirement could be used as a de facto permit system in some provinces, since some local governments continued to mandate abortion for single women who became pregnant. Provinces and localities imposed fines of various amounts on unwed mothers.

Regulations requiring women who violate family-planning policy to terminate their pregnancies still exist in Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces. Other provinces – Fujian, Guizhou, Guangdong, Gansu, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Shanxi, and Shaanxi – require unspecified “remedial measures” to deal with unauthorized pregnancies. A number of online media reports indicated that migrant women applying for household registration in Guangzhou were required to have an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) implanted.

In October, Western media reported that officials from the Shandong Province Family Planning Commission forced their way into the home of Liu Xinwen, dragged her to a nearby hospital, and injected her with an abortion-inducing drug. Shandong officials reportedly forced Liu, who was six months into her pregnancy, to sign a document stating that she had agreed to the abortion.

The government continued to impose “child-raising fees” on violators of the one-child policy. In the first half of the year, for example, Guangzhou City collected more than RMB 300 million ($49 million) in such fees without disclosing how the money was used. Guangdong Province reportedly refused to disclose the amount of fees it had collected from one-child policy violators. Family planning officials in Tunchang County, Hainan Province, used fines and terminated employment as punishment for one-child policy violators.

On December 30, overseas media reported that officials at Nurluq Hospital in Keriye County of Xinjiang’s Hotan Prefecture carried out forced abortions on four pregnant women. According to the report, the deputy chief of Hotan’s Arish Township confirmed that authorities had carried out four of six planned abortions utilizing abortion-inducing drugs. One woman escaped and another was in the hospital awaiting the procedure, the report stated. The head of the township’s Family Planning Department stated the abortions were carried out following orders from higher authorities. The husband of one victim stated that his wife had been seven months’ pregnant when the procedure was performed and that the baby had been born alive before succumbing to the effects of the chemical toxins hours later.

The law requires each parent of an unapproved child to pay a “social compensation fee,” which can reach 10 times a person’s annual disposable income.

Social compensation fees were set and assessed at the local level. The law requires family-planning officials to obtain court approval before taking “forcible” action, such as detaining family members or confiscating and destroying property of families who refuse to pay social compensation fees. This requirement was not always followed, and national authorities remained ineffective at reducing abuses by local officials.

The population control policy relied on education, propaganda, and economic incentives, as well as on more coercive measures. Those who had an unapproved child or helped another do so faced disciplinary measures such as social compensation fees, job loss or demotion, loss of promotion opportunity, expulsion from the CCP (membership is an unofficial requirement for certain jobs), and other administrative punishments, including in some cases the destruction of private property.

It continued to be illegal in almost all provinces for a single woman to have a child, with fines levied for violations. The law states that family-planning bureaus conduct pregnancy tests on married women and provide them with unspecified “follow-up” services. Some provinces fined women who did not undergo periodic pregnancy tests.

Officials at all levels remained subject to rewards or penalties based on meeting the population goals set by their administrative region. Promotions for local officials depended in part on meeting population targets. Linking job promotion with an official’s ability to meet or exceed such targets provided a powerful structural incentive for officials to employ coercive measures to meet population goals. An administrative reform process initiated pilot programs in some localities that removed this criterion for evaluating officials’ performance.

Although the family-planning law states that officials should not violate citizens’ rights in the enforcement of family-planning policy, these rights, as well as penalties for violating them, are not clearly defined. By law citizens may sue officials who exceed their authority in implementing birth-planning policy, but few protections for whistleblowers against retaliation from local officials exist (see section 4, Whistleblower Protection). The law provides significant and detailed sanctions for officials who help persons evade the birth limitations.

According to online reports, women who registered newborns in Nanhai District, Foshan, Guangdong Province, were requested to insert an IUD. Many posted online complaints that officials threatened not to register the baby if the mother did not comply, even when the newborn was the mother’s only child. Other reports indicated that a mother could not enroll her child in school if she was unwilling to insert an IUD.

Discrimination: The constitution states that “women enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life.” The Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests provides for equality in ownership of property, inheritance rights, access to education, and equal pay for equal work. The ACWF was the leading implementer of women’s policy for the government, and the State Council’s National Working Committee on Children and Women coordinated women’s policy. Many activists and observers expressed concern that discrimination was increasing. Women continued to report that discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair dismissal, demotion, and wage discrepancies were significant problems.

Authorities often did not enforce laws protecting the rights of women. According to legal experts, it was difficult to litigate sex-discrimination suits because of vague legal definitions. Some observers noted that the agencies tasked with protecting women’s rights tended to focus on maternity-related benefits and wrongful termination during maternity leave rather than on sex discrimination, violence against women, and sexual harassment.

Despite government policies mandating nondiscrimination in employment and remuneration, women reportedly earned 66 percent as much as men. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the local labor bureaus are responsible for ensuring that enterprises complied with the labor law and the employment promotion law, each of which contains antidiscrimination provisions.

Many employers preferred to hire men to avoid the expense of maternity leave and childcare (paid paternity leave exists for men in some localities, but there is no national provision for paternity leave). Work units were allowed to impose an earlier mandatory retirement age for women than for men, and some employers lowered the effective retirement age for female workers to 50. In general the official retirement age for men was 60 and for women 55. Lower retirement ages also reduced pensions, which generally were based on the number of years worked. Job advertisements for women sometimes specified height and age requirements.

Women’s rights advocates indicated that in rural areas women often forfeited land and property rights to their husbands in divorce proceedings. Rural contract law and laws protecting women’s rights stipulate that women enjoy equal rights in cases of land management, but experts argued that this was rarely the case due to the complexity of the law and difficulties in its implementation. A 2011 interpretation of the country’s marriage law by the Supreme People’s Court exacerbated the gender wealth gap by stating that, after divorce, marital property belongs solely to the person registered as the homeowner in mortgage and registration documents – in most cases the husband. In determining child custody in divorce cases, judges make determinations based on the following guidelines: Children under age two should live with their mothers; custody of children two to nine years of age should be determined by who can provide the most stable living arrangement; and children 10 and over should be consulted when determining custody.

