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China Daily Website

Fabricated picture can’t hide the truth

Updated: 2013-02-21 19:39
By Shan Chu ( China Daily)

New York-based Human Rights Watch recently released its annual World Human Rights Report, in which it habitually points an accusing finger at other countries’ human rights records.

As a Chinese scholar of human rights studies, I have to express my observations about the report’s allegations against China.

First, the report still takes an outdated and biased approach to judge human rights records and makes comments that are beyond reality.

For instance, it continues to claim that China’s household registration, or hukou, system, denies migrant workers’ children the chance of a decent education. However, a regulation introduced in 2003 already allows the children of migrant workers to receive nine-year compulsory education in cities where their parents work.

Moreover, since last year, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and other major Chinese provinces and municipalities have launched education reforms that allow migrant workers’ children to enter senior high schools and take local college entrance exams.

There is no denying that the hukou system is not perfect, but we are working hard to make it better.

Numerous measures have been put into place and many restrictions have been lifted in recent decades. People now enjoy much wider freedom of movement than before.

Human Rights Watch seems to like taking an old-fashioned approach to view a dynamic society undergoing great changes. The criticism of the hukou system is just a case in point.

Second, the report fails to take China’s national conditions and policies into consideration.

Take freedom of religion for example. The report pays a great deal of attention to “house churches”, but it should be fully aware that China’s laws clearly stipulate that every religious group in China needs to be legally registered, a normal practice in many countries.

Since these so-called house churches have not applied to be registered, they simply have no lawful status. The Chinese Constitution and laws provide Chinese citizens with full guarantees for freedom of religious belief. And the country’s economic boom and social progress have provided further space for religious worship. The growing number of religious believers is clear evidence of greater religious freedom in China.

No one can make a fair judgment of a country’s human rights situation without considering its particular conditions. Neither should Human Rights Watch view China’s situation using one-sided standards.

Third, the report turns a blind eye to China’s progress as a whole by focusing on a few areas.

Take employment for the disabled for example. The government has adopted a series of preferential policies such as tax benefits to guarantee disabled people’s employment rights. Over the past five years, China has provided new job opportunities for about 1.8 million disabled people in the country’s urban areas and safeguarded the livelihoods of more than 6.1 million rural impoverished people with disabilities. China is aiming to add another 1 million disabled people to its working population by 2015, and further popularize career services and vocational training among the disabled.

There may have been cases of discrimination in the private sector, but these are not the norm and do not represent the whole picture of China’s endeavor.

Human Rights Watch will inevitably lose sight of the woods for the trees if it refuses to adopt a balanced and comprehensive view.

Human Rights Watch regards itself as an advocate and guardian of human rights around the world. However, by failing to make objective evaluations of a country’s general human rights situation and by failing to provide feasible suggestions to the countries concerned, it is merely fabricating stories and making noises.

Furthermore, it is obsessed with ideological prejudice, labeling China as an “authoritarian” state where the human rights environment “steadily deteriorates”. However, facts speak louder than words and lies will collapse by themselves. Fabricating such reports cannot fool the world and blind people to the tremendous progress China has made.

The author is a Beijing-based scholar of international relations.