Human Rights Promotion (21): Human Rights in China

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human rights promotion

tien an men tank man spoof


We’re close to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre, the right time in other words for a diagnosis of human rights in China. Compared to half a century ago, China is a human rights paradise. Genocide and famine are gone; poverty and totalitarian rule all but. Even the horrific events of 25 years ago pale in historical perspective. However, compared to what can be expected from a reasonably prosperous country ruled by a state with above average capacities, China is a disappointment. It’s undeniable economic progress hasn’t been matched by political or legal progress. Just a few examples:

  • China’s demographic aggression in Tibet and Xinjiang has put the local cultures and populations under severe pressure.
  • China’s demographic politics in general, in particular the one-child-policy, has led to many sex-selective abortions. The result has been called “gendercide“.
  • Censorship of the press and the internet is widespread.
  • The Chinese government insists that there are good economic reasons to reject democratic rights. Not just the right to vote freely for independent candidates, but also rights such as free speech, freedom of organization and freedom of religion. The government views stability – in the sense of the continued rule of the Communist Party – as the precondition for further economic development, whereas it’s obvious from the data that democracy fosters prosperity just as well, if not more.
  • China executes far more people than all other countries combined, for far more types of crimes.

Besides the domestic violations of rights, China is also known for obstructing international action against dictators in other countries.

More posts in this series are here.


  1. China and the Republic of India were at a level in 1949. By the time Mao died, China was already well ahead, with a higher GDP per head and much longer life expectancy.

    (For death rates, go to the relevant United Nations site, and enter “Crude Death Rate” or “life expectancy”. Do this for China, India, Indonesia etc. For GDP, see The World Economy: Historical Statistics by Angus Maddison for the economics..)

    And while Chinese attitudes to women are imperfect, they are a lot better than India and rape is much less common.

  2. my main issue with China is the obstruction of sanctions and other means of international influence to tackle gross human rights violation in north korea.

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