Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1992

The People's Republic of China (FRC) is a one-party state adhering to Marxist-
Leninist principles, in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), backed by the
military and security forces, monopolizes decisionmaking authority. A closed mner
circle of a few senior leaders holds ultimate power. Some of these party leaders hold
Sositions within the Politburo, the Central Military Commission, and other orgems.
•thers hold no formal positions of authority but still wield decisive influence by virtue
of their seniority in the Communist movement.
The party maintains control throu^ its ubiquitous apparatus and traditional societal
pressure as well as through a nationwide security netwoik which includes the
People s Liberation Army; the Ministry of State Security; the Ministry of Public Security;
the People's Armed Police; and the state judicial, procuratorial, and penal
systems. The security forces have been responsible for human rights abuses, including
torture and arbitrary arrest and detention.
More than a decade of impressive economic growth and the spread of market
forces have resulted in reducing the Government's control over the economy and
many aspects of the everyday liie of Chinese citizens. China's annual per capita income,
estimated at $320, remains among the world's lowest, but wide disparities
exist, with the living standards in some coastal areas approaching those in more developed
countries. The call of Deng Xiaoping, de facto leader of China, for higher
growth and greater reliance on market economics gained wide support in 1992, despite
some concern over potential overheating of tne economy lea(ung to resurgent
The Government's human rights practices have remained repressive, falling far
short of internationally accepted norms. Around the time of the third anniversary
of the June 1989 Beijing demonstrations, about 30 activists were detained in
Beijing, with more dissidents reportedly held in other areas. The summer trials of
former party central committee member Bao Tong and others allegedly linked to the
1989 prodemocracy demonstrations were characterized by predetermined verdicts,
eflective denial of access to legal counsel, and no access to the trials by independent
observers. Boston-based student activist Shen Tong was detained for almost 8 weeks
after he attempted to exercise his right to free speech and association during a visit
to China. Shen was released after he agreed to depart immediately for the United
States. But at least one Chinese citizen detained in connection with Shen's activities,
Qi Dafeng, remained in custody at year's end. Meanwhile, hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of prisoners of conscience remained imprisoned or detained. The repression
of believers who refused to afllliate with government-sponsored religious organizations
continued; human rights abuses persisted in Tibet and some other areas
heavily populated by ethnic minorities; and cases of torture and mistreatment of
those accused of crimes were documented.
On the more positive side, dissidents in Beijing estimated that by mid-1992 some
70 to 80 percent of those detained in that city for involvement in the 1989 democracy
demonstrations had been released. China's limited dialog with its foreign critics,
while generally characterized by rigid PRC defense of the existing system, continued
to expose greater numbers of Chinese to a larger range of views on human
rights practices. Modest progress was made in resolving a lew individual human
rights cases. A number oi prominent dissidents have been allowed to leave China;
otner exit visa cases have been blocked despite a government commitment to allow
dissidents to leave. The Governments of the United States and China concluded a
memorandum of understanding on preventing trade in prison labor products in August.
In the cultural sphere, there were indications that the rigid ideological controls
reimposed after June 1989 were beginning to ease.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing.
^There were no confirmed deaths as
a result of political or extrajudicial killing. However, some reports suggested that
elderly Catholic bi^op Fan Xueyan may have been beaten prior to his death in oflicial
custody in Hebei Province in April.
      b. Disappearance.
Although there were no reported cases of disappearance in
1992, the Government has never provided a comprehensive public accounting of the
fate of those detained during and after the suppression of the 1989 demonstrations.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Torture and degrading treatment of detained and imprisoned persons persisted.
Both ofiicial Chmese sources and human rights groups reported many instances of
torture. Persons detained pending trial were particularly at risk, reflecting the em541
phasis on obtaining confessiona as a basis for convictions. A June article in the official
Yunnan Legal News indicated that Chinese police sometimes made suspects
kneel on broken glass, jolted them with electric current, or bound them tightly for
long periods. Former detainees have credibly reported the use of cattle prods, electrodes,
prolonged periods of solitaiy confinement and incommunicado detention,
beatings, shacKles, and other forms of abuse against detained women and men.
Former prisoners and detainees have stated that ordinary workers and unemployed
youths were more likely to suffer torture and mistreatment than well-known prisoners.
Refugees have freqpiently and credibly reported on torture and mistreatment
in Tibet's penal institutions.
In April the Procuratorate called for tougher penalties in cases of torture, and officials,
including Politburo member Qiao Shi and the Shan^ai Public Security Bureau
director, took a more open and realistic line on abuses, acknowledging publicly
that torture oy Chinese police was a serious problem. In September China submitted
a supplementaiy report on torture in belated compliance with its reporting obligations
under the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
Procurator General Liu Fuzhi reported in March that 407 alleged cases of torture
were investigated in 1991, down 13.5 percent from 1990. These figures cannot be
confirmed. Ine number of incidents of torture and ill-treatment by government officials
is almost certainly far greater than the number recorded.
Punishment of abusers has rarely been reported, but severe punishments have
been imposed in at least a few cases.
According to the Government's White Paper on "Criminal Reform in China," 24
wardens and guards were sentenced to imprisonment in 1990 and 1991 for administering
corporal punishment to detainees.
Conmtions in all types of Chinese penal institutions are harsh and frequently degrading,
and nutritional and health conditions in China's "reform through labor
camps are grim. There were credible reports that six dissidents held at a Liaoning
labor camp, including Liu Gang and Zhang Ming, were denied family visits, beaten,
and kept m punishment cells lor having attempted hunger strikes. Medical care for
prisoners has been another problem area, despite official assurances in the White
Paper that prisoners have tne right to maintain good health and receive prompt
medical treatment if they become ill. In 1992 political prisoners who had difficulties
in obtaining timely and adeouate medical care incluaed Wang Juntao, Xu Wenli,
Ren Wanding and Li Guiren. These reports come from credible unofficial sources but
cannot be officially authenticated because the Government has refused to allow impartial
observers to visit the prisoners. In a few cases, prisoners have been allowed
out on parole for medical treatment.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
China's Criminal Procedure Law proscribes
arbitrary arrest or detention; limits the time a person may be held in custody
without being charged; and provides for notifying the detainee's family and
work unit of the detention within 48 hours. These provisions are subject to several
important exceptions and are frequently ignored in practice or circumvented by various
informal mechanisms. Public security authorities often detain people for long
Eeriods of time under these mechanisms not covered by the Criminal Procedure
aw. These include unpublished regulations on "taking in for shelter and investigations"
and "supervised residence" as well as other methods not requiring procuratorial
approval. These administrative forms of detention were purportedly abolished
by a 1980 State Council document but are still used. In numerous cases, the precise
legal status or location of detainees is unclear.
Political dissidents are often detained or chai^ged for having committed "crimes of
counterrevolution," under Articles 90 through 104 of the Criminal Law.
Counterrevolutionary offenses range from treason and espionage to spreading
counterrevolutionaiy propaganda. These articles have also been used to punish persons
who organized demonstrations, disrupted traffic, disclosed official information
to foreigners, or formed associations outside state control. Detention and trial of dissidents
on other charges is possible. In January Shanghai democracy advocate Pan
Weiming was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment on chaives of "hooliganism."