A high female suicide rate continued to be a serious problem. There were approximately 590 female suicides per day, according to a report released in September 2012 by the Chinese Center for Disease and Control and Prevention. This was more than the approximately 500 per day reported in 2009. The report noted that the suicide rate for women was three times higher than for men. Many observers believed that violence against women and girls, discrimination in education and employment, the traditional preference for male children, birth-limitation policies, and other societal factors contributed to the high female suicide rate. Women in rural areas, where the suicide rate for women was three to four times higher than for men, were especially vulnerable.

The World Bank reported that in 2009, 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 were literate, with a literacy rate of 91 percent for women above 15 compared with 97 percent for men above 15.

Women faced discrimination in higher education. The required score for the National Higher Entrance Exam was lower for men than for women at several universities. According to 2010 Ministry of Education statistics, women accounted for 49.6 percent of undergraduate students and 50.3 percent of master’s students in 2012 but only 35 percent of doctoral students. Women with advanced degrees reported discrimination in the hiring process, since the job distribution system became more competitive and market driven.

Gender-based Sex Selection: According to the 2010 national census, the national average male-female sex ratio at birth was 118 to 100. Sex identification and sex-selective abortion were prohibited, but the practices continued because of traditional preference for male children and the birth-limitation policy.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from parents. Parents must register their children in compliance with the national household registration system within one month of birth. Unregistered children cannot access public services. No data was available on the number of unregistered births.

Education: Although the law provides for nine years of compulsory education for children, in economically disadvantaged rural areas many children did not attend school for the required period; some never attended. Although public schools were not allowed to charge tuition, faced with insufficient local and central government funding, many schools continued to charge miscellaneous fees. Such fees and other school-related expenses made it difficult for poorer families and some migrant workers to send their children to school.

In 2010 the official literacy rate for youth (defined as persons between the ages of 15 and 24) was 99 percent. The proportion of girls attending school in rural and minority areas was reportedly smaller than in cities. In rural areas 61 percent of boys and 43 percent of girls completed education at a grade higher than lower middle school. The government reported that nearly 20 million children of migrant laborers followed their parents to urban areas. Denied access to state-run schools, most children of migrant workers who attended school did so at unlicensed and poorly equipped schools.

Medical Care: Female babies suffered from a higher mortality rate than male babies, which was contrary to the worldwide norm. State media reported that infant mortality rates in rural areas were 27 percent higher for girls than boys and that neglect was one factor in their lower survival rate.

Child Abuse: The physical abuse of children can be grounds for criminal prosecution. Kidnapping, buying, and selling children for adoption increased during the past several years, particularly in poor rural areas. There were no reliable estimates of the number of children kidnapped, but according to media reports as many as 20,000 children were kidnapped every year for illegal adoption. Most children kidnapped internally were sold to couples unable to have children. Those convicted of buying an abducted child may be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. In the past most children rescued were boys, but increased demand for children reportedly drove traffickers to focus on girls as well. The Ministry of Public Security maintained a DNA database of parents of missing children and children recovered in law enforcement operations in an effort to reunite families.

Forced and Early Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 22 for men and 20 for women. Child marriage was not known to be a problem, but there were reports of babies sold to be future brides. For example, families would adopt and raise babies for eventual marriage to their sons.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: By law those who force young girls under age 14 into prostitution may be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison, in addition to a fine or confiscation of property. If the case is especially serious, violators can receive a life sentence or be sentenced to death, in addition to confiscation of property. Those inducing girls under age 14 into prostitution can be sentenced to five years or more in prison in addition to a fine. Those who visit female prostitutes under age 14 are subject to five years or more in prison in addition to paying a fine.

According to the law the minimum age for consensual sex is 14.

Pornography of any kind, including child pornography, is illegal. Under the criminal code, those producing, reproducing, publishing, selling, or disseminating obscene materials with the purpose of making a profit may be sentenced up to three years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance in addition to paying a fine. Offenders in serious cases may receive prison sentences of three to 10 years in addition to paying a fine. In especially serious cases offenders are to be sentenced to 10 years or more in prison or given a life sentence in addition to a fine or confiscation of property. Persons found disseminating obscene books, magazines, films, audio or video products, pictures, or other kinds of obscene materials, if the case is serious, may be sentenced up to two years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance. Persons organizing the broadcast of obscene motion pictures or other audio or video products may be sentenced up to three years in prison or put under criminal detention or surveillance in addition to paying a fine. If the case is serious they are to be sentenced to three to 10 years in prison in addition to paying a fine.

Those broadcasting or showing obscene materials to minors less than age 18 are to be “severely punished.”

Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: The Law on the Protection of Juveniles forbids infanticide, but there was evidence that the practice continued. According to the National Population and Family-planning Commission, a handful of doctors were charged with infanticide under this law. Female infanticide, sex-selective abortions, and the abandonment and neglect of baby girls remained problems due to the traditional preference for sons and the coercive birth-limitation policy.

Displaced Children: There were between 150,000 and one million urban street children, according to state-run media. This number was even higher if the children of migrant workers who spent the day on the streets were included. In 2010 the ACWF reported that the number of children in rural areas left behind by their migrant-worker parents totaled 58 million, 40 million under the age of 14.

Institutionalized Children: The law forbids the mistreatment or abandonment of children. The vast majority of children in orphanages were girls, many of whom were abandoned. Boys in orphanages were usually disabled or in poor health. Medical professionals sometimes advised parents of children with disabilities to put the children into orphanages.

