Human Rights Violations in China - Should Western Companies Continue to Do Business with China?

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The United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2010) claims that everyone is equally entitled to human rights without discrimination. In the western society, the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights are fundamental rights. However, the People’s Republic of China, commonly known as China, is still known as the largest human rights violator in the world. This raises the question whether or not western companies should continue doing business in China despite of the human rights violations. To find an answer to this question, the human rights violations and the values of the Chinese population will be analysed. Furthermore, the impact of these violations on the business world will be discussed.

Human rights violations in China

China is one of the last five communist states in the world. The People’s Republic of China is led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). They implement heavy restrictions in many human rights areas. The Chinese constitution foresees fundamental rights for all Chinese citizens such as, the freedom of speech, press, religion, etc. However, in reality these fundamental rights are not granted to the Chinese citizens. The human rights violations in china include the lack of political and religious freedom, the censorship of media, the one-child policy, the social status of the Tibetans and the capital punishment. China has made a large evolution in human rights over the past few years, however, severe violations still take place. Although the freedom of religion is stated as a fundamental right in the Chinese constitution, it is restricted. Members of the Communist Party of China are required to be atheist. Violation of this rule can limit their economic prospects. The Chinese government is very intolerant against dissent towards the government. Censorship of media silences any criticism towards the government and members of political rights movements risk being arrested. In 1979, China implemented a one-child policy in order to reduce its burgeoning population level. Datamonitor (2010) concludes that this policy is one of China’s major social strengths reaching the objective of a more stable and much-reduced fertility rate. However, according to Amnesty international and many other human rights activist groups, this policy is a violation of fundamental human rights. Amnesty International (2009) concludes in their annual report of Human rights in People’s Republic of China, that the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 brought heightened repression throughout China. Individuals who peacefully exercised their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association were at high risk of harassment, house arrest, arbitrary detention, and torture and other ill-treatment. The criminal justice system remained under the supervision of the Chinese Communist Party. Despite legal reforms, torture and other ill-treatment continued in prisons, police stations, etc. According to Amnesty International, a minimum of 7,000 death sentences were handed down and 1,700 executions took place. The government maintained strict control on freedom of expression. Addressing politically sensitive topics lead to risk of harassment and imprisonment. Approximately 30 journalists and 50 other individuals remained in prison for posting their views on the internet. (Amnesty International, 2009) Human rights versus Chinese values

Is it fair to compare China to Western countries concerning human rights? “Some people argue that human rights is a Western idea without roots in Asia” (Svensson, 2002). Kent states that before the 1980s, human rights were simply rejected by China. They were seen as Western bourgeois liberal rights and thus irrelevant for the Chinese socialist state. After the 1980s this approach was abandoned. Rather than rejecting human rights, the Chinese government explained why human rights are not of order in China (as cited in Breslin and Taylor, 2008). The cornerstone of the Chinese...
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