Beijing daily editor Qi Ian was given a 4-year jaU term in April for allegedly leaking
state secrets to a Taiwan newspaper; credible sources report Qi was later released
from prison on medical parole. Security officials detained Wang Wanxing, who tried
to stage an unauthorized one-man demonstration to mark the third anniversary of
the June 1989 prodemocraty demonstrations. He later smuggled a letter to the
Western press stating that because of his act of protest he had been comnutted to
a mental institution. People participating in unauthorized religious organizations
may be charged with criminal offenses such as receiving funds from abroad without
authorization or changing such funds on the black market.
Those detained for oommitting "crimes of counterrevohition" are in theory treated
the same as those detained for other crimes, and their cases are supposed to be handled
in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law. In practice, the law's provisions
requiring family notification and limiting length of detention are often ignored
in "counterrevolutionary" and other political cases. Bao Tong, chief aide to former
CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and a former member of the party's Central
Committee, was detained for about 2V^ years before being formally arrested in early
A well-documented estimate of the total number of those subjected to new or continued
arbitrary arrest or detention is not possible due to the Government's tight
control of information. Many reported detentions of dissidents in 1992 were linked
to the June 4 anniversaiy. Around that time, about 30 activists were reported to
have been detained in and around Be^in^. Some of the detained individuals, like
labor activists Han Dongfang, Zhou Guoqiang, Zhang Jinli, and Song Jie, are reported
to have been released after a few oays, but the status of others is unknown.
There were detailed but unconfirmed reports from Hong Kong in August that about
20 dissidents in northwest China had been detained at around the same time. Boston-
based student activist Shen Tong, who had returned to China, and two other
Chinese citizens, Qi Dafeng and Qian Liyun, were detained on September 1, hours
before Shen was schedulea to hold a press conference announcing the formation of
a Beijing branch of a prodemocracy organization. After nearly 8 weeks in detention,
Shen was released after agreeing to depart immediately for the United States. Qian
was subsequently released, but Qi remained in custody at year's end. There was
scant information about other individuals in Hunan and Tia^jin who may also have
been detained in connection with the case.
The Government still has not satisfactorily accounted for the thousands of persons
throughout the country who were arrested or held in "detention during investigation"
or "administrative detention" status for activities related to the 1989
prodemocracy demonstrations. Many of these persons were not formally arrested or
chained with any crime. A human rights organization published information in 1992
specifying that in Hunan alone at least 594 participants in the 1989 demonstrations
had been arrested or detained by the end of 1990.
In March Procurator General Liu Fuzhi told reporters that more than 90 percent
of suspects accused of crimes associated with the 1989 demonstrations had been
brought to trial. liu did not explain the status of the remaining suspects. Most persons
neld in connection with the events of 1989, however, were no longer under detention
by 1992.
According to dissidents in Bering, by mid-1992 some 70 to 80 percent of the persons
detained in that city in connection with the 1989 demonstrations had been relettsed,
in many cases after serving full sentences. Others were released after
lengthy detention without trial. Chaives against labor activist Han Dongfang, who
was released in 1991 on medical parole, were dropped, and he was subsequently allowed
to leave the countiy. Two Hong Kong men arrested in 1989 for aiding dissidents
Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao were given early releases on "medical parole"
in May and allowed to return to Hong Kong, according to reports from south
China. Intellectual Bao Zunxin was released in November on probation after serving
more than 3 years of a 5-year sentence following reports of ill health in prison.
e. Denial of Fair Public TVio/.—Officials insist that China's judiciaiy is independent
but acknowledge that it is subject to the CCPs policy guidance. In actuality,
party and government leaders predetermine verdicts and sentences in some sensitive
cases. According to the Constitution, the court system is equal in authority
to the State Council and the Central Military Commission, the two most important
government institutions. All three organs are nominally under the supervision of the
National People's Congress. The Supreme People's Court stands at the apex of the
court system, followed in descending order by the higher, intermediate, and basic
p^iple's courts.
lliere was a renewed focus on legal reform in 1992, though it is still difficult to
project its ultimate effect. The court system remains deeply flawed. Due process
rights are provided for in the Constitution but most often ignored in practice. Both
before and after trial, prisoners are subject to severe pressure to confess their "errors."
Defendants who fail to "show the ri^ht attitude" by confessing their crimes
are typically sentenced more harshly. Despite official media and other reports that
indicate coerced confessions have led to erroneous convictions, a coerced confession
does not in itself prevent conviction. According to judicial officials, however, confessions
without corroborating evidence are an insufficient basis for conviction.
Accused persons are given virtuaUy no opportunity to prepare a defense in the
pretrial process, during which the question of guilt or innocence is essentially decided
adnunistratively. Defense lawyers may bie retained only 7 days before the
trial. In some cases even this brief period has been shortened under regulations issued
in 1983 to accelerate the a4Judication of certain serious criminal cases. Persons
appearing before a court are not presumed innocent; despite oflicial denials, trials
are essentially sentencing hearings. Conviction rates average over 99 percent. There
is an appeal process and, according to the White Paper on criminal reform, Chinese
courts heard more than 40,000 appeals in 1990 and 1991. Initial decisions, however,
are rarely overturned.
Some officials have acknowledged that trials in China are conducted too raoidly.
Thev blame a shortage of lawyers, of whom there are an estimated 50,000 in China.
Under Chinese law uiere is no requirement that the court appoint a defense attorney
for the defendant unless the defendant is deaf, dumb, or a minor. Knowledgeable
observers report that defense attorneys appear in only a small number of criminal
trials. When attorneys do appear, they have little time to prepare a defense and
rarely contest guilt; their function is generally ooniined to requesting clemency. Defense
lawyers, like other Chinese, generally depend on an official work unit for employment,
housing, and many other aspects of their lives. They are therefore often
reluctant to be viewed as overzealous in defending individuals accused of political
offenses. The Criminal Procedure Law requires that all trials be held in public, except
those involving state secrets, juveniles, or "personal secrets." Details of cases
involving "counterrevolutionary" chaises, however, have frequently been kept secret,
even from defendants' relatives, under this provision. The, 1988 Law on State Secrets
affords a ready basis for denying a pubUc trial in cases involving "counterrevolution."
There were several closed trials of political cases in 1992, including
those of Bao Tong and Fu Shenqi. Even when trials are nominally open, in many
cases the only members of the public allowed to attend are officiaUy selected "representatives
of the people." Numerous requests by independent foreign observers to
attend the trials oi Bao Tong and others were turned aside. The Government asserted
that foreign observers were not permitted to attend trials unless the alleged
crime directly involved a foreigner or a Chinese related to a foreigner.
In the context of China's ongoing anticrime campaign, the CCP leadership has ordered
public security, procuratorate, and court ofllcials to speed the process of investigation,
trial, and sentencing, raising additional concerns about due process. Lack
of due process is particularly troublesome when defendants receive the death sentence.
Chinese omcials refuse to provide comprehensive statistics on death sentences
or executions, but hundreds of executions are confirmed annually. The actual
numbers may be much higher. All death sentences are nominaUy reviewed by a
higher court. In a large number of cases, reviews are very rapid, often completed
within a few days after sentencing, and result in a perfunctory confirmation of sentence.
In addition to the formal judicial system, government authorities can assign
persons accused of "minor'' public order and "counterrevolutionary" offenses to "reeducation
through labor'' camps in an extrajudicial process. This allows security authorities
to deal with political and other offenders without reference to even the
nominal procedures ana protections the formal criminal process offers. "Reeducation
through mbor" sentences were used to circumvent the formal criminal process in the
cases of some 1979 Democracy Wall activists, and appear to have been used in the
same way to deal with some persons involved in the spring 1989 demonstrations.
