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TITLE: CHINA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE CHINA The People's Republic of China (PRC) remains a one-party state ruled by the Chinese Communist Party through a 21-member Politburo and a small circle of officially retired but still powerful senior leaders. Almost all top civilian, police, and military positions at the national and regional levels are held by party members. Despite official adherence to Marxism- Leninism, in recent years economic decisionmaking has become less ideological, more decentralized, and increasingly market oriented. Fundamental human rights provided for in the Constitution are frequently ignored in practice, and challenges to the Communist Party's political authority are often dealt with harshly and arbitrarily. Security forces, comprised of a nationwide network 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, are poorly monitored due to the absence of adequate legal safeguards or adequate enforcement of existing safeguards for those detained, accused, or imprisoned. They are responsible for widespread and well-documented human rights abuses, including torture, forced confessions, and arbitrary detentions. A decade of rapid economic growth, spurred by market incentives and foreign investment, has reduced party and government control over the economy and permitted ever larger numbers of Chinese to have more control over their lives and livelihood. Despite significant income disparities between coastal regions and the interior, there is now a growing "middle class" in the cities and rural areas as well as a sharp decline in the number of Chinese at the subsistence level. These economic changes have led to a de facto end to the role of ideology in the economy and an increase in cultural diversity. An example of this is the media, which remains tightly controlled with regard to political questions, although it now is free to report on a wider variety of other issues. The Government took some positive steps on human rights issues during 1993. It released some prominent political prisoners early or on medical parole; many had served long terms in prison. The Government still has not provided a full or public accounting of the thousands of persons detained during the suppression of the 1989 democracy movement, when millions of students, workers, and intellectuals defied the Government and participated in public demonstrations. Most of these detainees appear to have been released, however, some after serving periods of detention without charges having been brought and some after having completed their prison sentences. The Government says it has released the remaining imprisoned or detained Vatican loyalists among the Catholic clergy. Although it continues to restrict the movements and activities of some elderly priests and bishops, the Government announced in November that two priests, whose movements had been restricted, were free to return to their homes. The authorities also allowed a number of prominent political dissidents to leave China in 1993. In November the Government announced it would give positive consideration to a request from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit China. Nevertheless, the Government's overall human rights record in 1993 fell far short of internationally accepted norms as it continued to repress domestic critics and failed to control abuses by its own security forces. The Government detained, sentenced to prison, or sent to labor camps, and in a few cases expelled from the country, persons who sought to exercise their rights of freedom of assembly and speech. The number of persons in Chinese penal institutions considered political prisoners by international standards is impossible to estimate accurately. In 1993 hundreds, perhaps thousands, of political prisoners remained under detention or in prison. Physical abuse, including torture by police and prison officials persisted, especially in politically restive regions with minority populations like Tibet. Criminal defendants continue to be denied legal safeguards such as due process or adequate defense. In many localities, government authorities continued to harass and occasionally detain Christians who practiced their religion outside the officially sponsored religious organizations. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing There were accounts of extrajudicial killings by government officials in 1993. A few cases resulted in severe punishment for the officials involved and were widely publicized as admonitory examples. Local officials beat to death an Anhui farmer in February after he protested the level of taxes and fees. Those found directly responsible for the beating, including a local public security official, received long prison terms and, in one case, a death sentence. Other officials were dismissed or disciplined. Also, in another well-publicized case, the powerful local Communist party secretary of a village near Tianjin was sentenced in August to 20 years in prison for obstruction of justice and other offenses related to a December 1992 beating death. Those who actually took part in the beating also received long prison terms. The official responses to other cases served to cover up abuses, however. Credible reports indicated that a Shaanxi man beaten by public security officials in March, during a raid on an unauthorized Protestant gathering, died as a result of his injuries and the lack of timely medical care while in police custody. An official autopsy ascribed the death to an unrelated illness. Because the Government often restricts access to such information, it is impossible to determine the total number of such killings. However, according to a credible report issued in 1993 by a human rights group, at least 12 persons died in 1992 as a result of torture while in police custody. b. Disappearance There were no reported cases in 1993 in which persons who disappeared were suspected to have been killed by officials, however, the Government has still not provided a comprehensive, credible public accounting of all those missing or detained in connection with the suppression of the 1989 demonstrations. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Cases of torture and degrading treatment of detained and imprisoned persons persisted. Both official Chinese sources and international human rights groups reported many instances of torture. Persons detained pending trial were particularly at risk as a result of weaknesses in the legal system, including the emphasis on obtaining confessions as a basis for convictions and the lack of access to prisoners, even by family members, until after formal charges are brought, a step that can be delayed for months. Former detainees have credibly reported the use of cattle prods and electrodes, prolonged periods of solitary confinement and incommunicado detention, beatings, shackles, and other forms of abuse against detained women and men. While generally refusing to allow impartial observers to visit prisoners, officials stated that internal monitoring and laws to prevent and punish abuses continue to be strengthened. Procurator General Liu Fuzhi said in March that 2,800 procuratorate offices had been set up in jails and detention centers to safeguard the welfare of detainees. In response to a call by the Chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC), a national-level procuratorial conference held in Shanghai in early April focused