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China: Authoritarian Rule at Home, Threat to Human Rights Abroad (corrected and updated version)

March 22, 2018 by admin

Note: Below is a corrected version of the HRIC Statement, “China: Authoritarian Rule at Home, Threat to Human Rights Abroad,” which we sent out yesterday, March 11, 2018.

Note: Below is a corrected version of the HRIC Statement, “China: Authoritarian Rule at Home, Threat to Human Rights Abroad,” which we sent out yesterday, March 11, 2018.
In yesterday’s version, we mischaracterized the authorities’ action against the popular community Q&A platform Zhihu. The authorities ordered the removal of the Zhihu app from app stores for seven days (but did not shut down its website).

China: Authoritarian Rule at Home, Threat to Human Rights Abroad (corrected and updated version)
HRIC Statement
March 11, 2018
This statement is available online: https://www.hrichina.org/en/node/21216
In a near-unanimous vote on March 11, the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, passed the proposed 21 amendments to the Chinese constitution. Among the most consequential are the removal of the two-term limit on the presidency and vice-presidency (Art. 79), and the relocation of the assertion of the political supremacy of the Communist Party of China from the Preamble to the text of the constitution (Art. 1). These amendments enable President Xi Jinping to serve for life with unfettered power and make the absolute rule of the CPC over China a constitutional imperative. (The secret ballot vote was 2,958 for, 2 against, 3 abstained, 1 invalidated.)
“The constitutional amendments are a devastating move backward for China as a nation. Instead of providing ‘a powerful constitutional safeguard to national rejuvenation’ (为民族复兴提供有力宪法保障), as the state-run People’s Daily trumpeted, the amendments are also pushing China further toward a dangerous future,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. “Ending the two-term limit ignores the painful lesson of the Mao era and exposes the Chinese people again to the massive human suffering, abuses, and national catastrophe that could result from unaccountable power concentrated in the hands of one person.”
“And as China aggressively attempts to export its model of ‘human rights with Chinese characteristics,’ the attempted legitimation of a dictatorship wrapped in domestic law poses a steepened threat to the integrity and effectiveness of the international human rights system. Instead of China’s win-win strategy of political cooperation, failure to effectively address this threat will result in a lose-lose for everyone,” said Hom.
Two-term limit and the Reform era
In the late 1970s, Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader after Mao, initiated the Reform and Opening Up era that has focused primarily on economic reform. That new era has raised the standard of living and social mobility for many, especially in urban areas. It has also raised the hope among the people—especially among the middle class and the younger generation—that perhaps genuine progress toward greater political liberalization would also come soon to China. (Read full statement.)

Related Resources
• Gao Wenqian, Sino-U.S. Relations: Engagement or Hostility?, February 12, 2018.
• Sharon Hom, The 14 ‘Upholds’ of China’s ‘New Era’ of Socialism Have Something Missing: Human Rights, October 29, 2017.
• The China Challenge to International Human Rights: What’s At Stake?, a China UPR mid-term progress assessment, November 2016.
• Sharon Hom, Values and Strategic Narratives in International Human Rights, April 20, 2016.
• China Rights Forum 2010, no. 3 - Engaging Engagement: Conversations and Reflections.

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