Human rights improved in 2013: China

Beijing : The Chinese government Monday published its annual report on human rights in which it highlights the development of rights and freedoms in 2013.

It attributed this development to investments that led to employment growth or the reduction of poverty.

The report, however, did not address human rights complaints.

In the “White Book on Human Rights”, China says that the stability of the Chinese economy guaranteed “the development of the rights of the population”.

This it did by creating around 13.1 million jobs in 2013 in urban areas – 3.5 percent more than in 2012 – although it admitted that there is still some way to go.

The 16-page document published entirely by the official agency Xinhua, also pointed out that about 16.5 million rural citizens moved out of poverty in 2013, or that the social security system was improved, although it is still “rudimentary”.

The lack of a response to the complaints has yet again drawn criticism from human rights organisations which say that the Chinese government is not describing the actual situation.

“The White Book on Human Rights, despite being full of numbers, deliberately misleads about the situation of fundamental freedoms in China,” Maya Wang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, told Efe.

According to Wang, the Chinese regime omits the numerous restrictions and human rights violations that occur in the country, and, in its place, “brings out irrelevant information about the topic in question to prove that it has made improvements”.

The authorities emphasise the increase in the retirement pensions although they do not reveal the number of citizens receiving these pensions.

They also state that more than 90 percent of the population has basic health coverage.

On the other hand, the number of people with unemployment benefits in China has grown till 164.17 million while compensation for accidents at workplace has gone up by 4.8 percent and maternity benefit by 6.2 percent.

The government stresses that the “democratic system” has been improved, referring to an increase in the the opinions it received on proposed legislation or the anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping.

It also refers to investments in regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang, where ethnic conflicts have been on the rise in recent years.

“The political rights of the ethnic minorities are completely guaranteed,” the text read.

The report also says that there are more than 10,000 schools all over the country offering classes in up to 29 languages of 21 ethnic minorities.

In terms of the freedom of expression, the government extols the internet as one of the platforms that has contributed to the development of this right.

However, it makes no mention of the new rule passed in 2013 which states that any person who posts a “rumour” that is widely disseminated on the internet can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

The trial of former political leader, Bo Xilai, the first important one to be broadcast in China on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, is given as an example of transparency.

Also mentioned is the large number of publications in China, with 48,200 million copies of newspapers or 7,900 million books in 2013, though there is no reference to the censorship to which they are subjected.