on measures to improve the Procuratorate's supervision of law enforcement personnel and government officials who violate the civil rights of citizens. In August the Guangdong provincial public security bureau issued a regulation forbidding police torture during interrogations. In April China told the U.N. Committee Against Torture that 339 cases of torture to extract confessions were investigated during 1992, 209 cases were reported to the Procuratorate with a view to prosecution, and 180 prosecutions were brought. No information on convictions or punishments was provided. While Chinese officials said in December that 23 prison officials had been punished in serious cases of mistreatment of prisoners, the number of actual incidents of torture and ill-treatment by government officials is almost certainly far greater than this number. Conditions of imprisonment for political prisoners vary widely. Some prisoners, including the student leader Wang Dan, who was released in February, have stated they were treated reasonably well. Credible reports indicate others have been abused. Political prisoners are often intermingled with common criminals. Credible reports persisted in 1993 that Liu Gang, a political prisoner held at a Liaoning labor camp, suffers ill health as a result of beatings and other mistreatment, and that prison officials instigated some beatings by cellmates. Officials strongly denied these allegations and arranged for an interview with Liu and his jailers, which was published in August by a Chinese English-language journal. They declined repeated requests by foreign groups to allow access to the jailed dissident by independent observers. There was limited evidence that, at least in a few cases, detained dissidents have been incarcerated in psychiatric institutions and treated with drugs. The lack of independent outside access to such persons made it impossible to verify the reports. Shanghai dissident Wang Miaogen was detained by public security officials in May and committed to a mental institution after he attempted to protest the holding of the East Asia games. Wang had earlier chopped off four of his fingers in a protest over alleged persecution. Wang Wanxing, detained in 1992 while attempting to stage a one-man protest on Tiananmen Square, continued to be held in a Beijing-area mental hospital. Conditions in Chinese penal institutions are generally harsh and frequently degrading, and nutritional and health conditions are sometimes grim. Medical care for prisoners has been a problem area, despite official assurances that prisoners have the right to maintain good health and receive prompt medical treatment if they become ill. In 1993 political prisoners who reportedly had difficulties in obtaining timely and adequate medical care included Wang Juntao, Chen Ziming, and Ren Wanding. Medical paroles may be granted to ailing prisoners, and 1989 detainee Li Guiren was released in January to obtain medical treatment. Working conditions for prisoners in many facilities are similar to those in ordinary factories, but some prisoners working in penal coal mines and at other sites must endure dangerous conditions (see Section 6.c.). Political prisoner Qi Dafeng continued to serve a 2-year sentence in a coal mine in Anhui, where he had been sent under the nonjudicial "reeducation through labor" program in late 1992. 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 requires officials to notify the detainee's family and work unit of the detention within 24 hours. These provisions are subject to several important exceptions, including the sweeping provision that notification may be withheld if it would "hinder the investigation" of a case. Senior judicial officials acknowledged in 1993 that limits on detention are frequently ignored in practice or circumvented by various informal mechanisms. In numerous cases, the precise legal status or location of detainees is unclear. Public security authorities often detain people for long periods of time under mechanisms not covered by the Criminal Procedure Law. These include unpublished regulations on "taking in for shelter and investigation" and "supervised residence" as well as other methods not requiring procuratorial approval. According to the Chinese media, close to 1 million detentions under "shelter for investigation" have been carried out annually in recent years. No statistics were available to indicate the usual length of these detentions, but at least some lasted several months. Links between local officials and business leaders have resulted in scattered detentions as a means of exerting pressure in economic disputes. The legality of detentions may be judicially challenged under the Administrative Procedures Law, but such challenges are rare and there is little evidence that this is an adequate or timely remedy for improper actions. There is no judicially supervised system of bail, but at the discretion of public security officials some detainees are released pending further investigation. Political dissidents are often detained or charged for having committed "crimes of counterrevolution" under Articles 90 through 104 of the Criminal Law. Counterrevolutionary offenses range from treason and espionage to spreading counter- revolutionary 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 also possible. 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. Legal provisions requiring family notification and limiting length of detention are often ignored in political cases. Liao Jia'an, a university student in Beijing detained in 1992 for peaceful expression of his political views, was held for a year before being formally arrested in mid-1993 for counterrevolutionary crimes. A well-documented estimate of the total number of those subjected to new or continued arbitrary arrest or detention for political reasons is not possible due to the Government's tight control of information. Individuals reported detained are sometimes released without charge after several days or weeks of interrogation. There were several reported lengthier detentions of dissidents, including Sun Lin, Wang Miaogen, and Zhang Xianliang, in Shanghai during 1993. Sun was released in August after 5 months in detention. Democracy activists Qin Yongmin, Yang Zhou, and Zheng Xuguang were detained in November in connection with the formation of a group called the "Peace Charter." Yang Zhou was released from detention on December 31, but the authorities had not provided information on the status or location of the other peace charter detainees. Several dozen Tibetans were also reported to have been detained after participation in proindependence demonstrations or activities (see Section 5). Gendun Rinchen, a Tibetan tour guide who had been detained in May 1993, was released on January 14, 1994 e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Officials insist that China's judiciary is independent but acknowledge that it is subject to the Communist Party's policy guidance. In actuality, party and government leaders almost certainly 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 people's courts. Due process rights are provided for in the Constitution but are often ignored in practice. Both before and after trial, prisoners are subject to severe psychological pressure to confess their "errors." Defendants who fail to "show the right 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 is not automatically excluded as evidence. According to judicial officials, however, confessions