China’s current crackdown on human rights and civil liberties is the “most severe” since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the Human Rights Watch agency has claimed.
“China’s crackdown on human rights activists is the most severe since the Tiananmen Square democracy movement 25 years ago,” said Kenneth Roth, director of the agency Human Rights Watch agency on Tuesday. In the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Chinese government slaughtered hundreds of peaceful opposition protesters while attempting to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
“What’s less appreciated is the lengths to which China goes to prevent criticism of that record of oppression by people outside China, particularly those at the United Nations,” Roth continued. “The stakes are not simply human rights for the one-sixth of the world’s population who live in China, but also the survival and effectiveness of the U.N. human rights system for everyone around the globe.”
Roth added that the findings should serve as a “wake-up call” for the international community.
The report highlighted many of China’s most prominent human rights abuses, including the prevention of opposition activists leaving the country to attend U.N summits, as well as the failure to allow human rights officials to visit the country.
It also details China’s alignment with other dictatorships at the United Nations Human Rights Council, including Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela, where the countries have “worked together to weaken the universality of human rights standards and resist the Council’s ability to adopt country-specific approaches.”
The report also alleged that China has routinely withheld information relating to their use of torture, treatment of the disabled, and children’s rights, and has tried to prevent any evidence of such practices from appearing online.
Meanwhile, Chinese foreign affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang, dismissed the report as “groundless,” contending that China continues to play an “active role” in the United Nations human rights efforts.
“We urge the relevant organization to remove their tinted lenses and objectively and justly view China’s human rights development,” he said.
In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has also enforced a crackdown on freedom of expression, with criticism of the government remaining strictly illegal, as part of former leader Hu Jintao’s vision of the “promotion of a harmonious society.”
Censorship of both the press and social media is also rampant, although many people in China are finding ways around the censorship by dodging what is known as the ‘Great Firewall,’ which selectively blocks content chosen by the government. Blocked sites include Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as the websites of most western news organizations.