In 1990 Chinese ofiicials stated that 869,934 Chinese citizens had been assigned
to these camps since 1980, with about 80,000 assigned each year and 160,000 undergoing
S^eeducation through labor" at that time. Justice Ministry officials reiterated
the 160,000 figure in 1991. Other estimates of the number of inmates are considerably
higher. Tne Government says that terms of detention run from a normal minimum
01 1 year to a maximum of'^3, althou^ the "labor reeducation" committee may
extend an inmate's sentence for a maximum of 1 year if his "reform attitude" is not
The number of persons in Chinese penal institutions considered political prisoners
by international standards is impossible to estimate accurately. While government
omcials deny that the China has any "political" prisoners, they have stated in the
White Paper on criminal reform that there are 680 prisons and "reform through
labor^ institutions, holding 1.1 million inmates. According to the Government, 0.5
percent of these were convicted of "counterrevolutionaiy crimes," for a total of
roughly 5,500 "counterrevolutionaiy" convicts. Chinese officials gave an Australian
human rights delegation in November a somewhat lower figure of 4,000 persons
serving sentences lor "counterrevolutionary" crimes. These figures include a substantial
number convicted of crimes such as espionage that are intemationaUy recognized
criminal offenses. On the other hand, the figures exclude detainees in labor
reeducation camps and an undetermined number sentenced for criminal offenses
due solely to their political and religious activities.
Estimates by some foreien researchers of the number of political and other prisoners
are much hi^er. Many prominent activists, inchiding Chen Ziming, Wang
Juntao, Wang Dan, and Wei tJingsheng, remained imprisoned in 1992. Triau of persons
linked by the Government to the 1989 demonstrations continued in 1992. In
the most closely watched trial, Bao Tong was sentenced on July 21 to 7 years in
f>rison. His appeal was rejected on August 6. Because he had already been detained
or 3 years beiore his trial, he will beoime eligible for release after 4 years, in May
1996. Bao was convicted for all^edly leaking state secrets and engaging in incitement
for "counterrevohitionaiy purposes. Gao Shan, Bao's alleged accomplice, was
given a 4-year sentence in August. Later that month, economist Wu Jiaxiang, another
Bao Tong associate, was given a 3-year sentence and released because of time
served. Hie Government asserted that the trials had been fair and had resulted in
lenient sentences, but they were actually characterized by predetermined verdicts,
effective denial of defense, and exclusion of independent observers. While some 1989
cases were still being tried in 1992. other democracy movement activists were completing
their sentences. Li Minqi, Peng Rong, ChenFugong, and Xiao Yuan, among
others, finished their sentences and were released. In August the Government tola
an American human ri^ts monitor that Zhu Jianbin, a 37-year-old dissident who
had been imprisoned for 11 years because of his involvement in the Democracy
Spring Movement of the late 1970*8, had been released. Even after release, however,
such persons have a criminal record, and their status in society, ability to be employeo,
freedom to travel, and numerous other aspects of their lives are oft^n severely
restricted. This is also true in the case of persons who were never prosecuted
or sentenced but whom the Government still considered guilty of counterrevolution.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The authorities
extensively monitor and regulate personal and family life, particularly in
China's cities. Most persons in urban areas still depend on their government-linked
work unit for housing, permission to many or have a child, approval to apply for
a passport, and other aspects of ordinary lue. The work unit, along with the neighborhood
watch committee, is charged with monitoring activities and attitudes. However,
changes in the economic structure, including the growing diversity of employment
opportunities and the increasing market orientation of many woik units, are
beginning to undermine the effectiveness of this system. Search warrants are required
by law before security forces can search premises, but this provision is oft/en
ignored. In addition, both the public security bureau and procuracy apparently can
issue search warrants on their own authority.
The 1982 Constitution states that 'Yreedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens
* * * are protected by law," but according to a Western expert on Chinese law,
such legislation does not exist. In practice, some telephone conversations are recorded,
and mail is frequently opened and censored. The Government has continued
its efibrt to control citizens' access to outside sources of information, selectively jamming
Chinese language broadcasts of the Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting
Corporation. Despite Uie effort made to jam VOA, the effectiveness of the
jamming varies considersibly by region, with audible signals reaching most parts of
The compounds in which foreign diplomats, journalists, and business people live
are under close physical surveillance, nave conspicuously placed television cameras
in elevators, and are presumed to be universally electronically monitored. Chinese
wishing to visit foreigners are deterred by this pervasive system of monitoring.
Since the 1989 crackdown, the Government nas intensified its efforts to restrict contact
between Chinese citizens and foreigners.
China's population has rou^ly doubled in the past 40 years. As a result of increasing
population pressure, in the 1970's and 1980's China adopted a comprehensive
and highly intrusive family planning policy. This policy most heavily affects
Han Chinese in urban areas. For urban couples, obtaining permission to have a second
chUd is very diflicult. Numerous exceptions are allowed for the 70 percent of
Han who live in rural areas. Ethnic minorities are subject to less stringent population
controls. Enforcement of the family planning policy is inconsistent, varymg
widely from place to place and year to year.
The population control policy relies on education, propaganda, and economic incentives,
as well as more coercive measures, including psychological pressure and
economic penalties. Rewards for couples who adhere to the policy include monthly
stipends and preferential medical, food, and educational benefits. Disciplinary measures
against those who violate the policy include stiff fines (up to the equivalent of
$4,000 in some parts of China), withholding of social services, demotion, and other
administrative punishments, including, in some instances, loss of employment. Unpaid
fines have sometimes resulted in confiscation or destruction of personal property.
Because penalties for excess births can be levied against local oflicials ana the
mothers' woric units, many individuals are affected, providing multiple sources of
pressure. Physical compulsion to submit to abortion or sterilization is not authorized
but has contmued to occur as oflicials strive to meet population targets. Chinese officials
acknowledge privately that there are still instances of forced abortions and
sterilizations in remote, rural areas, althou^ the number of such cases is well
below levels of the early 1980'8. While recognizing that abuses occur, ofiicials maintain
that tiie Government does not condone forced abortion or sterilization and that
abuses by local ofiicials are punished. They admit, however, that punishment is rare
and have not documented any cases where punishment has occurred.
Data from the relativelv comprehensive 1990 census shows that tiie average number
of children per family (2.3) and the population growth rate (1.6 percent) remained
significantly hi^er than comprehensive national enforcement ofofiicial policy
would produce. Ofiidal reports in 1991 that China's population was already 1.15
billion forced the Government to abandon the decade-old tar^t of a poinuation
below 1.2 billion in the year 2000. In April 1992, noting that China was at tne peak
of a baby boom. State Familv Planning Commission Minister Peng Peiyun referred
to a revised target of 1.294 billion but warned that the country could not afford to
relax its family planning policies.
At least, five provincial governments have implemented regulations with eugenics
provisions, beginning with Gansu in 1988. These regulations seek to prevent people
with severe mental handicaps from having children. National family planning ofiicials
say they oppose such legislation, but the Government has taken no action to
override these local laws.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and self-expression remain
severely restricted^ although there has been a slight easing of these limits. Tolerance
of some criticism of government policies and ofiicials, wnich had been curtailed
afl«r June 1989, began to reemerge in 1992. Citizens are still not permitted to criticize
publicly senior leaders or to express opinions that contradict basic Communist
Party doctrine whidi provides for a Socialist state under the party's exclusive control.
