January 18, 2018
The Chinese government under the leadership of President Xi Jinping expanded its sustained offensive against human rights both at home and abroad in 2017, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018. The death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a hospital under heavy guard in July epitomized the authorities’ deep contempt for people’s rights. China used its increasing global influence to threaten the protection of rights internationally.
Liu Xiaobo died from cancer in a Shenyang hospital, surrounded by state security, after serving nearly 9 years of his 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion.” During his hospitalization, authorities isolated Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, from family and supporters, and denied Liu’s request to seek treatment outside the country. Since Liu’s death, authorities have forcibly disappeared Liu Xia.
“Chinese authorities are leaving no stone unturned in their cruel campaign against peaceful human rights activism,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “The near future for human rights in China appears grim as President Xi enters his second five-year term.”
In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that political leaders willing to stand up for human rights principles showed that it is possible to limit authoritarian populist agendas. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated that the rise of anti-rights governments is not inevitable.
Beijing subjected more human rights defenders – including foreign nationals – to show trials in 2017. Police tortured detainees to obtain confessions, denied them access to lawyers of their choice, and held them incommunicado for months. Lawyer Wang Quanzhang and activist Wu Gan, who were rounded up in the nationwide crackdown that began in July 2015, remained in police custody. Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che was sentenced to five years in prison, and lawyer Jiang Tianyong received two years, both for “subverting state power.”