The government denied that children in orphanages were mistreated or refused medical care but acknowledged that the system often was unable to provide adequately for some children, particularly those with serious medical problems. Adopted children were counted under the birth-limitation regulations in most locations. As a result, couples who adopted abandoned infant girls were sometimes barred from having additional children.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information see the Department of State’s report at travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport_4308.html.

Anti-Semitism

There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts during the year. The government does not recognize Judaism as an ethnicity or religion. According to information from the Jewish Virtual Library, the country’s Jewish population was 2,500 in 2012.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law protects the rights of persons with disabilities and prohibits discrimination, but conditions for such persons lagged far behind legal dictates and failed to provide persons with disabilities access to programs intended to assist them.

According to Article 3 of the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, “disabled persons are entitled to enjoyment of equal rights as other citizens in political, economic, cultural and social fields, in family life and other aspects. The rights of disabled persons as citizens and their personal dignity are protected by law. Discrimination against, insult of, and infringement upon disabled persons is prohibited.”

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF), a government-organized civil association, are the main entities responsible for persons with disabilities. In June the CDPF stated that, based on 2010 census figures, 85 million persons with disabilities lived in the country. According to government statistics, in 2011 there were 5,254 vocational training facilities, which provided training for 299,000 persons with disabilities. Of the 32 million persons with disabilities of working age, more than 22 million were employed. Government statistics stated that 7.4 million persons with disabilities enjoyed “minimum-life-guarantee” stipends, and nearly three million had social insurance.

The law prohibits discrimination against minors with disabilities and codifies a variety of judicial protections for juveniles. In 2007 the Ministry of Education reported that nationwide there were 1,618 schools for children with disabilities. According to NGOs, there were approximately 20 million children with disabilities, only 2 percent of whom had access to education that could meet their needs.

According to the CDPF, in 2010 more than 519,000 school-age children with disabilities received compulsory education, 68 percent of them in inclusive education, and 32 percent in 1,705 special schools and 2,775 special classes. NGOs claimed that, while the overall school enrollment rate was 99 percent, only 75 percent of children with disabilities were enrolled in school. Nationwide, an estimated 243,000 school-age children with disabilities did not attend school. In 2011 a total of 7,150 persons with disabilities were admitted to standard colleges and universities.

Nearly 100,000 organizations existed, mostly in urban areas, to serve those with disabilities and protect their legal rights. The government, at times in conjunction with NGOs, sponsored programs to integrate persons with disabilities into society.

Misdiagnosis, inadequate medical care, stigmatization, and abandonment remained common problems. According to reports doctors frequently persuaded parents of children with disabilities to place their children in large government-run institutions where care was often inadequate. Those parents who chose to keep children with disabilities at home generally faced difficulty finding adequate medical care, day care, and education for their children. Government statistics showed that almost one-quarter of persons with disabilities lived in extreme poverty.

In part as a result of discrimination, unemployment among adults with disabilities remained a serious problem. The law requires local governments to offer incentives to enterprises that hire persons with disabilities. Regulations in some parts of the country also require employers to pay into a national fund for persons with disabilities when the employees with disabilities do not make up the statutory minimum percentage of the total workforce.

Standards adopted for making roads and buildings accessible to persons with disabilities are subject to the Law on the Handicapped, which calls for their “gradual” implementation. Compliance with the law was limited. The law permits universities to exclude candidates with disabilities who were otherwise qualified.

The law forbids the marriage of persons with certain mental disabilities, such as schizophrenia. If doctors find that a couple is at risk of transmitting congenital disabilities to their children, the couple may marry only if they agree to use birth control or undergo sterilization. The law stipulates that local governments must employ such practices to raise the percentage of births of children without disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Most minority groups resided in areas they traditionally inhabited. Government policy calls for members of recognized minorities to receive preferential treatment in birth planning, university admission, access to loans, and employment. Nonetheless, the substance and implementation of ethnic minority policies remained poor, and discrimination against minorities remained widespread.

Minority groups in border and other regions had less access to education than their Han counterparts, faced job discrimination in favor of Han migrants, and earned incomes well below those in other parts of the country. Government development programs often disrupted traditional living patterns of minority groups and included, in some cases, the forced relocation of persons. Han Chinese benefited disproportionately from government programs and economic growth. As part of its emphasis on building a “harmonious society” and maintaining social stability, the government downplayed racism and institutional discrimination against minorities, which remained the source of deep resentment in the XUAR, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), the TAR, and other Tibetan areas.

Ethnic minorities represented approximately 14 percent of delegates to the NPC and more than 15 percent of NPC Standing Committee members, according to an official report issued in 2011. A 2011 article in the official online news source for overseas readers stated that ethnic minorities comprised 41 percent of cadres in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 25 percent of cadres in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and 51 percent of cadres in the XUAR. According to a July 2012 article from the official Xinhua News Agency, 32 percent of cadres in Yunnan Province were members of an ethnic minority. A June 5 government report stated that, of the 296 civil servants Guangxi Province recruited in 2012, almost 60 percent were ethnic minorities. During the year all five of the country’s ethnic minority autonomous regions had chairmen (equivalent to the governor of a province) from minority groups. The CCP secretaries of these five autonomous regions were all Han. Han officials continued to hold the majority of the most powerful CCP and government positions in minority autonomous regions, particularly the XUAR.

The government’s policy to encourage Han Chinese migration into minority areas significantly increased the population of Han in the XUAR. In recent decades the Han-Uighur ratio in the capital of Urumqi reversed from 20/80 to 80/20 and continued to be a source of Uighur resentment. Discriminatory hiring practices gave preference to Han and reduced job prospects for ethnic minorities. According to the 2010 national census, 8.75 million, or 40 percent, of the XUAR’s 21.8 million official residents were Han. Hui, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur, and other ethnic minorities constituted approximately 13 million XUAR residents, or 60 percent of the total population. Official statistics understated the Han population, because they did not count the tens of thousands of Han Chinese who were long-term “temporary workers.” As the government continued to promote Han migration into the XUAR and filled local jobs with domestic migrant labor, local officials coerced young Uighur women to participate in a government-sponsored labor transfer program to cities outside the XUAR, according to overseas human rights organizations.