without corroborating evidence are an insufficient basis for conviction. Accused persons are given virtually no opportunity to prepare a defense in the pretrial process, during which the question of guilt or innocence is essentially decided administratively. Defense lawyers may be 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 adjudication of certain serious criminal cases. Persons appearing before a court are not presumed innocent; despite official denials, trials are essentially sentencing hearings. Conviction rates average over 99 percent. There is an appeal process, but initial decisions are rarely overturned, and appeals generally do not provide meaningful protection against arbitrary or erroneous verdicts. Like the initial court verdict, the judgment of the Appeals Court is subject to Communist Party "guidance." Under the Criminal Procedure Law, persons "exempted from prosecution" by procurators are deemed to have a criminal record, despite the lack of a judicial determination of guilt. Such provisions can be applied in "counterrevolutionary crimes" as well as for ordinary criminal offenses. In August Shanghai activists Sun Lin, Yao Tiansheng, and Han Lifa were "exempted from prosecution" for counterrevolutionary offenses and released. Some officials have acknowledged that trials in China are conducted too rapidly. These officials state that China's 70,000 lawyers, most of whom are engaged in commercial law, are insufficient to meet the country's expanding legal needs and point to the Government's intention to increase this number to at least 150,000. Knowledgeable observers report that defense attorneys appear in only a small number of criminal trials. Under Chinese law, there is no requirement that the court appoint a defense attorney for the defendant unless the defendant is deaf, dumb, or a minor. When attorneys do appear, they have little time to prepare a defense and rarely contest guilt; their function is generally confined 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 persons accused of political offenses. The need for adequate, independent legal aid is increasingly understood in legal circles and within the Government. In many cities, law firms are being organized outside the framework of established government legal offices. These firms are self-regulating and do not have their personnel or budgets determined directly by the State. The Minister of Justice announced in October that China would gradually increase the number of autonomous law firms from the current total of 410. 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" charges, 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 public trial in cases involving "counterrevolution." Lack of due process is particularly egregious when defendants receive the death sentence. Chinese officials refuse to provide comprehensive statistics on death sentences or executions, but hundreds of executions are officially reported annually. The actual numbers may be much higher. All death sentences are nominally reviewed by a higher court. Reviews are usually completed within a few days after sentencing and consistently result in a perfunctory confirmation of sentence. However, no executions for political offenses are known to have occurred in 1993. 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. In 1990 Chinese officials stated that 869,934 Chinese citizens had been assigned to these camps since 1980, with about 80,000 assigned each year. Chinese officials reported 120,000 prisoners were undergoing "reeducation through labor" at the end of 1993. Other estimates of the number of inmates are considerably higher. Terms of detention run from a normal minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years. The "labor reeducation" committee which determines the term of detention may extend an inmate's sentence for an additional year. Under a State Council regulation issued in early 1991, those sentenced to "reeducation through labor" may ask the committee to reconsider their decision. Since 1990, "reeducation through labor" sentences may also be judicially challenged under the Administrative Procedures Law. While some persons have gained reduction or withdrawal of their sentence after reconsideration or appeal, in practice these procedures are rarely used, and short appeal times, lack of access to lawyers, and other problems weaken their potential assistance in preventing or reversing arbitrary decisions. The system of "reeducation through labor" sometimes is used by security authorities to deal with political and other offenders without reference to even the nominal procedures and protections the formal criminal process offers. In Shanghai, Fu Shenqi and Zhang Xianliang were given 3-year "reeducation through labor" sentences in July for "provoking incidents" and "inciting trouble" which disturbed public order. Government officials deny that China has any political prisoners, asserting that persons are detained not for the political views they hold, but because they have taken some action which violates the Criminal Law. The number of persons in Chinese penal institutions considered political prisoners by international standards is impossible to estimate accurately. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of political prisoners remained imprisoned or detained. Estimates by some foreign researchers of the number of political prisoners are much higher. Many if not most people held for political offenses are charged as counterrevolutionaries. Chinese officials said in December there were 3,172 persons serving sentences for counter- revolutionary crimes, down from a figure of 3,317 given to an American human rights monitor in October. As part of the October figure, officials also indicated that 560 persons convicted of counterrevolutionary crimes had been paroled. Those convicted of counterrevolutionary crimes make up 0.2 percent of the total prisoner population of 1.22 million, but they are about 5 percent of total parolees. As recently as November 1992, an Australian delegation was told there were 4,000 in prison for counterrevolutionary crimes. All these estimates almost certainly include a substantial number of persons convicted of espionage or other internationally recognized criminal offenses. At the same time, the figures exclude many political prisoners detained but not charged, persons held in labor reeducation camps and an undetermined number of persons sentenced for criminal offenses due solely to their nonviolent political or religious activities. Many prominent activists, including Chen Ziming, Wang Juntao, and Liu Gang (all three held since 1989), remained imprisoned in 1993. Some persons detained for political reasons were released on parole before the end of their sentences. Those released early included longtime political prisoners Wei Jingsheng, Wang Xizhe, and Xu Wenli, and Tiananmen-related detainees Wang Dan, Gao Shan, Zhai Weimin, Wu Xuecan, and Guo Haifeng. Shanghai activist Fu Shenqi was released in March but reimprisoned on other charges in June. Even after release, such persons have a criminal record, and their status in society, ability to be employed, freedom to travel, and numerous other aspects of their lives are often severely restricted. Economic reform and social change have somewhat diminished these problems, but some people continue to experience serious hardships. For example, the families of political prisoners sometimes encounter difficulty in obtaining or keeping employment and housing. Zhang Fengying, wife of imprisoned activist Ren Wanding, remained in poor housing conditions in 1993. Zhang and her teenage daughter were evicted from their apartment in 1992. Ren's work unit owns the apartment. While the work unit asserted it wanted to reassign the housing to another worker, the apartment reportedly has remained vacant. 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 marry or have a child, approval to apply for a passport, and other aspects of ordinary life. 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 work units, are undermining the effectiveness of this system. Search warrants are required by law before security forces can search premises, but this provision is often ignored. In addition, both the Public Security Bureau and procuracy apparently can issue search warrants on their own authority. The 1982 Constitution states that "freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens ... are protected by law," but, according to a Western expert on Chinese law, legislation for this purpose does not exist. In practice, some telephone conversations are recorded, and mail is frequently opened and censored. The Government often monitors and sometimes restricts contact between foreigners and Chinese citizens, particularly dissidents. The Government has continued its effort to control citizens' access to outside sources of information, selectively jamming Chinese language broadcasts of the Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Despite the effort made to jam VOA, the effectiveness of the jamming varies considerably by region, with audible signals reaching most parts of China. A small but rapidly growing segment of the population has access to satellite television broadcasts. Authorities issued new regulations on the installation and operation of satellite dishes in October, requiring permits for operation and banning private ownership and operation except under limited circumstances. However, China has not been very successful in implementing past regulations restricting the use of satellite dishes. Satellite television dishes are widely available for sale, and a licensing scheme which nominally controls purchase of the equipment is loosely enforced. China's population has roughly doubled in the past 40 years to nearly 1.2 billion people, over a fifth of all humanity. 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, usually issued by their work units, to have a second child is very difficult. 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, varying 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 and educational benefits. Disciplinary measures against those who violate the policy include stiff fines, 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 may be levied against local officials and the mothers' work units, many persons are affected, providing multiple sources of pressure. Physical compulsion to submit to abortion or sterilization is not authorized, but Chinese officials acknowledge privately that there are still instances of forced abortions and sterilizations in remote, rural areas. Officials maintain that, when discovered, abuses by local officials result in discipline or retraining. They admit, however, that stronger punishment is rare and have not documented any cases where punishment has occurred. A sharp reported drop in fertility rates in 1991-92 sparked concern about a possible upturn in incidents of coercion. One cause for worry about such increased pressures was a policy change in early 1991 making local political officials more directly responsible for success in meeting family quotas. There was strong evidence, however, that the magnitude of the reported fertility drop was sharply exaggerated, in part because the policy change intensified strong existing incentives for officials and families to underreport births. 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 officials say they oppose such legislation, but the Government has taken no action to overturn 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 an easing of the limits imposed during the post-Tiananmen crackdown. Citizens are not permitted to publish or broadcast criticism of senior leaders or opinions that contradict basic Communist Party doctrine which provides for a Socialist state under the party's control, or to make speeches which contain such criticism or opinions. The Government interprets the Communist Party's "leading role" as circumscribing the various individual rights guaranteed in the Constitution. People who violate these quidelines are warned and often punished. Gao Yu, a former writer of a now banned periodical, was charged in October with "leaking state secrets abroad" in connection with articles published in Hong Kong. Xi Yang, a Hong Kong reporter, was detained in September for "stealing" financial secrets in connection with articles published in Hong Kong. Domestic television and radio broadcasting and the press remain under party and government control and are used to propagate the currently acceptable ideological line. A more lively tabloid sector continued to expand in 1993, and the circulation of major propaganda-oriented dailies continued to slip. Radio talk shows also flourished and, although they generally avoided politically sensitive subjects, they provided some opportunity for Chinese to discuss, and sometimes question officials about, public issues, including corruption. Under official pressure, the film "Farewell My Concubine," which caused controversy because of its implicit criticism of the cultural revolution and portrayal of a homosexual relationship, was withdrawn from distribution in July after showings in Beijing and Shanghai. After further editing, it was rereleased in September. The Government has continued to impose tight controls on colleges, universities, and research institutes. However, Beijing University and Shanghai's Fudan University stopped sending students to a full year of training and ideological indoctrination at military camps, a requirement imposed in 1989. The heavy ideological control of academic institutions and media censorship continued to force Chinese journalists and scholars to exercise caution in 1993. Many scholars, including some of China's most prominent, have been deterred from exercising free speech and have declined opportunities to publish or present papers on subjects that they fear could be construed as sensitive. On some less sensitive but still controversial subjects, such as economic policy, legal reform and even civil rights issues, the Government has tolerated more vigorous public discussion. Some authors who were considered politically unacceptable after 1989, such as legal scholar Yu Haocheng, were able to overcome bans and regain at least limited ability to get articles published in 1993. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association While the Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and association, these rights are severely restricted in practice. The Constitution provides, for example, that such activities may not infringe "upon the interests of the State," and in practice protests against the political system or its leaders are proscribed. Demonstrations involving expression of dissident political views are denied permits and suppressed if held. Qin Yongmin was briefly detained several times when he attempted to leave his native Wuhan for Beijing to protest against the capital's bid to host the Olympic Games in the year 2000 (see Section 1.d). However, some small-scale demonstrations on nonpolitical grievances are tolerated in practice. In February there were two small demonstrations at the gate of the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing by women laid off from a state steel firm. In August authorities also tolerated generally peaceful demonstrations in several provinces by Muslims, sometimes numbering in the thousands, who were protesting a book they found offensive. The book was subsequently banned. Demonstrators protesting the same book in Qinghai in October, however, were met with force when Muslim demonstrators threatened to take their protest to Beijing. According to credible reports, there were at least nine deaths. Public security forces acted with more restraint than in the past to demonstrations in Lhasa in May, which began with a small protest on economic grievances but attracted hundreds of additional participants, including many who shouted proindependence slogans and some who threw rocks. Several dozen persons were believed to have been at least briefly detained in the wake of the protests, but reports of a handful of deaths or serious injuries from the impact of tear gas projectiles appeared to be erroneous. According to human rights organizations, smaller scale protests were reported to have occurred frequently in the Tibetan capital and resulted in swift detention for the participants. Gendun Rinchen and Lobsang Yonten were detained in May, apparently because of alleged proindependence activities, and they were held through the remainder of the year before being released in January 1994. Tibetan political prisoners like Yulo Dawa Tsering, Ngawang Pulchung, and Jempel Tsering remained imprisoned in 1993. While repression continued, there was at the same time a continuation of limited dialog on Tibet with representatives of the Dalai Lama. The Communist Party organizes and controls most professional and other mass associations. All 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 organizations. They have also been used to disband groups, such as unregistered house churches, deemed potentially subversive. Security forces maintain a close watch on groups formed outside the party establishment. c. Freedom of Religion Religious freedom in China is subject to restrictions of varying severity. While the Constitution affirms toleration of religious beliefs, the Government restricts religious practice outside officially recognized and government-controlled religious organizations. The management and control of religion is the responsibility of religious affairs bureaus, which are staffed by officials who rarely are believers in religion. Communist 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 state-owned businesses. The Government, after forcefully suppressing all religious observances during the 1966-76 cultural revolution, began in the late 1970's to restore or replace confiscated churches, temples, mosques, and monasteries. The official 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 clergy. The Government permitted Catholic seminarians from several cities to go to the United States in 1993 for additional religious studies. There have also been increased contacts between China and the Vatican. The Government supervises the publication of religious material for distribution to ensure religious and political conformity. Religious books are not permitted in ordinary bookstores, and there are persistent complaints that the number of Bibles and amounts of other religious materials allowed to be printed fall far short of demand. Religious proselytizing is officially 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 official channels is tolerated. Local authorities have confiscated private property under the guise of searching for illegal religious materials. Officially sanctioned religious organizations are permitted to maintain international contacts as long as these do not entail foreign control, but proselytizing by foreign groups is forbidden by law and regulation. 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 are from the dominant Han ethnic group. Other Buddhists belong to Tibetan, Mongolian, and other ethnic groups. Han Buddhist leaders generally cooperate with the Government, and there have been few complaints of government restrictions. In Tibet, however, where Buddhism and Tibetan nationalism are closely intertwined, relations between Buddhists and secular authorities continued to be tense in 1993. The Government 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 tolerated the open veneration of the Dalai Lama by Tibetans. The Government has spent large amounts of money on reconstruction of the main sacred sites, including the Potala Palace and a grand stupa to house the remains of the 10th Panchen Lama. Chinese officials have also publicly asked the Dalai Lama to assist in the process of finding the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, who died in 1989. The practice of religion in Tibet is hampered, however, by the limits the Government imposes on religious education and on the number of monks in the religious community compared to traditional norms. Monks at some Tibetan monasteries known for their opposition to Chinese rule face severe travel restrictions and intense monitoring. According to government figures, there are 17 million Muslims in China. In some areas with large Muslim populations, there continues to be concern regarding restrictions on the building of mosques and the religious education of youths under 18. Following the 1990 unrest in Xinjiang, the authorities issued regulations further restricting religious activities and teaching. China permits Muslim citizens to make the hajj to Mecca, and the number of those making the hajj has significantly increased in recent years. Nongovernment sources indicate that about 5,000 Chinese made the hajj in 1992. The number of Christians has grown rapidly in recent years, albeit from a small base. Only those Christian churches affiliated with either the Catholic Patriotic Association or the (Protestant) Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which the Government established in the 1950's to eliminate perceived foreign domination of Christian groups, may operate openly. Active unofficial religious movements pose an alternative to the state-regulated churches. The unofficial, Vatican- affiliated, Catholic Church claims a membership far larger than the 3.7 million registered with the official Catholic church, though actual figures are unknown. In addition to the 5 million persons who are officially counted as following Protestantism, a large number of Protestants worship privately in "house churches" that are independent of government control. Sporadic repression in some areas has reflected official concern over the Government's inability to control the rapid growth of membership in Christian groups. There continued to be credible reports in 1993 of efforts by authorities in some areas to rein in activities of the unapproved Catholic and Protestant movements, including raiding and closing a number of unregistered churches. In March public security officials disrupted a Protestant religious gathering in Shaanxi, beating many of those present. One man beaten later died, apparently of wounds suffered in the incident (see Section 1.a.). However, authorities in many areas tolerate the existence of unofficial Catholic and Protestant churches as long as they remain small and