The Government interprets these principles as circumscribing the various individual
ri^ts guaranteed in the Chinese Constitution. People who violate these
guidelines are punished.
While television and radio broadcasting and the press remain under party and
government control and are used to propagate the currently {acceptable ideological
line, some more adventurous programs, like the popular "Stories From the Editorial
Room," began to appear on Uhinese television in 1992. Several of director Zhang
Yimou's critically acclaimed films, which had previously been distributed abroad but
not in China, were finally permitted to be shown in Chinese theaters or broadcast
on Chinese television. In August Politburo member li Ruihuan called for cultural
reforms to accompany the country's economic liberalization drive and argued for a
relaxation of censorship and political control over artistic works.
After June 1989, the Government had banned works by authors considered politically
unacceptable, but in 1992 journalist Dai Qing, one of the banned writers, had
her novella iSnowball" published in a literary anthology. In May the People's University
Press printed "Trends of History," an anthology of articles by liberal intellectuals.
The book was quickly banned by hardline authorities, but 30,000 copies were
distributed nevertheless.
The Government continued to suspect foreign journalists' activities. Some were
beaten and briefiy detained after they tried to cover an attempted one-man demonstration
at Tiananmen Square in June to mark the anniversaiy of the 1989 protests.
Foreign ioumalists have reported searches of their ofiices by public security
ofiicials andotner episodes of surveillance and harassment.
TTie Government nas continued to impose tight controls on colleges, universities,
and research institutes. The entering freshman classes at Bering University and
Shanghai's Fudan University were again sent to military camps for a year of training
and ideological indoctrination. The State Education Commission has either
censored or prohibited numerous textbooks and scholarly works. Mandatory politicfil
study sessions continued on campus and in the workplace, althou^ an August commentary
in the official Economic Daily criticized woricplace political study sessions
as a waste of time.
The heavy ideological control of academic institutions and media censorship have
forced Chinese journalists and scholars to exercise caution. According to reports in
the Western press, Ding Zilin, a professor at People's University, was stripped in
1992 of her Communist Party membership and banned from advising graduate students
because she had protested her son's killing during the 1989 crackdown at
Tiananmen Square in interviews with foreign reporters. Many scholars, includingsome of China's most prominent, have been deterred horn, exercising firee speech and
have declined opportunities to publish or present papers on subjects which thev fear
could be construed as sensitive. On some less sensitive but still controversial subjects,
sudi as economic policy and the lliree Gorges Dam Project, the Government
nas tolerated more vigorous public debate.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Asaemhly and Asaodation.—While the Constitution provides
for ficedom of peaceful assembly and association, these ri^ts are severely restricted
in practice. "Rie Constitution provides, for exanc^le, that such activities may
not infringe 'Sipon the interests of the Stated and in practice protests against the
political system or its leaders are proscribed.
Applications for demonstrations in 1992 by dissident labor leader Han Dongfang,
Zhang Fengying (the spouse of politiceJ prisoner Ren Wanding), and Hou Xiaotian
(the spouse of political prisoner Wang Juntao) were disapproved. The Government
maintains that some demonstrations have been authorizeo, but independent observers
have not been able to confirm any demonstrations which involved expression of
dissident political views.
The CCjP organizes and controls professional and other mass associations for the
most part. AU organizations are required by 1990 regulations to be officially registered
and approved. Ostensibly aimed at secret societies and criminal gangs, the
regulations also deter the formation of unauthorized political or labor oi^nizations.
They have also been used to didband groups, such as unregistered house churches,
deemed potentially subversive. Security forces maintain a dose watch on groups
formed outside the party establishment. The Government often monitors and restricts
contact between foreigners and Chinese citizens, particularly dissidents.
c. Freedom of ReligUm.—HepTeaBmn of religion in Cmna ti^tened in earlv 1991
with the Communist Party Central Committee's publication of Document Number
6, which urged imposing titter control over religious practice. The situation became
more complex in 1992, with the Government placing renewed emphasis on reform
that woula offer the government-sanctioned religious leaders an opportunity to
speak out against eJ>uses by leftist^ ofBcials. Religious freedom in Chma nevertheless
remained subject to restrictions of varying severity. While the Constitution affirms
toleration of religious beliefs, the Government restricts religious practice outside
officially recognized and govemment-oontrolled religious oivanizations. Religious
proselytizing is ofifidallv restricted to government-registered and sanctioned
places of worship. Unauthorized proselytizing is proscribed and sometimes punished,
although some discreet proselytizing and distributing of religious texts outside
ofiidal cnannels is tolerated. Local authorities have confiscated private property
under the guise of seardiing for illegal relinous materials.
The management and control of religion is uie responsibility of religious affairs
bureaus across China, staffed primarity by party members. OfiadaUy sanctioned religious
organizations are permitted to maintain international contacts as long as
these do not entail foreign control, but prose^rtizing by foreign groups is forbidden.
While some Catliolic seminarians have been allowed to study at seminaries abroad,
others have been refused permission to leave China for study at foreign seminaries.
The Government, after forcefully suppressing all religious observances during the
1966-76 cultural revolution, began in the late 1970'i to restore or replace confiscated
churches, temples, mosques, and monasteries. The ofiicial religious organizations
administer more than a dozen Catholic and Protestant seminaries, nine institutes
to train imams and Islamic scholars, and institutes to train Buddhist
monks. Students who attend these institutes must demonstrate "political reliability,"
and all graduates must pass an examination on their theological and political
knowledge to qualify for the clei^. The Government supervises the publication of
religious material for distribution to ensure religious and political conformity.
Buddhists are by far the largest body of religious believers in China. The Government
estimates that there are 100 million Chinese Buddhists, most of whom belong
to the dominant Han ethnic group. Other Buddhists belong to the Tibetan, Mongolian,
and other ethnic groups. Han Buddhist leaders generally cooperate with the
Government and there have oeen few reports of difficulties.
In Tibet, however, where Buddhism and Tibetan nationalism are closely intertwined,
relations between Buddhists and secular authorities have been tense. The
(iovemment tightly controls Tibetan Buddhism and does not tolerate religious manifestations
that advocate Tibetan independence. The Government condemns the
Dalai Lama's political activities and his leadership of a "government in exile," but
recognizes him as a major religious figure and has not clamped down on the open
veneration of the Dalai Lama by Tibetans. Large amounts of" money are being devoted
by the Government to reconstruction of the main sacred sites, including the
Potala Palace. The practice of reli^on in Tibet is hampered, however, by the hmits
the Government imposes on religious education and by the small size of the reliI
giou8 community compared to traditional norms. Monks at some Tibetan monasteries
knovm for their opposition to Chinese rule face severe travel restrictions.
In areas with large Muslim populations, particulariy Xinjiang, Qin^ai, and
Ningzia, there continues to be concern reganUn^ the sharp restrictions on the building
of moscjues and the religious education oi youths under 18 mandated by the
1988 reliflion law. Following uie 1990 unrest in Xinjiang, the authorities issued regulations
lurther restricting religious activities and teaching. China permits Muslim
citizens to make the haij to Mecca, but limited state financing effectively constrains
the number of h^jjis. Nongovernment sources indicate that about 1,500 Chinese
make the hajj annuaUy.