The XUAR government took measures to dilute expressions of Uighur identity, including reducing the use of ethnic minority languages in XUAR schools and instituting Mandarin Chinese language requirements that disadvantaged ethnic-minority teachers. The government continued to apply policies that prioritized standard Chinese for instruction in school, thereby reducing or eliminating ethnic-language instruction. The dominant use of Mandarin Chinese in government, commerce, and academia disadvantaged graduates of minority-language schools who lacked Mandarin Chinese proficiency.

Authorities continued to implement repressive policies in the XUAR and targeted the region’s ethnic Uighur population. Officials in the XUAR continued to implement a pledge to crack down on the government-designated “three forces” of religious extremism, “splittism,” and terrorism, and they outlined efforts to launch a concentrated antiseparatist re-education campaign. Some raids, detentions, and judicial punishments ostensibly directed at individuals or organizations suspected of promoting the “three forces” appeared to be targeted at groups or individuals peacefully seeking to express their political or religious views. The government continued to repress Uighurs expressing peaceful political dissent and independent Muslim religious leaders, often citing counterterrorism as the reason for taking action.

According to the 2013 China Law Yearbook, authorities in 2012 arrested 1,105 individuals for “endangering state security,” a 19 percent increase from 2011. The NGO Dui Hua estimated that arrests from Xinjiang accounted for 75 percent of “endangering state security” charges.

Uighurs continued to be sentenced to long prison terms, and in some cases executed without due process, on charges of separatism and endangering state security. The government pressured foreign countries to repatriate Uighurs, who faced the risk of imprisonment and mistreatment upon return. Some Uighurs refouled to China have simply disappeared.

Freedom of assembly was severely limited during the year in the XUAR. For information about violations of religious freedom in Xinjiang, please see the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/.

Reportedly at year’s end one son of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Conference, whom the government blamed for orchestrating the 2009 riots in Urumqi, remained in prison.

Possession of publications or audiovisual materials discussing independence, autonomy, or other sensitive subjects was not permitted. Uighurs who remained in prison at year’s end for their peaceful expression of ideas the government found objectionable included Abduhelil Zunun. Reportedly, Uighur poet Nurmuhemmet Yasin, originally imprisoned in 2005, died in prison in 2011.

XUAR and national-level officials defended the campaign against the three forces of religious extremism, “splittism,” and terrorism and other policies as necessary to maintain public order. Officials continued to use the threat of violence as justification for extreme security measures directed at the local population, journalists, and visiting foreigners.

The law criminalizes discussion of separatism on the internet and prohibits use of the internet in any way that undermines national unity. It further bans inciting ethnic separatism or “harming social stability,” and requires internet service providers and network operators to set up monitoring systems or to strengthen existing ones and report violations of the law.

Han control of the region’s political and economic institutions also contributed to heightened tension. Although government policies continued to allot economic investment in and brought economic improvements to the XUAR, Han residents received a disproportionate share of the benefits. Job advertisements often made clear that Uighur applicants would not be considered.

Reuters News Agency reported that in November police used electric batons to prevent approximately 100 ethnic Mongols from attending the trial of six nomadic herders charged with sabotaging production and intentionally destroying property. Authorities arrested the six herders in June after a confrontation with employees of a state-owned forestry company. Protests against land seizures occurred throughout the year across the IMAR, resulting in detentions and police abuse, as the regional government sought to implement Beijing’s policy of resettling China’s nomadic population.

(For specific information on Tibet, see the Tibet Annex.)

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No laws criminalize private consensual same-sex activities between adults. Due to societal discrimination and pressure to conform to family expectations, most gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons refrained from publicly discussing their sexual orientation. Individual activists and organizations working on LGBT problems continued to report discrimination and harassment from authorities, similar to other organizations that accept funding from overseas.

In June 2012 the Beijing LGBT center was notified by property management that its lease would be terminated early due to complaints that it was too noisy. Neighbors reportedly pressured management to terminate the lease after learning that it was an LGBT organization. The center was able to recoup only less than one-half of its investment of RMB 11,000 ($1,800) for the move.

In September organizers of the China Charity Fair in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, told two gay rights advocacy groups that they could not display their advertisements and informational brochures because they were not registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. One of the advocacy groups attempting to participate reported that his organization unsuccessfully sought to register with the ministry for several years, despite making dozens of visits to local government offices.

In contrast with 2012, there reportedly was no government interference with the seventh Beijing Queer Film Festival. Organizers kept a low profile.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

The law prohibits discrimination against persons carrying infectious diseases and allows such persons to work as civil servants. The law does not address some common types of discrimination in employment, including discrimination based on height, physical appearance, or ethnic identity.

Despite provisions in the law, discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B carriers (including 20 million chronic carriers) remained widespread in many areas, and local governments sometimes tried to suppress their activities. In August 2012 a man who was refused employment after it was discovered he had hepatitis was awarded RMB 8,000 ($1,310) in damages by a Xi’an court.

HIV/AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, founder and director of the Beijing-based NGO Aizhixing, remained overseas after leaving the country in 2010. The organization continued to come under pressure from the government.

Western media reported that on May 30, Guangxi activist Ye Haiyan, who advocated for the rights of prostitutes and persons infected with HIV/AIDS, was beaten in her home by a group of 10 police officers before being detained at the local police station in Bobai County.

While in the past, persons with HIV/AIDS were routinely denied admission to hospitals, discrimination was less overt, and some hospitals came up with excuses for not being able to treat them. The hospitals feared that, should the general population find out that they were treating HIV/AIDS patients, patients would choose to go elsewhere. It was common practice for general hospitals to refer patients to specialty hospitals working with infectious diseases

International involvement in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, as well as central government pressure on local governments to respond appropriately, brought improvements in many localities. Some hospitals that previously refused to treat HIV/AIDS patients had active care and treatment programs because domestic and international training programs improved the understanding of local health-care workers and their managers. In Beijing dozens of local community centers encouraged and facilitated HIV/AIDS support groups.

In March 2012 Zhejiang Province eliminated its mandatory HIV testing for suspects arrested for drug charges, a move seen as a step in protecting the privacy of the individuals.

On July 1, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region implemented new legislation requiring real name registration for HIV testing and obliging individuals who tested positive inform their spouses.

Despite a 2010 nationwide rule banning mandatory hepatitis B virus tests in job and school admissions applications, 61 percent of state-run companies in 2011 continued to use hepatitis B testing as a part of their preemployment screen.

A 2011 report from a Beijing-based NGO stated that 32 percent of kindergartens surveyed would refuse to enroll children infected with hepatitis B.

In July 2012 a widely used public health website for persons infected with hepatitis was blocked within the country. The website had been blocked two times earlier, in 2007 and 2008. The website’s main goal is to eliminate discrimination of hepatitis carriers and provide a social forum to build awareness of the disease.

In October the Ministry of Commerce posted online for public consultation draft regulations that would ban individuals with AIDS from entering public bathhouses. The draft regulations stipulated a fine of RMB 30,000 ($4,910) for violators and mandated that all spas, hot springs, and bathhouses post anti-HIV/AIDS visitor signs on their premises. At year’s end the draft regulations remained under review.

Section 7. Worker RightsShare    

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law does not provide for freedom of association, and workers are not free to organize or join unions of their own choosing. Independent unions are illegal, workers are not free to organize, and the right to strike is not protected in law.

The Trade Union Law gives the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) control over all union organizations and activities, including enterprise-level unions. The ACFTU is a CCP organ chaired by a member of the Politburo and is tasked to “uphold the leadership of the Communist Party.” The ACFTU and its provincial and local branches continued aggressively to organize new constituent unions and add new members, especially in large, multinational enterprises. According to the ACFTU the total trade union membership reached 280 million during the year, 109 million of whom were rural-urban migrant workers.

The law provides specific legal protections against antiunion discrimination and specifies that union representatives may not be transferred or terminated by enterprise management during their term of office. While there were no publicly available official statistics on the enforcement of these laws, there were periodic domestic media reports of courts awarding monetary compensation for wrongful terminations of union representatives.

The Trade Union Law specifically assigns the ACFTU and affiliated unions the responsibility to “coordinate the labor relations and safeguard the labor rights and interests of the enterprise employees through equal negotiation and collective contract system” and to represent employees in negotiating and signing collective contracts with enterprises or public institutions. The law states that trade union representatives at each level should be elected.

The Labor Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law provides for labor dispute resolution through a three-stage process: mediation between the parties, arbitration by officially designated arbitrators, and litigation. A key article of this law requires employers to consult with labor unions or employee representatives on matters that have a direct bearing on the immediate interests of their workers.

The Labor Contract Law provides that labor unions “shall assist and direct the employees” in establishing “a collective negotiation mechanism” and that collective contracts can include “matters of remuneration, working hours, breaks, vacations, work safety and hygiene, insurance, benefits, etc.” It further provides that there may be industrial or regional collective contracts “in industries such as construction, mining, catering services, etc. in the regions at or below the county level.”

The labor law allows for collective bargaining for workers in all types of enterprises, and collective contract regulations provide protections against discrimination and unfair dismissal for employee representatives during collective consultations. Regulations require a union to gather input from workers prior to consultation with management and to submit collective contracts to workers or their congress for approval. There is no legal obligation for employers to negotiate, and some employers refused to do so.

If collective bargaining negotiations do begin, there is no requirement for employers to bargain in good faith. If no agreement is reached, the employer does not have a right to lock out the workers, and the workers do not have a right to strike. While work stoppages are not expressly prohibited in law and it is not illegal for workers to strike spontaneously, Article 53 of the constitution has been interpreted as a ban on labor strikes by obligating all citizens to “observe labor discipline and public order.”

Although the ACFTU, especially at provincial levels, often played an important role in advocacy for improved labor protections during 2012, this activism stalled during the year, in part due to a lack of clear direction from the Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang administration. During the ACFTU’s 16th National Congress in October, high-level officials called on participants to improve the lives of workers through proactive employment policies, a better social safety net, and attention to safety in the workplace. They noted the need for both increased government enforcement and supervision and responsibility by trade unions and the public.

In November the CCP concluded a high-level meeting by issuing a resolution that outlined reforms with the potential to affect freedom of association and collective bargaining, including expanding the use of employees’ representative committees and innovating channels for workers to make appeals. The role of the ACFTU in a strike is primarily limited to involvement in investigations and assistance to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in resolving disputes.

ACFTU constituent unions were generally ineffective in representing and protecting the rights and interests of workers. This was particularly true in the case of migrant workers, who generally have less interaction with the ACFTU, who tend to work in foreign-invested enterprises, and for whom, especially among second-generation migrant workers, expectations of working conditions have increased. The ACFTU and the CCP maintain a variety of mechanisms to influence the selection of trade union representatives. Although the law states that trade union officers at each level should be elected, most factory-level officers were appointed by ACFTU-affiliated unions, often in coordination with employers, and were drawn largely from the ranks of management. Direct election by workers of union leaders continued to be rare, occurred only at the enterprise level, and was subject to supervision by higher levels of the union or the CCP. In enterprises where direct election of union officers took place, regional ACFTU officers and local CCP authorities retained control over the selection and approval of candidates. Even in these cases, workers and NGOs expressed concern about the sustainability of elections and the knowledge and capacity of elected union officials who often lacked collective bargaining skills.