discreet. In some parts of China, official and underground churches seem to coexist and even cooperate. The Guangzhou House Church of Pastor Samuel Lamb (Lin Xiangao) continued to operate openly, although with frequent harassment by authorities. A number of religious activists remained imprisoned in 1993, but others were released. There was some evidence that authorities have increasingly used short-term detentions, rather than long prison terms when dealing with unauthorized religious activities. Some of those released from penal detention were apparently placed under house arrest or other restrictions. The number of Catholic clerics in penal detention dropped sharply in 1992 and 1993, although the whereabouts of some reported to have been released could not be confirmed, and others remained under some restrictions. Catholic Gansu bishop Casimir Wang Milu and Hebei priest Pei Ronggui were released from long-term imprisonment during the year. Ministry of Public Security officials told a visiting U.S. official in October that there were no Catholic clerics remaining in detention. In November Bishop Peter Chen Jianzhang and auxiliary bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang were reportedly released from either prison or house arrest in "old people's homes." d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation The Government uses an identification card system to control and restrict individual residence location within the country. This system's effectiveness has eroded during China's shift to a more market-oriented economy. The need for a supplemental work force in the areas of fastest economic growth has led to official tolerance for a large itinerant population which is not in compliance with formal requirements to obtain permission to change residence. However, because this itinerant population lacks official status, access to housing, schooling, and the full range of employment opportunities can be restricted. Some former inmates have been denied permission, under the "staying at prison employment" system, to return to their homes, a provision applicable to those incarcerated in both the "reform through labor" and the "reeducation through labor" systems. For those assigned to camps far from their residences, this constitutes a form of internal exile. The number of prisoners subject to this restriction is unknown. A Vice Minister of Justice told a British human rights delegation in late 1992 that no former prisoners were subject to such restrictions. The Government routinely permits legal emigration and most foreign travel but has placed obstacles in the way of foreign travel by a few citizens on political or other grounds. Legal scholar Yu Haocheng continued to be unable to obtain permission to travel abroad. These obstacles extend to some dissidents' family members who have not themselves been active politically or accused of any wrongdoing by the Government. Other dissidents, including Hou Xiaotian, Li Honglin, and Qian Liyun, were eventually able to obtain the passports and exit permits needed to leave the country. Regulations issued in 1990 require those college and university graduates who received free postsecondary education to repay the cost of their education to the State by working for 5 years 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 exempting them from the work requirement. Implementation of these regulations has varied from place to place, and most students wishing to go abroad still managed to obtain passports. Persons subject to the regulations on study abroad appear to have had little trouble obtaining passports to visit relatives overseas. Political attitudes, however, are still a major criterion in selecting people for government-sponsored study abroad. The Government has made a concerted effort to attract back to China persons who have studied overseas. To reassure them, Chinese citizens who return from overseas were exempted in 1992 from re-exit formalities, which had involved Public Security Bureau clearances. However, official media have stated that, before returning home, people who have joined foreign organizations viewed by the Government as hostile to China should quit them and refrain from activities that violate Chinese Law. Procurator General Liu Fuzhi warned in 1992 that people wanted by the public security authorities were not covered by the official assurances extended to other overseas scholars. Some dissidents, such as Dai Qing and Liu Xiaobo, reentered China without incident in 1993. In August labor activist Han Dongfang, who had been allowed to leave for medical treatment in the United States in 1992, was expelled shortly after he returned. Han's passport was subsequently revoked by Chinese authorities on the grounds that he had engaged in activities hostile to China while overseas. Chinese border officials frustrated Han's several subsequent attempts to return to China. Another labor activist, Lu Jinghua, was refused entry in June when she arrived at the Beijing airport. Lu had fled China in 1989 before she could be arrested. A handful of prominent dissidents overseas continued to have difficulty extending or renewing passports. The Government accepts the repatriation of citizens who have entered other countries or territories illegally. In 1993, in addition to the routine return of Chinese illegal immigrants found in Hong Kong, China accepted the return of several large groups of illegal immigrants from other countries, including Mexico, Honduras, and the Marshall Islands. Citizens illegally smuggled to other countries are often detained for a short time after their return to China to determine their identity and any past criminal record or involvement in smuggling activities. As a deterrent and to recover repatriation costs, authorities in some areas levy a fine of about $1,000 equivalent on returnees. China does not have legislation in place that would allow it to grant refugee status and, with the exception of Vietnamese refugees of Chinese ancestry, has generally repatriated persons of other nationalities seeking to be recognized as refugees. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Public Security, and Civil Affairs, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are writing legislation that would allow China to honor its obligation as a party since 1982 to the 1967 protocol relative to the status of refugees. Although the Government denies having tightened its policy on accepting Vietnamese refugees, in recent years very few such refugees have actually been resettled in China. According to the UNHCR, from 1989 to 1992 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. China has cooperated with Hong Kong to reduce the flow of Vietnamese refugees into the colony. China has not participated in the Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated at the International Conference on Indochinese Refugees in 1989 but generally has abided by its principles. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens lack the means to change their government legally and can not freely choose or change the laws and officials that govern them. Citizens vote directly only for county-level people's congress delegates. People's congress delegates at the provincial level are selected by county-level people's congresses, and in turn provincial-level people's congresses select delegates to the National People's Congress. According to the 1982 Constitution, the National People's Congress (NPC) is the highest organ of state power. It elects 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 are under the tight control of the Communist Party. In some elections, voters are offered more candidates than positions, allowing a modest degree of choice among officially approved candidates. There were credible reports in 1993 that the candidates most favored by authorities were defeated in a handful of county-level elections and in at least two elections of governors by provincial people's congresses. As is the case with the NPC, the election and agenda of people's congresses at other levels also remain under tight control by the Communist Party, the paramount source of political authority in China. The Constitution was amended in 1993 to ratify the existence of small "democratic" parties, but these play only a minor consultative role at most, and all pledge allegiance to the Communist Party. Thus, the Communist Party retains an explicit monopoly on political decision- making. The requirement that associations register and be approved makes it difficult for independent interest groups to form and affect the system. Within the Communist 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 Central Military Commission, or other organs, while others who are nominally retired wield great influence on at least selected issues. Reversing previous moves to separate the party and government apparatus, at the National People's Congress in April General Secretary Jiang Zemin and several other senior party members were named to hold concurrent government positions. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are no independent Chinese organizations that publicly monitor or comment on human rights conditions in China. The Government has made it clear it will not tolerate the existence of such groups. Authorities in Shanghai took no action on a March application by several persons to register a proposed "human rights association." Public criticism of the Government's human rights record can be interpreted as "counterrevolutionary" activity and punished accordingly. Limited academic study and discussion of concepts of human rights have been promoted since 1991. Research institutes in Shanghai and Beijing, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, have organized symposia on human rights, established human rights research centers, and visited other nations to study human rights practices in these 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 human rights record. Whatever the motivation, this process of study and dialog has exposed more Chinese to international standards and concepts of human rights. Three official White Papers on human rights subjects were published in 1991 and 1992. While the reports stridently defended Chinese practices and glossed over fundamental problems, they sparked a limited debate among academic experts on human rights problems in China that continued in 1993. Despite the Government's professed adherence to the United Nations Charter, which mandates respect for and promotion of human rights, Chinese officials accept only in theory the principle that human rights are universal. They argue that each nation has its own concept of human rights, grounded in its political, economic, and social system and its historical, religious, and cultural background. China was active in international forums, including the World Conference on Human Rights in June and the annual U.N. Commission on Human Rights meeting in February, in support of this view and to deflect attempts to discuss China's human rights record. China remains reluctant to accept criticism of its human rights situation by other nations or international organizations. Its officials often criticized reports by international human rights monitoring groups, as well as past Department of State reports on human rights practices in China. By and large, Chinese officials continue to insist that criticism of China's human rights practices constitutes interference in China's internal affairs. Nevertheless, in 1993 Chinese authorities expanded their dialog with foreign governments on human rights issues in talks with a number of visiting delegations from the United States and other countries and also during visits abroad by Chinese leaders. Chinese authorities have refused most requests by foreign human rights delegations to meet with political prisoners but did allow U.S. human rights officials to visit Yulo Dawa Tsering in Drapchi prison in Lhasa in October. Representatives of some international human rights groups visited China in 1993 but did so in an individual capacity and did not engage in an official dialog with the Government. A private American human rights monitor, however, did meet with midranking government officials on several occasions to discuss specific human rights cases. Finally, while China has continued to engage in a human rights dialog with foreign critics, it has consistently taken the position that human rights practices should be assessed not on the basis of universal principles but rather in the context of local economic, political, and cultural conditions. The Government also maintains that human rights issues are internal matters and that external intervention on human rights issues constitutes interference with its sovereignty. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status While laws exist to protect minorities and women, in practice discrimination based on ethnicity, sex, and religion has persisted. Minorities, however, do benefit from an official policy of "privileged treatment" in marriage policy, family planning, university admission, and employment, as well as from disproportionate infrastructure investment in some minority areas. Women The 1982 Constitution states that "women in the People's Republic of China enjoy 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 significant influence within the party or government structure. Persistent problems have remained with regard to the status of women, who have often been the unintended victims of reforms designed to streamline enterprises and give workers greater job mobility. Many employers prefer to hire men to avoid the expense of maternity leave and child care. Reports by women of discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair dismissal, demotion, and wage cuts have continued. In 1992 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 class, particularly the highly educated. The Government continued in 1993 to condemn strongly and take steps to prevent and punish the abduction and sale of women for wives and prostitutes, abuse of female children, violence against women, and female infanticide. It has severely punished a number of people accused of such crimes. No nationwide statistics were available on the extent of physical violence against women. A May study on family violence reported that in Shanghai from 29 to 33 percent of domestic disputes from 1991-92 involved physical violence. In another 1993 study on the social status of women, 21.2 percent of urban wives and 31.4 percent of rural wives said there was frequent or occasional violence during family quarrels. The abduction of women remains a serious problem in some areas where local officials have resisted efforts of central authorities to stop it. 