Daoism, widely practiced in South China, is officially respected as an important
part of traditional Chinese culture, but some of its practices conflicting with government
strictures against superstition and waste of^ arable land have been sharply
criticized in the press. Traditional folk religion appears to be flourishing in some
areas (parts of nural Sichuan, for example) despite official opposition to "feudal superstition."
Only those Christian churches affiliated with either the Catholic Patriotic Association
or the (Protestant) Tliree-Self Patriotic Movement, which the Government
established in the 1950's to eliminate perceived foreign domination of Christian
groups, may operate openly. Church meinbership is growing rapidly. In addition, active
unofficial religious movements pose an alternative to the state-regulated
churches and temples. The unofficial, Vatican-affiliated, Catholic Church claims a
membership far larger than the 3.6 million registered with the official Catholic
Church, thou^ actuid figures are unknown. It has its own bishops and priests and
conducts its own services. In addition to the 4.5 million persons who are officially
counted as following Protestantism, a laige number of Protestants worship privately
in "house churdbe^that are independent of government control. There is a dynamic
house diurch movement in many cities and, like their unofficial Catholic counterparts,
house churches often attract more followers than the official Three-Self Patriotic
movement churches.
The Government generally tolerates the existence of unofficial Catholic and
Protestant cfaurdies as long as they remain small and discreet. In some parts of
South and East China, official and underground churohes seem to coexist and even
cooperate. In other parts of South and East China and in Inner Mongolia, Hebei,
ana Henan provinces, there continued to be credible reports in 1992 of efforts by
authorities to rein in activities of the unapproved Catholic and Protestant movements,
including raiding and closing a number of unregistered churches.
Authorities in areas including northeast China monitor religious believers, restrict
the movements of clergy, and control enrollment in seminaries. This repression has
reflected offickd concern over the Government's inability to control the rapid growth
of membership in Christian groups.
Some eldeiiy Catholic priests Bke Hebei Bishop liu Guandong, Tiaigin Bishop li
Side, ^ejiang Vicar Wang Yijun, and Henan Vicar Jin Dechen were given conditional
releases in 1992. Some reports suggested that elderly Catholic bishop Fan
Xueyan may have been beaten prior to his death in official custody in Hebei province
in Apnl. Another Hebei Bishop, Li Zhenrong, also died in April, shortly after
his release from detention. Many bishops, priests, and 1^ people remained in detention
or "reeducation.' Gansu Bishop Casimir Wang Milu and Hebei priest Pei
Ronggui were still imprisoned. Despite official assurances to the contrary, Shanghai
Biahop Fan ThnngliHng remained under the Public Security Bureau's restriction of
"out on bail pending tnal," which prohibits him from 8a)dng Mass in public, meeting
with foreigners, or leaving Shanghai. Prctestants faced the same sort of pressure
as Catholics. Members ofttie Guangzhou house church of Pastor Samuel Lamb (Lin
Xiangao) faced intermittent harassment by local authorities, though the church remained
open. Althou^ some Protestant leaders and believers remained in detention
or reeducation for their religious activities, others like Song Yude and Ding Hai of
Henan, Sun Ludian of Guangdong, and Xie Moshan of Shanghai were said to have
been released. In May credfl)le unofficial sources reported that liu Huanwen, a
Christian who carried a cross at the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations, had been released.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country. Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation.—
TTie Government uses an identification card system to control and restrict
resideiKX patterns within the country. This system's effectiveness has eroded
during the economic reform of the last decade. The need for a supplemental work
force in major cities has led to general, albeit varied, official tolerance for a lar^e
itinerant population which is not in compliance with formal requirements to obtam
permission to change residence.
A May 1983 State Council notice on the resettlement of ex-convicts stipulates that
in principle they ^ould be repatriated to their former residences or to where their
immediate relatives live. However, some former inmates have been denied permission,
under the "staying at prison employment" systein, to return to their nomes,
according to human rights organizations. For those assigned to camps far from their
residences, this constitutes a form of internal exile. Wnile the Ministry of Justice
claims that only 200 to 300 former prisoners are currently held under this system,
outside observers place the number much higher.
While routinely permitting foreign travel or emigration by almost all Chinese who
wish to do so, the Government has placed obstacles in the way of foreign travel by
a few citizens on political or other grounds. Well-known dissidents like Hou
Xiaotian, Yu Haocheng, and Li Honglin have been unable to obtain permission to
travel abroad. Activist Xiong Yan was only able to leave the country by traveling
without oHicied authorization. Other prominent figures like labor leader Han
Dongfang, writers Wang Ruowang and Bai Hua, sdentist Wen Yuankai, journalists
Wang Ruoshui, Zhang Weiguo, and Zhu Xingqing, and scholar Liu Qing were eventually
able to obtain the passports and exit permits needed to leave the country. Li
some instances, exit permission was granted only after the United States, other governments,
or international human rights organizations repeatedly raised particular
cases with the Government. Regulations issued in 1990 recpire those college and
university graduates who received free postsecondaiy education to repay the cost of
their education to the State by working for 5 vears or more before being eligible for
passports to go abroad to study. For those who have overseas Chinese relatives or
have not yet graduated, the regulations provide a sliding scale of tuition reimbursement
exemptmg them from the work requirement. Implementation of these regulations
has varied from place to place, and most students are still managing to obtain
{>assports. Persons subject to the regulations on study abroad appear to have had
ittle trouble obtaining passports to visit relatives overseas. Political attitudes, however,
are still a major criterion in selecting people for government-sponsored study
The Government has made a concerted effort to attract back to China persons
who have studied overseas. To reassure them, the official Xinhua News Agency re-
{>orted that, effective July 1, Chinese citizens who returned from overseas would no
onger be required to go through re-exit formalities, which had involved Public Security
Bureau clearances. In August the Government made public a State Council circular
welcoming students to return to China. The official China Daily invoked Deng
Xiaoping as the authority for these measures, stating that during his southern
China tour early in 1992, Deng had pointed out that people who are studying overseas
may return "regardless of their past political views. The article cautioned that
before returning home, people who have joiaed foreign organizations hostile to
China should quit them and refrain from activities that violate Chinese law. Procurator
General Liu Fuzhi warned in March, however, that people wanted by the public
security authorities were not covered by the oflicial assurances extended to other
overseas scholars.
Some activists managed to reenter China in 1992, while others were prevented
from returning. JoumaUst Dai Qing, who had been allowed to leave China in late
1991 to do researdi at Harvard, was able to travel back to Beijing in the summer
of 1992, after some initial difficulties, and then leave again for the United States.
Others, including dissident writer Xu Gang, also returned, apparently without incident.
Boston-based student activist Shen Tong was released from almost 8 weeks
of detention onlv after agreeing to depart China for the United States immediately.
Some individuals, like Luo Haixing in Hong Kong and Harvard University student
Gong Xiaoxia, were refiised permission to reenter China, according to credible reports.
A handful of prominent dissidents overseas continued to have difficulty in extending
or renewing passports.
The uovemment accepts the repatriation of citizens who have entered other countries
or territories illegally, in most cases apparently without punishing theno, although
Lin Guizhen, a Chinese woman deported from Japan while seeking political
asylum, was assigned to 6 or 12 months (accounts vary) of "reeducation" for leaving
China without authorization.