In March 2012 the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Apple drafted an action plan for remediation at Foxconn supplier facilities. A key component of this action plan was the establishment of union elections. In its final report the FLA verified that no workplace elections had been conducted in the three facilities (Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu) since the beginning of the year.

In a joint open letter to the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) in October, a group of students from nine universities in China outlined their findings in five Shenzhen factories at which the SFTU had purportedly adopted direct elections. While the elections did occur in many cases, the students found that trade union committees were still composed of members of company management. They also found that the union continued to fail to protect workers from basic labor law violations.

Many autonomous regions and municipalities enacted local rules allowing collective wage negotiation, and some limited form of collective bargaining was more or less compulsory in 25 of 31 provinces, according to the ACFTU. The Guangdong provincial government guidelines on enterprise collective wage bargaining require employers to give employee representatives information regarding a company’s operations, including employee pay and benefits, to be used in wage bargaining. The guidelines also allow the local labor bureau, if requested by the employees and employers, to act as a mediator to help determine wage increases.

Despite the Labor Contract Law’s provisions for collective consultation related to common areas of dispute such as wages, hours, days off, and benefits, noncompliance with this provision, even at the minimum levels required by law, was common. Instead, tactics used by management included forcing employees to sign blank contracts and failing to provide workers a copy of their contract. Lack of government resources also undermined effective implementation and enforcement of the Labor Contract Law.

The number of labor disputes nationwide continued to rise as workers’ awareness of the laws increased. According to figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, as of September 2012, there were more than 3,000 labor arbitration units and 25,000 labor arbitrators. Through 2011 the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security handled 1.3 million “labor and personnel disputes.” Of these, 589,000 were registered arbitration cases, of which 93.9 percent were resolved. Most formal dispute resolution continued to occur between individual workers and employers, rather than managing collective disputes. The relevant regulations and rules address predominantly rights-based, rather than interest-based, disputes.

Strikes primarily continued to be resolved directly between workers and management without the involvement of the ACFTU or its constituent local trade unions. In order to avoid strikes or address minor labor relations disputes, factory management continued to prefer to engage directly with workers via labor-management committees, rather than through the legally approved ACFTU-affiliated trade union. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security voiced support for the expansion and establishment of labor-management committees throughout all enterprises. Labor NGOs often provided information, training, and legal support to workers on collective bargaining and dispute resolution, in lieu of effective support by the ACFTU.

There continued to be reports of workers throughout the country engaging in strikes, work stoppages, and other protest actions. Although the government restricted the release of figures for the number of strikes and protests each year, the frequency of “spontaneous” strikes remained high, especially in Shenzhen and other areas with developed labor markets and large pools of sophisticated, rights-conscious workers. Local government responses to strikes varied, with some jurisdictions showing tolerance for strikes while others continued to treat worker protests as illegal demonstrations.

In January, Hong Kong media reported that thousands of workers from the Panzhihua Iron and Steel Group in Chengdu took to the streets to demand wage increases. Authorities deployed 1,000 police to suppress the march and to disperse the crowd after a confrontation with the protesters. On November 7, police dispersed 200 striking workers at a Dongguan toy factory. Reports indicated that authorities beat and arrested numerous workers.

Workers engaged in collective action for a number of reasons. In many cases striking workers called attention to wage arrears, insufficient pay, and poor working conditions. New areas of disputes included factory closure or relocation, severance pay and other compensation, and benefits such as pensions. Although a large number of the major strikes reported in the media occurred in the Pearl River Delta, labor unrest was widespread throughout the country. Small-scale worker protests and strikes regularly occurred in Shanghai and Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui provinces.

Workers increasingly went on strike to demand payment of past wages, as an economic downturn led to diminishing profits, more factory closures, and abandoned construction projects. On March 6, nearly 1,000 workers at an electronics factory in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, protested and blocked roads over compensation problems.

Strikes also occurred in an increasingly broad range of sectors. While many strikes occurred in manufacturing, reports increased of strikes in the transport, sanitation, and service industries similarly stemming from failure to gain adequate compensation. In August a hospital in Guangzhou attempted to impose a management-dictated settlement for unpaid overtime on a group of hospital security guards. Despite threats of dismissal, the guards went on strike. Management refused to negotiate with the guards, and local authorities detained them for staging an illegal demonstration.

In August an estimated 3,000 workers at a toy factory in Shenzhen conducted a solidarity strike in support of 551 long-term migrant workers also at the factory. Despite having employed the workers for well over the 15 years required for pension eligibility, the company had failed to make mandatory contributions to their pension funds prior to 2008. Facing retirement, these workers were not able to claim the pensions to which they were entitled.

In May informally elected workers’ representatives at Shenzhen Diweixin furniture factory led a protest against their employers over the company’s refusal to discuss compensation for a planned relocation. On May 23, authorities detained worker leader Wu Guijun after protracted strikes and petitions to the city government to intervene in fruitless negotiations. According to independent labor organizations, Wu was formally charged with “assembling a crowd to disturb social order” on September 28, but later reports indicated that the procuratorate refused to accept the charges due to lack of evidence and sent the case back to the public security officials for further investigation. Wu remained in detention as of year’s end.

Other labor activists detained in previous years reportedly remained in detention at year’s end, including Chen Yong, Kong Youping, Liu Jian, Liu Jianjun, Memet Turghun Abdulla, Wang Miaogen, Xing Shiku, Zhou Decai, Zhu Chengzhi, and Zhu Fangming.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced and compulsory labor, but there were reports that forced labor of adults and children occurred (see section 7.c.).

There were reports that employers withheld wages or required unskilled workers to deposit several months’ wages as security against the workers departing early from their labor contracts. These practices often prevented workers from exercising their right to leave their employment and made them vulnerable to forced labor. Implementation of amended labor laws, along with workers’ increased knowledge of their rights under these new laws, continued to reduce these practices.

International NGOs alleged that provincial and local governments were complicit in some cases of forced labor of university students as “interns” at facilities managed by the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn. Local governments, in order to encourage Foxconn to establish operations in their cities, promised to help recruit workers for Foxconn’s labor-intensive operations. In September the media reported that students in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces complained that their universities made it mandatory that they serve 45-day internships on assembly lines in Foxconn factories to meet Foxconn’s production demands. A December 12 FLA report of Foxconn facilities in Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu indicated that no student interns had been employed at those sites during the year.

Forced labor in penal institutions remained a serious problem, according to the International Trade Union Confederation. Many prisoners and detainees were required to work, often with no remuneration. Compulsory labor of detainees in RTL facilities, who had not been tried and convicted in a competent court, also constituted forced labor.

In both cases detainees reportedly experienced harsh and exploitative conditions of work, including long periods without a rest day and often working more than 10, and sometimes 12 or 14, hours per day to meet informal “quotas” imposed by facility management. Detainees who did not meet their quota were threatened with physical violence and other forms of punishment.

In addition there were credible allegations that prisoners were forced to work for private production facilities associated with prisons. These facilities often operated under two different names, a prison name and a commercial enterprise name. No effective mechanism prevented the export of goods made under such conditions. Goods and materials likely to be produced by forced labor included toys, garments and textiles, electronics, bricks, and coal.

The Ministry of Justice discussed allegations of exported prison-labor goods with foreign government officials, but information about prisons, including associated labor camps and factories, was tightly controlled. Although the ministry has official control over the RTL system, police and other local authorities had a great degree of influence on a case-by-case basis.

In November 2012 a Chongqing court rejected the wrongful imprisonment suit brought by Ren Jianyu, who had been released from an RTL center one year into his two-year sentence for “incitement to subvert state power” for posting online statements critical of the political system. In July, Ren submitted an application to the Chongqing RTL committee requesting compensation totaling RMB 167,762 ($27,440) to cover the wages he lost while in the camp and the psychological harm he suffered.

After the Standing Committee of the NPC voted to abolish the RTL system in December (see section 1.d.), media and NGO reports indicated that many of the RTL facilities were converted to drug rehabilitation centers or prisons. It is not clear whether forced labor continued in these facilities.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16. It refers to workers between the ages of 16 and 18 as “juvenile workers” and prohibits them from engaging in certain forms of dangerous work, including in mines.

The law specifies administrative review, fines, and revocation of business licenses of those businesses that illegally hired minors and provides that underage children found working should be returned to their parents or other custodians in their original place of residence. The penalty for employing children under 16 in hazardous labor or for excessively long hours ranges from three to seven years’ imprisonment, but a significant gap remained between legislation and implementation.

Child labor remained a problem. Print media and online reports most frequently documented the use of child labor in the electronics manufacturing industry, although many reports indicated it occurred in a number of sectors.

The government does not publish statistics on the extent of child labor, but rising wages and a tightening labor market led some companies to seek to hire underage workers in violation of the law. Some local authorities also ignored the practice of child labor or even facilitated it to prevent employers from moving to other areas.

Reports of child labor persisted in areas suffering from labor shortages and in smaller enterprises that compensated workers on a piece-rate basis. For example, in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, a manufacturing hub hit hard by labor shortages and rising wages, local employers admitted that the use of child labor on a temporary basis was common. Although Dongguan Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security statistics showed an increase in child labor cases, the bureau did not have sufficient resources to increase enforcement operations among the thousands of small enterprises operating in the area.

In May a 14-year-old boy working at an electronics factory in Dongguan died suddenly in the factory dormitory. The boy used a false identity card to gain employment, and local officials cited the company for violating child labor laws.

In an open letter to the Guangdong Province Communist Party secretary posted on the internet, the mother of a 15-year-old boy from Henan, burned badly in 2012 while working in a Zhuhai electronics factory, appealed for help in obtaining compensation for the injury. The employer had refused to pay both the compensation sought by the family and the award subsequently determined by the labor arbitration board. Provincial authorities fined the employer and urged the local labor bureau to expedite the case, but compensation for the injury was still pending at year’s end.

On December 27, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported that approximately 70 underage workers were discovered working at an electronics company in Shenzhen’s Baoan District. The alleged underage workers were all from the Yi ethnic minority group, and all were from a remote mountainous region of Liangshan, Sichuan Province, the origin of several recent child-labor trafficking cases. This followed incidents in 2011 and 2008 involving underage workers from the same region. Although in each instance local labor authorities intervened after the Southern Metropolis Daily notified them of the underage workers, the three similar cases reflect a systemic inability to deter trafficking of underage workers or to identify child labor through regular labor inspections. In the most recent case the Shenzhen company posted a notice on its website blaming the company’s labor dispatch service provider for providing worker identity cards purporting to show all of them to be older than age 16.

Abuse of the student-worker system continued as well. One international labor NGO reported that most students working in domestic companies in the supply chains of multinational electronics manufacturers, where there was greater scrutiny, did not have the formal written contracts required by law. After an internal audit, one multinational electronics company admitted it had violated the labor law after interns between the ages of 14 and 16 were discovered working at its subsidiary in Yantai, Shandong Province.

