The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in China

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#antisemitism #australia #china #china_antisemitism #germany #russia #syria #USA

People's Republic of China

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index76th best
Life Expectancy78.21yrs (2017)2

The concept of Human Rights has not been accepted by the Chinese government. Although outright draconian abuse only exists in terms of censorship and political limitations, there are many areas where human rights are more generically denied. Since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, a "broad and sustained offensive on human rights" has ensued, according to Human Rights Watch's 2017 report3. Forced confessions and televised sham trials were used to harass and silence human rights supporters and "the government also tried to eliminate the country's few independent human rights news websites by jailing their founders"3. The government remains "hostile to women's rights activism" even though "women and girls in China continue to confront sexual abuse and harassment, employment discrimination, and domestic violence"4. China's censorship of Internet access is already one of the most draconian worldwide and these controls were made even stronger in 20173.

China does worse than average in commentary in Human Rights Watch reports5, LGBT equality6, its nominal commitment to Human Rights7 and in freethought8. And finally, it falls into the worst 20 for supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms9 and in supporting press freedom10.

"Foreign governments did little in 2017 to push back against China's worsening rights record at home and abroad"3. China and Russia both worked together to prevent and delay investigations of widespread human rights abuses in Syria by the International Criminal Court11. Australia and Germany both applied some pressure, and although the USA followed suit, their efforts were undermined by their own President Trump's applause of President Xi.

1. China's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Asia (2020)12
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank12
1Hong Kong24.3
21=Sri Lanka94.8
Asia Avg99.9
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)12
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank12
96S. Sudan90.5
World Avg87.9

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark13. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu13.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe13, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia13.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in China stated:

The government continued to stifle criticism of its policies and actions and discussion of topics considered sensitive through increasingly pervasive online censorship. Government critics, human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists and religious leaders and practitioners were among those subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention. Systematic repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet continued. Authorities attempted to prevent the publication of an OHCHR report documenting potential crimes against humanity and other international crimes in Xinjiang. Women continued to endure sexual violence and harassment and other violations of their rights. The Hong Kong government continued its crackdown against the pro-democracy movement. Journalists, broadcasters and book publishers were among those prosecuted and imprisoned under the National Security Law and other repressive legislation, while civil society organizations both in Hong Kong and abroad faced criminal charges or harassment for legitimate activities.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)14

Xi Jinping got away with little resistance to his imposition of the most intense crackdown since the brutal smothering of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement because other nations were afraid to jeopardize lucrative Chinese contracts by standing up for the rights of the Chinese people. [...] China detained its citizens who hoped to engage with United Nations bodies on its rights abuse.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)15

Some commentators are more positive in their outlook, although China since the 2000s has been going backwards:

[In] late nineteenth century [China] Western ideas of political rights... became of considerable interest. Marina Svensson, in Debating Human Rights in China (2003), tells a nuanced story of the Chinese engagement with ideas of rights. ... China came to Western ideas of rights, rather than had them imposed upon them, and they came to those ideas largely as a result of their dissatisfaction with the sufferings of China at the hands of Western state power and the global economy. The concept of human rights was embraced by Chinese writers as useful in their struggle to save China (Svensson 2003: 73). As Svensson emphasizes, national survival rather than the freedom of the individual from an oppressive state was the main preoccupation of early-twentieth-century Chinese advocates of rights (2003: 98).

"Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice" by Jack Donnelly (2013)16

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better5
79=S. Sudan-5
Asia Avg-5.0
World Avg-1.9
China ranks 78th in the world in terms of commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better7
2=Costa Rica23
Asia Avg12.7
World Avg15.1
China is positioned 112nd in the world when it comes to its nominal commitment to Human Rights.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better17
Avg Yrs/Treaty17
80Sierra Leone9.33
Asia Avg10.97
World Avg10.02
Regarding speed of uptake of HR treaties, China is positioned 81st in the world.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better9
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
139Congo, (Brazzaville)139
144=Saudi Arabia144
Asia Avg94.6
World Avg79.7
China is 19th-worst in the world in terms of supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)18

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better10
Asia Avg4378
World Avg3249
China ranks 7th-worst in the world with regard to supporting press freedom.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index19

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Lower is better
% Victims20
58=S. Africa0.28
Asia Avg0.79
World Avg0.65
With regard to eliminating modern slavery, China comes 57th in the world.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory21. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends22. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life23. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves24.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery25. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity26. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.27. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi28, Eritrea28, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

China is on the way towards ending gender inequality.