Although the Government denies having tightened its policy on accepting Vietnamese
refiigees, in recent years very few such refugees nave actually been resettled
in China. According to Chinese ofiicial figures, from 1989 to 1991 China granted
admission and provided resettlement to about 130 Vietnamese refugees who
came to China to reunite with their families, and gave temporary refuge to 35 Vietnamese
who subsequently settled in third countries. There were credible reports
that larger numbers of Vietnamese have remained in China without official harassment.
Unina has cooperated witii Hong Kong to reduce the flow of Vietnamese refii549
gees into the ookmy. Although China has signed the Comprehensive Plan of Action
negotiated at tbe Intemational Conference on Indochinese Refugees in 1989, it is
unclear ^^ether China considers itself a "participating state."
Credible reports suggest that China has generally repatriated persons of other nationidities
seeking refugee status. The Government stated in April it had granted
temporary refuge to an unspecified number of Burmese refugees, and denied press
reports that Chinese border troops had attacked such refugees. No independent confirmation
is possible. In July Chma expelled to Pakistan about 160 Afghan refugees,
apparently without informing the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) and despite the fact that the UNHCR had accepted the Afghans as "persons
of concern* and was in the process of deciding whether they qualified as refugees
under the UJ^. Convention on Refugees.
Section 3. Reelect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Citizens lai^ the means legally to change their government, nor can they freely
choose or diange the laws and oflicials that govern them. China is ruled by the
Communist Partv, the paramount source of political authority. Within the party, a
closed inner circle of a few senior leaders reserves the right to set ultimate policy
directions. Some hold key positions within the standing committee of the Politburo,
the Centi^ Military Commission, or other organs. Otners, nominally retired, continue
to exercise great political influence. Deng Xiaoping, now 88, forcefully
reasserted his de facto preeminence within the Chinese political leadership in 1992.
According to Hie 1982 Constitution, the National People's Congress (NPC) is the
hi^est organ of state power. It nominally selects the President and Vice President,
decides on the choice of the Premier, and elects the Chairman of the Central Military
Commission. The election and agenda of the NPC remains under tight control
by the Commnnist Party. However, in March and April the NPC conducted relatively
open debate and voting on the controversial issue of the Three Gorges Dam
Section 4. GooemmenttU Attitude Regarding Intemational and Nongovernmental Investigation
ofAlleged Violations ofHuman Rights
There are no independent Chinese organizations that publicly monitor or comment
on human ri^ts conditions in China. The Grovemment has made it clear it
will not tolerate the existence of such groups. After being detained in Shanghai in
the spring of 1991 for publishing a human rights newsletter, Fu Shenqi was oonvictea
in 1992 of "counterrevolutionary" crimes; two others detained in the same incident
were released without trial. However, three intellectuals, Guo Luoji, Yu
Haocheng, and Wang Ruoshui, joined the board of an intemational human r^hts
organization in 1992. Representatives from some intemational human rights groups,
but not others, managed to get permission to visit China, but even in these cases
access to information remained very limited.
Despite the Government's adherence to the United Nations Charter, whidi mandates
respect for and promotion of human rights, Chinese officials do not accept the
principle that humtm ri^ts are universal. Tney argue that each nation has its own
concept of human ri^ts, grounded in its political, economic, and social system and
its historical, religious, and cultural background. Officials no longer dismiss all discussion
of human li^ts as interference in the country's internal affairs but remain
reluctant to accept criticism of China's human ri^ts situation by other nations or
intemational organizations. They reject reports by Amnesty Intemational, Asia
Watch, and other intemational human rights monitoring groups on torture and
other human rights violations. The Chinese Foreign Ministiy characterized as unacceptable
the Department of State's 1991 report on human rights practices in China.
Chinese officials have stepped up their criticism of human rights problems in other
countries while arguing, paradoxically, that foreigners have no right to criticize
human ri^ts abuses in China.
The St^ Council information office published White Papers in 1992 on China's
criminal justice system and on Tibet. While the reports stridently defended Chinese
practices in both areas and glossed over fundamental problems, some critics saw
them as offering a modest opening for further debate on these subjects. After publishing
the White Paper on the justice system. Justice Minister Cai Cheng stated
that China was willing to promote contact and cooperation with foreign countries
in criminal reform, but how far China is prepared to go in this area remains to be
Chinese officials continued efforts begun in 1991 to promote academic study and
discussion of concepts of human rights. Research institutes in Shanghai and Bering
oi^anized synqiosia on human rights and established human ri^ts research cen550
tere. A 4-meniber delegation from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences visited
the United Kingdom^ France, and Sweden in February and March to study human
rights practices in uiese countries. Such activities appear to have originated^ in a
desire to improve China's image abroad and strengthen the Government's ability to
respond to criticism of its humtm rights record. Chinese authorities continued tneir
liimted dialog with foreign governments on human ri^ts issues in talks with a
number of visiting delegations from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia,
and other countries and also during visits abroad by Chinese leaders. Whatever
the motivation, this process of study and dialogue has exposed more Chinese
to international standards and concepts of human ri^ts.
At the same time, Chinese authorities have refused requests by foreign human
rights delegations to meet with political prisoners and certain former political detamees
ana ^ssidents and have turned aside calls by the United States and other
S)vemments and by human rights groups for International Conmiittee of the Red
ross access to prisoners. Three Canadian legislators were expelled from China in
January, apparently for having planned to make a symbolic gesture against human
rights abuses. In a similar inadent in April, a British parliamentarian and several
European labor leaders were required to leave the country. An Australian human
rights group led by Senator Schacht was refiised permission to visit Tibet.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
While laws exist to protect minorities and women, in practice discrimination
based on ethnicity, sex, and religion has persisted. Areas in which discrimination
exists include housing, jobs, and education. Minorities benefit from a policy of "privileged
treatment" in marriage, familv planning, university admission, and employment,
as well as disproportionate infrastructure investment in some minority areas.
In practice, however, discrimination based on ethnic origin persists, and the concept
of a largely homogeneous Chinese people pervades the general thinking of the Han
ethnic majority.
The 55 designated ethnic minorities constitute just over 8 percent of China's total
population. Most minority groups reside in areas they have traditionally inhabited,
with standards of living often well below the national average. Government development
policies have helped raise minority living standards but have at the same time
disrupted traditional Uving patterns. In August the Dalai Lama asserted that the
Government's plan to develop Tibet's economy would lead to a massive influx into
Tibet of Han Chinese. TTiis process already affects the ethnic mixture in Lhasa, as
tens of thousands of Han entrepreneurs move in.
In some instances, the Government has tried to adopt policies responsive to minority
sensitivities but in doing so has encountered the ^enuna of how to respect
minority cultures without damaging minority interests. In Tibet and Xii^jiang, for
example, there are two-track school systems using standard Qiinese and minority
languages. Students can choose which system to attend. One side effect of this policy
to protect and maintain minority cultures has been reinforcement of a segregated^
society. Under this separate education system, those graduating from minority
schools are at a disadvantage in competing for jobs in government and business,
which require good spoken Chinese. These graduates must take remedial language
instruction before attending universities and colleges.
The CCPs avowed policy of boosting minority representation in the Government
and the CCP has led to some increase in the numoer of members of minorities in
leadership slots. This has failed, however, to alter the reality that ethnic minorities
are effectively shut out of all but a few positions of real political and decisionmaking
power. Some minorities resent Han ofiicials holding key positions in minority autonomous
regions. Ethnic minorities in Tibet, Xinjiang, and elsewhere have demonstrated
against Han Chinese authority. Central authorities have made it clear
that they wDl not tolerate opposition to Beijing's rule in minority regions. Although
martial law in Lhasa was Hfted in 1990, Tibetans like Yulo Dawa Tsering, Ngawang
Pulchung, and Jempel Tsering remained imprisoned in 1992. According to numan
rights organizations, demonstrations were held in Lhasa in March, with four monks
and three nuns beaten and detained by public security forces. Another group of Tibetans
was said to have been arrested in June. Smaller scale protests are reported
to occur frequently in the Tibetan capital. While repression continued, there was at
the same time a resumption of dialog on Tibet. In the summer, the Dalai Lama's
brother Gyalo Thondup visited Beijing, in the highest level contact between a representative
of the Dalai Lama and the Government since 1989. China's White Paper
on Tibet excoriated the "Dalai Lama's clique" for its advocacy of "separatist" practices
but left the door slightlv ajar for further contacts.
Ethnic tension in inner Mongolia and Xii\jiang persisted at a low level. Three
Inner Mongolian independence activists were given sentences ranging from 2 to 8
years on charges of engaging in "splittist proi>aganda,'' according to press reports
from Hong Kong. Following a bomb explosion in Urumqi in February, the head of
the Xinjiang regional government accused separatists ol stepping up sabotage and
subversion and said the army, police, and miutia were being mobilized against this
The 1982 Constitution states that "women in the People's Republic of China ei\joy
equal rights with men in all spheres of life," and promises, among other things,
equal pay for equal work. In fact, most women employed in industry work in lower
skilled and lower paid jobs. Women hold relatively few positions of signiiicant influence
within the party or government structure. Persistent problems have remained
with regard to tne status of women, who have often been the unintended victims
of reforms designed to streamline enterprises and give woikers greater job mobility.
Many employers prefer to hire men to avoid the expense of maternity leave and
child care. lieports by women of discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair dismissal,
demotion, and wage cuts have continued. In March the NPC enacted legislation
on the protection of the rights and interests of women designed to assist in curbing
these types of sex-related discrimination.
While the gap in the education levels of men and women is narrowing, men continue
to constitute the majority of the educated, particularly the highly educated,
and government-funded scholarships for overseas study go disproportionately to
The Government strongly condemns and is working hard to curb the abduction
and selling of women for wives, abuse of female children, violence against women,
and female infanticide. It has severely punished a number of people accused of such
crimes. Many discriminatory practices are rooted in traditional rural attitudes
which highly value boys as prospective earners and as future caretakers for elderly
parents. A number of provinces have sought to reduce the perceived hi^er economic
value of boys in providing old age support by establishing or improving pensions and
retirement homes.
Female infanticide has persisted in impoverished rural areas. Insistence that local
units meet population goals contributes to the persistence of this traditional practice,
generally carried out by parents who hope to have more sons without incurring
oflicial punishment. The Government strongly condemns infanticide and has prosecuted
offenders but has been unable to eradicate the practice.
There is evidence of discrimination in China on the basis of religion. Party officials
state that party membership and religious belief are incompatible. This places
a serious limitation on religious believers, since party membership is required for
almost all high positions in government and commerce. While there are some religious
believers in the CCP, especially in minority autonomous regions, few hold substantial
leadership positions. Officials responsible for religious auiairs work are generally
not believers in religion.
Anothergroup against whom the Government discriminates is political prisoners'
families. Zhang Fengying, wife of imprisoned activist Ren Wanding, was evicted,
along with her sick teenage daughter, from her apartment in April. Ren's work unit
owns the apartment. The work unit apparently wanted to reassign the housing to
another worker. This is but one example of the kind of discrimination the families
of political prisoners sometimes encounter in obtaining jobs or permission to travel
abroad, andin obtaining or keeping housing.
Section 6. Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
China's 1982 Constitution provides for "freedom of
association, but the guarantee is heavily diluted by references to the interest of the
State and the leadership of the CCP. Though union officials recognize that workers'
interests may not always coincide with those of the party, the union law passed at
the National People's Congress in March states that the union is a CCP organ and
its primary purpose is to mobilize workers for national development. The country's
sole officiaJlyrecognized woikers' organization, the All-China Federation of Trade
Unions (ACFTU), ostensibly independent, is in fact CCP controlled. There are no
overtly operating independent trade unions in China. WhUe union membership is
voluntary for individual employees, enterprises are generally required to have a
union. Most state sector and urban workers are members of ACFTU chapters. Unemployed
workers are not considered union members. Workers in companies with
foreign investors are guaranteed the right to form unions (which then must affiliate
with the ACFTU). Some managers of such companies report significant union activity
and have had to bargain with these unions over wages and benefits. Union officials
state that only 20 percent of joint and wholly foreign-owned ventures have
unions, but add that the proportion is much higher in larger firms and in companies
with investments by North American and European partners. These officials, who
attribute the lack of unions in other companies with foreign investors to the newness
of the firms, claim to be actively organizing unions in unorganized companies
with foreign investors and report little opposition from the foreign owners.
The ri^t to strike, whidi nad been included in China's 1975 and 1978 constitutions,
was not retained in the 1982 Constitution. In 1983, however, the ACFTU
Chairman asserted that, if a trade union and its labor protciction safety officers determine
that a workplace is too dangerous, the union would organize the workers
to leave the hazardous areas. This limited right to protest or stnke was reasserted
in a committee chairman's speech before the National People's Congress in March
explaining the 1992 Trade Union Law; the law, itself, enables the union to "suggest
that the staff and workers withdraw from the sites of danger^ and to participate
in accident investigations. In general, the union law passed in 1992 assigned umons
the role of mediators or go-betweens with management in cases of work stoppages
or slowdowns. While Mimstry of Labor Officials aeny that any strikes have recently
taken place. Western and Chinese press and business people report labor unrest and
even factory wide strikes occurrea on an increased scale durmg the summer and
spring. TTiis has been particularly well-documented in Tiaryin and Northeast China,
\wiere workers struck or engaged in violent acts when state enterprises began to
fire excess workers. In response to worker unhappiness, the Government modified
its labor reform efforts reducing administrative pressures to fire workers at the
same time as rapid economic growth reduced the economic pressure. The result was
a diminution in tension between workers and management by the end of the year.
Since late 1991 the Western press has reported increasing underground union activity
throughout China, including one worfeers' movement mat models itself on the
Poland's Solidarity. Independent labor leader Han Dongfang, whom the PRC allowed
after many delays to travel abroad, told the press in Hong Kong in September
that workers in many parts of China are forming small "self-motivated" organizations
focused on worker welfare and factory floor issues. Press reports indicate that
the Government is attempting to stamp out all clandestine union activity and that
independent unions and worker groups feature prominently in lists of illegal organizations.
There have been reports of additional union-related detentions in 1992, and
some woiker leaders who attempted to form independent unions in 1989 are still
in detention. ACFTU international activities are subject to CCP policy guidance.
The ACFTU claims to have contact with trade unions in over 120 countries, without
regard to the foreign union's ideological orientation.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Government does not
permit collective bargaining in most enterprises. Without legal status as a collective
bargaining body, the ACFTU's role has been limited to consultations with management
over wages and regulations affecting labor and working conditions and efforts
to serve as a conduit for communicating workers' complaints to the management of
enterprises or municipal labor bureaus. The ACFTU has shown itself concerned
about protecting workers' living standards in areas such as unemployment insurance.
Under the labor contract system that now covers approximately 10 percent of China's
urban worit force, individual workers may negotiate with management over
contract terms. Although the number of woricers involved is stUl proportionally low,
since the practice started under reforms initiated in the late 1980's and was given
new emphasis in 1992, the old permanent emplojrment system is giving way to the
more flexible contract-based system. When enterprises change the terms of employment
from permanent to contract based, however, the employees have no opportunity
to negotiate this basic structural diange individually or collectively, but can
only seek to modify the details of their new contracts. Only the very few workers
with highly technical skills are able to negotiate effectively on salary and fringe benefits
A 1988 law states that trade unions in private enterprises, which currently employ
only about 1 percent of urbtm workers, have the right to represent employees
and to conclude collective bargaining agreements. There have been no rep rts of
unions in private enterprises actually enga^ng in collective bai^aining over wages,
contract, or safety issues. The ACFTU, which has never attempted collective bargaining,
has taken the view that it is the sole legitimate Chinese workers' organization
and is accordingly the appropriate union to organize the workers in private enterprises.
Worker congresses, held periodically in most Chinese enterprises, theoretically
have the authority to remove incompetent managers and approve major decisions
affecting the enterprise (notably wage and bonus distribution systems). Worker congresses
generally take place only once a year, however, and serve essentially to
rubberstamps agreements worked out between factory managers, party secretaries,
and union representatives.
A dispute settlement procedure has been in efiect since 1987. The procedure provides
for two levels of aroitration committees and a final resort to the courts. Almost
all cases are resolved at the first or second level. According to Labor Ministry officials,
most arbitration cases are filed by contract workers or their employers, an indication
that the new contract system provides a clearer set of ground rules which
both sides can attempt to enforce.
Laws governing woiiting conditions in China's special economic zones are not significantly
diiferent from those in the rest of the country. Labor Minister Ruan
Chongwu confirmed in 1992 that a previous reflation that limited joint venture
employees' wages to 120 percent of state enterprise employees' wages was no longer
in force. Numerous press reports indicate that some workers in special economic
zones, althoufi^ paid more than those in Chinese state enterprises, put in regular
workdays as bng as 12 hours.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
While China has generally abandoned
its traditional use of massive corvee labor for constructing infrastructure
projects and public facilities, workers are still sometimes "mobilized" to augment
public security forces and for public works projects. Imprisonment in China usually
entails compulsoiy labor. As me names imply, forced labor is a cornerstone of the
Chinese "reform through labor'' and "reeducation through labor" systems. Almost all
persons the courts sentence to prison or forced labor camps, including political prisoners,
are required to work, usually for little or no compensation. China also maintains
a network of "reeducation through labor" camps (see Section I.e.), the inmates
of which generally must work. Reports from human rights organizations and released
prisoners demonstrate that at least some prisoners in pretrial detention are
also required to work.
Chinese penal policy emphasizes "reform first, production second," but compulsory
labor is an integral part of the system both to rehabilitate prisoners and to help
support the faciuties. According to prison authorities, i>risoners in labor reform institutions
work a full 8-hour day and must also engage in both ideological and basic
literacy and skills training. Justice officials have stated that in labor reeducation
facilities there is a much neavier emphasis on education than labor. Most reports
conclude that work conditions in the penal system's export-oriented li^t manufacturing
factories are similar to those in ordinary factories, but conditions on labor
farms and in coal mines are harsh. "There have been an increasing number of reports
that "reform through labor," and possibly "reeducation through labor" facilities
as well, rent prisoners out to ordinary factories to work.
The State Council's 1992 White Paper on criminal reform reported that prison
labor production for 1990 was valued at about $500 million. This figure, which cannot
be confirmed, would not include the output from "reeducation through labor" facilities.
Various Chinese newspapers have reported that Chinese prison labor is used for
many types of production (examples in parenthesis): infrastructure (roads); heavy
industry (coal; steel); light manufacturing (clothing, shoes; small machine tools); and
agriculture (grain, tea, sugar cane). Press reports, the 1990 Chinese Law Yearbook,
and IJ.S. Customs Service investigations demonstrate that some of these goods are
The U.S. Customs Service has issued orders barring a number of products reportedly
made by prisoners from entering the United States and has detained several
shipments of such goods. In 1991 the CJhinese Government published a reiteration
of its regulations barring the export of prison-made goods. (Jn August 7, 1992, the
U.S. and Chinese Governments signed a memorandum of understanding on trade
in prison labor products, which allows for both sides to exchange information and
evidence related to suspected exports of prison labor products from China to the
United States and enables U.S. officials to visit suspect lacUities.
d. Minimum Ase for Employment of Children.—Regulations promulgated in 1987
prohibit the employment of school age minors who have not completed the compulsory
9 years of education. Statistics on school attendance demonstrate that approximately
20 percent of school age children in cities and villages do not attend school
and therefore are likely to be working. The number may well be higher in poorer
and isolated areas, where child labor in agriculture is believed to be widespread. Officials
note that state enterprises are generally overstaffed and therefore have no
reason to hire children. Some independent observers believe there is some employment
of adolescents below the age of 16 in private enterprises in south China but
agtree with Chinese officials that China's urban child labor problem is relatively
In 1991 the State Council issued regulations designed to curb child labor problems.
They impose severe fines, withdrawal of business licenses, or ^ail for employers
who hire diild laborers under 16 years of age. Labor officials m South China
have described an active eflbrt to curb child labor throu^ periodic inspection and
fines. Thus far these oflicials have been reluctant to use the more stringent punishments
at their disposal.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
China does not have a labor code. A draft is
reportedly circulating, but it remains unclear if or when it will be published or made
There is no minimum wage in China, but administrative regulations reportedly
fix the minimum "living wage" in at least some large cities at around $10 monthly.
Union oflicials report this fijgure applies to those who cannot work because of longterm
unemployment, disabUity, or for other reasons. In Bering all employed workers
earn more than $20 per month. This amount is believed to be lower in areas with
a lower cost of living. These figures do not include additional free or heavily subsidized
benefits in kind which employing woik units commonly provide, such as
housing, medical care, and education. Factories or ministries are required to jiay 70
percent of final monthly wages to workers laid ofF because of a factory closing or
reduction in force, but there have been numerous reported violations of this practice.
The legal standard workweek excluding overtime is 48 hours, of which 3 to 12
hours are generally spent in political study or "education" on current social issues.
In recent years many factories have abandoned political study either for regular
work or for an additional half day off each week. Starting in 1991 and 1992, factories
(including joint ventures) have been allowed to have shorter woikweeks if
they choose.
Occupational health and safety are constant themes of posters and campainis.
Every work unit must designate a health and safety officer; the Intemational Labor
Organization has established a training program for these oflicials. These issues
have received increasing attention from senior oflicials including Premier Li Peng
and Vice Premier Zhu Kongji, but pressures for incretised output, lack of financial
resources to maintain equipment, and a traditionally poor understanding of safety
issues by workers have contributed to poor results thus far. State prosecutors dew
annually with thousands of negligence and accident cases involving criminal or civil
liability. In November 1992, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
passed a law on mining safety. The law, effective in May 1993, will establish
standards and provide for enforcement by fines and imprisonment. Because of the
lack of similar legislation to bring together diverse ana often unpublished regulations
in other hetuth and safety areas, compliance with existing regulations is often