As in past years, there continued to be allegations that schools and local officials improperly facilitated the supply of student laborers. Some reports indicated that schools supplied factories with illegal child labor under the pretext of vocational training, in some cases making this labor compulsory for the student.

d. Acceptable Conditions of Work

There was no national minimum wage, but the law requires local and provincial governments to set their own minimum wage according to standards promulgated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Average wage levels continued to increase. Monthly minimum wages varied greatly with Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, reaching RMB 1,600 ($262) from March 1 and towns in remote Ningxia Province the lowest at RMB 750 ($123). During the year the country increased its “rural poverty level” to RMB 192 ($31.40) per month.

The law mandates a 40-hour standard workweek, excluding overtime, and a 24-hour weekly rest period. It also prohibits overtime work in excess of three hours per day or 36 hours per month and mandates premium pay for overtime work.

A regulation states that labor and social security bureaus at or above the county level are responsible for enforcement of labor law. The law also provides that where the ACFTU finds an employer in violation of the regulation, it shall have the power to demand that the relevant local labor bureaus deal with the case.

Many vulnerable workers, including those older workers laid off as a result of restructuring of state-owned enterprise, as well as many rural-urban migrants, were employed in the informal economy. In 2012 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ researchers estimated that the prevalence of informal employment ranged from 20 to 37 percent overall, based on the definition used, with between 45 and 65 percent of migrants employed in the informal sector. UN experts reported that women were particularly active in the informal economy, often as domestic workers or petty entrepreneurs. Micro- and small businesses with fewer than seven employees also meet the international criteria for informality. Workers in the informal sector often lacked coverage under labor contracts, and even with contracts migrant workers in particular had less access to benefits, especially social insurance. Workers in the informal sector worked longer hours and earned one-half to two-thirds as much as comparable workers in the formal sector.

The State Administration for Work Safety (SAWS) sets and enforces occupational health and safety regulations. The Law on Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases requires employers to provide free health checkups for employees working in hazardous conditions and to inform them of the results. Companies that violate the regulation have their operations suspended or are deprived of business certificates and licenses.

Effective May 2012 the SAWS and the Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Measures on Incentives for Safe Production Reporting, which authorize cash rewards to whistleblowers reporting companies for violations, such as concealing workplace accidents, operating without proper licensing, operating unsafe equipment, or failing to provide workers with adequate safety training. The measures warn against false accusations but also stipulate protection under the law for legitimate whistleblowers who report violations.

While many labor laws and regulations on worker safety were fully compatible with international standards, implementation and enforcement were generally poor due to a lack of adequate resources. Compliance with the law was weak, and standards were regularly violated. While excessive overtime occurred, in many cases workers encouraged noncompliance by requesting greater amounts of overtime to counterbalance low base wages and increase their overall wages. Inadequately enforced labor laws, occupational health and safety laws, and regulations continued to put workers’ livelihoods, health, and safety at risk.

Almost all local and provincial governments raised minimum wage levels significantly during the year as a result of changing economic and demographic conditions. As the average tenure of workers in the Pearl River Delta increased, their skills improved, adding more upward pressure on wages. Spot shortages of skilled labor, increased inland investment, and successful strikes led to generally increased wage levels for workers in all parts of the country.

Nonpayment of wages remained a problem in many areas. Governments at various levels continued efforts to prevent arrears and to recover payment of unpaid wages and insurance contributions. It remained possible for companies to relocate or close on short notice, often leaving employees without adequate recourse for due compensation. In some extreme cases, workers who feared that they would be deprived of adequate compensation or severance engaged in actions such as taking managers hostage.

Although creative strategies by some multinational purchasers provided new approaches to reducing the incidence of labor violations in supplier factories, insufficient government oversight of both foreign affiliated and purely domestic supplier factories continued to contribute to poor working conditions. Questions related to acceptable working conditions, especially overtime, continued to plague electronics manufacturers such as Foxconn.

On December 12, the FLA released the third and final verification report on conditions at Foxconn facilities in China, tracking progress on that action plan through July 1. The report documented that nearly 100 percent of all actions recommended by the FLA had been completed at three key facilities in Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu, resulting in clear changes in company policy. Nonetheless, FLA assessors documented numerous violations of domestic law. While some workers received an average of one day off per week, others went for a month or more without these breaks. In some cases workers worked more than 60 hours per week, and for a six-month period, more than one-half of the workers in the Longhua and Guanlan facilities exceeded the legal overtime limit of 36 hours per month. In Chengdu from July to October more than 75 percent of workers exceeded this limit.

Although SAWS reported that the rate of industrial accidents continued to decline, there were several high-profile instances of industrial accidents. On June 3, a total of 121 workers died in a fire that swept through a poultry-processing plant in the northeastern province of Jilin. In that incident most of the exits at the plant had been locked from outside, and none of the 395 employees working at the time had received fire safety training. SAWS responded by dispatching teams to assess safety standards at factories. Although inspections routinely identified existing problems that increased the risk of industrial accidents, ensuring that companies acted on the findings of the inspections remained a challenge.

Authorities continued to press mines to improve safety measures and mandated greater investments in safety. In August 2012 SAWS announced its goal of closing hundreds of small coal mines during the year in an attempt to reduce the number of deadly accidents.

Despite consistent reductions in mining deaths, there continued to be many coalmine accidents throughout the country.

In Jilin Province, gas explosions at coalmines on March 29 and April 1 killed 53 workers. An third explosion on April 21, also in Jilin, killed 18 workers – despite an order for all coal mines in the province to suspend operations and undergo safety inspections following the earlier two explosions.

ACFTU occupational disease experts estimated that 200 million workers worked in hazardous environments. According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only an estimated 10 percent of eligible employees received regular occupational health services. Small- and medium-sized enterprises, the largest employers, often failed to provide the required health services. They also did not provide proper safety equipment that could help prevent disease, and were rarely required to pay compensation to victims and their families. Instances of pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, remained high. A charitable NGO that helped to treat migrant workers estimated the disease affected approximately six million rural residents.

 



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