"The Chinese government remains hostile to women's rights activism. [...] Women and girls in China continue to confront sexual abuse and harassment, employment discrimination, and domestic violence"3. In 2017 "between May and June, Guangzhou police forced five activists from their homes in retaliation for their campaign to raise awareness about sexual harassment on public transportation.3

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
34New Zealand0.16
35Bosnia & Herzegovina0.16
Asia Avg0.36
World Avg0.36
China is positioned 37th in the world with regard to opposing gender inequality.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases
Lower is better
2New Zealand34.434
Asia Avg94.24
World Avg83.93
China ranks 44th in the world with regard to the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators).

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
78Costa Rica1949
79=Bosnia & Herzegovina1949
Asia Avg1907
World Avg1930
In terms of the year from which women could participate in democracy, China ranks 78th in the world.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
29=Ivory Coast22
Asia Avg48.2
World Avg36.8
China comes 25th in the world in terms of its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews36,37,38,39. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East40, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews41,42. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"43. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males44.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

While China de-criminalized homosexuality in 1997, it lacks laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and same-sex partnership is not legal. In May, Chinese authorities shut down a popular dating app for lesbians. In June, the government banned "abnormal sexual lifestyles," including homosexuality, from online video programs. In July, authorities forced the LGBT group Speak Out to cancel a conference in Chengdu. An earlier Speak Out event scheduled for May in Xi'an was also cancelled after police briefly detained the organizers and told them that LGBT events were "not welcome" in the city.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)3

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
Asia Avg-02.1
World Avg12.6
China comes 105th in the world in terms of LGBT equality.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence45. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws46. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries45. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
Asia Avg3.7
World Avg3.0
China is positioned 21st-worst in the world in terms of freethought.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights47. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish48. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era49 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted50. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief51. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands8,52 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia8,53.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed54. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief48, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion55 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"56 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. Hong Kong and Tibet

#china #democracy #hong_kong #human_rights #UK

China's continuing erosion of the human rights gained during Hong Kong's rule by the UK continued in 20173; "Hong Kong courts disqualified four pro-democracy lawmakers in July and jailed three prominent pro-democracy student leaders in August"3.

Likewise, Tibet continues to suffer under Chinese control.

Authorities in Tibetan areas continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly, and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and arbitrary violence by security forces. In 2017, officials intensified surveillance of online and phone communications.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)3

6. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#China #religion_in_china #religious_intolerance

China is one of a small batch of communist countries where religion overall has been actively suppressed. Mao Zedong's government was especially intolerant of religion, but from his death in 1976 China has been slowly liberalizing57. There are still many restrictions, but they are unevenly applied58. It is difficult for new religious groups to establish if they do not have a recognized presence. The Chinese state also pushes its power into Tibet, severely restricting religious freedom there3.

The government restricts religious practice to five officially recognized religions in officially approved religious premises. Authorities retain control over religious bodies' personnel appointments, publications, finances, and seminary applications. The government classifies many religious groups outside its control as "evil cults," and subjects members to police harassment, torture, arbitrary detention, and imprisonment.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)59

In China, religion is perceived as a threat to the state and is closely monitored by multiple state agencies, most extensively by the Religious Affairs Bureau. [...] China is a prominent member of a group of countries in which religion is viewed as a political threat to the state and religious freedoms are denied. [... Suppression can include] physical abuse of groups' members.

"The Price of Freedom Denied" by Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke (2011)58

For more, see: