Human Rights Violations: America Versus China

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Human Rights Violations: America versus China
Submitted By: James Allan

Every year, the American government publishes its report on China’s human-rights record as part of the United States' Country Reports on Human Rights Practices— prompting a Chinese response in its own critique of U.S Human rights, informally known as the China Human Rights Report.(Chan Lecture Human Rights April 8) Both countries, as might be expected, find plenty wrong with each other. However, this ping-pong-like war of words cannot hide the fact that both countries based on their sheer size(population and geographical area) and strength have arguably been the two greatest violators of human rights in the world in the past twenty-five years. With that, This essay will argue that the People’s Republic of China, due in part to ensuring the continuing survival of the ruling party regime has been a greater violator of human rights within its own borders due to restrictions on the freedom of press, religion, speech and other domestic human rights violations. However, this essay will also make an additional argument that the United States, particularly after the September 11th attacks has through its military aggression, the ‘war on terror’ campaign and the appalling treatment of enemy combatants and citizens been a greater violator of human rights on an international scale. Since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the People’s Republic of China (will henceforth simply be known as China) has undergone a profound cultural, economic and social transformation. Since China’s official transformation from the Maoist planned economy to the socialist market economy. Over 150 million people have been lifted out of poverty due to China’s burgeoning economy and the quality of life has been improved for hundreds of millions more.(Chan Lecture April 8) However, this growth has come at the expense of an innumerable amount of gross human rights violations committed by the Chinese Communist Party, which continues to rule with an iron fist. Despite government reports which have attempted to cast China’s human rights record in the best possible way and the ratification of over 20 human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. There is a major gap between official policy and actual practice with respect to the protection of personal integrity rights and civil political rights which cannot be denied. (Chan Lecture Human Rights April 8) To understand the anxieties that the party has with regards to a potential loss of control, one must recall that in 1989, the communist dynasty almost ended in its fortieth year. For more than six weeks, millions of students demonstrated for democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and 132 other cities in every Chinese province. (Shirk 35) The demonstrations finally came to an end after the People's Liberation Army under the orders of the Politburo (the 24-man committee who oversee the Communist Party of China), opened fire on student protestors in order to clear the square. Although the event was widely condemned internationally, especially since the event was broadcast live to foreign viewers. Internally, the events of June 4th split the Communist Party leadership over how to deal with the demonstrations, and the People’s Republic just barely survived. (Shirk 36) In spite of both international and domestic outrage the party bore. The Chinese Communist Party was able to remain in power through the rescission of freedoms it granted in the early 80’s, as well as the re-establishment of firm control over the press, publishing, and mass media. Since then, Chinese society has returned to pre- tiananmen levels with regards to many freedoms and lack of censorship on non-political topics (eg: pornography). However, the events of Tiananmen have instilled a permanent fear of sudden regime collapse within the party. A fear which is responsible for the Chinese government’s various human...
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