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 higher economic value of boys in providing old age support by establishing or improving pensions and retirement homes. In many areas, the ready availability of sonograms has facilitated selective abortion of female fetuses, contributing to a growing gap in the ratio of reported male and female births. Insistence that local units meet population goals exacerbates the problem, since traditional-minded parents often wish to ensure they have one or more sons without incurring official penalties. The Government has condemned sex-selective abortion and stated it is tightening access to sonogram results. Children China does not condone violence against children, and physical abuse can be grounds for criminal prosecution. In January 1992, China passed a national law on the protection of juveniles. According to Chinese media, China's infant mortality rate has declined to 45 per 1,000 live births, severe malnutrition among children under 5 years of age has been "virtually eliminated," 95 percent of children have received immunizations, and primary school enrollment is at 97 percent. In January an English-language magazine reported on the problem of child abuse, noting that physical punishment was widespread, citing four cases from 1992 where children died from abuse. According to one study from Zhejiang province, 60 percent of 200 children surveyed said they would be beaten if they did not do well in school. In addition, Chinese officials indicated in October that there were about 200,000 homeless children in China out of a total of 300 million children under age 18. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 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 living patterns. The Dalai Lama continued to state his concern in 1993 that the Government's plan to develop Tibet's economy would lead to a massive influx into Tibet of Han Chinese. Tens of thousands of non-Tibetan entrepreneurs without residence permits have come to Lhasa, capital of Tibet, to engage in business. In some instances, the Government has tried to adopt policies responsive to minority sensitivities but in doing so has encountered the dilemma of how to respect minority cultures without damaging minority educational and economic opportunities. In Tibet and Xinjiang, for example, there are two-track school systems using standard Chinese and minority languages. Students may choose which system to attend. One acknowledged 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, which require good spoken Chinese, in government and business. These graduates must take remedial language instruction before attending universities and colleges. The Communist Party has an avowed policy of boosting minority representation in the Government and the party, and a few members of minorities occupy local and national leadership positions. However, ethnic minorities are effectively shut out of most positions of real political and decisionmaking power. Some minorities resent Han officials holding key positions in minority autonomous regions. Ethnic minorities in Tibet, Xinjiang, Qinghai, and elsewhere have demonstrated against Han Chinese authority, but central authorities have made it clear that they will not tolerate opposition to Beijing's rule in minority regions. People with Disabilities There is no legislation to ensure that buildings, even new ones, are accessible to those with handicaps. A State Council committee was established in October to coordinate policy toward the disabled under China's 1990 law on the handicapped. The results of the eighth 5-year plan for handicapped people, which ended in 1992, were discussed in October; schools for the disabled increased from 400 in 1988 to 1,000 in 1992, and special education increased six-fold. But according to the Disabled Person's Federation, only 6 percent of disabled school-age children are receiving primary education. There are 40,000 welfare enterprises nationwide providing work for the handicapped, and 1.26 million have benefited from rehabilitation projects. Concern that the disabled will lose jobs as enterprises emphasize productivity has led to the creation of a pilot project in which all state enterprises will be required to hire a certain number of disabled workers. The handicapped still suffer from social isolation, especially in rural areas, and some handicapped children are given to orphanages. At the end of December, the Government announced plans to adopt a new law on eugenics, but specifics of the law were not available at year's end. 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 Chinese Communist Party. The country's sole officially recognized workers' organization, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), ostensibly independent, is in fact controlled by the Communist Party. Independent trade unions are illegal. Though union officials recognize that workers' interests may not always coincide with those of the Communist Party, the Union Law passed by the National People's Congress in March 1992 states that the union is a party organ and its primary purpose is to mobilize workers for national development. The 1993 revised Trade Union Law requires that the establishment of unions at any level be submitted to a higher level trade union organization for approval. The ACFTU is the highest such organization, and it has not approved the establishment of any independent unions. While the foreign press has reported that some exist, because of severe repression they operate only deep within the shadows. The vast majority of workers have no contact with any union other than the ACFTU. There are no provisions allowing for individual workers or unofficial worker organizations to affiliate with international bodies. The ACFTU's primary attention remains focused on its traditional constituency, state sector workers. The Trade Union Law mandates that workers may decide whether to join the union in their enterprise. By official estimate, 10 percent of workers in collectively and state-owned enterprises have chosen for their own reasons not to join. There have been no reports of repercussions for workers who have not joined ACFTU unions. Diversification of enterprise types over the last decade of reform has vastly increased the number of workers outside this traditional sphere of the ACFTU. In fact, over half of China's nonagricultural work force is now largely nonunion and outside the state industrial structure--in collectives, village and township enterprises, private and individual enterprises, and foreign-invested enterprises. In township and village enterprises, one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, only one-tenth of 1 percent of workers are unionized. 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. According to Ministry of Labor national statistics, 30 percent of foreign-invested companies now have unions. Other official estimates show that about 10,000 trade unions with a total of 500,000 members have been established in the nearly 20,000 foreign-funded companies in Guangdong province. However, a 1993 embassy survey of foreign-invested ventures in Beijing indicated the unionization rate diminished from 60 percent in 1991 to 40 percent in 1993. The right to strike, which had been included in China's 1975 and 1978 constitutions, was not retained in the 1982 Constitution. In general, the union law passed in 1992 assigned unions the role of mediators or go-betweens with management in cases of work stoppages or slowdowns. Nonetheless, well-documented work stoppages occurred in several locations in China during 1993. There were two highly visible strikes in Guangdong's Zhuhai City, namely a 3-day strike over wages at a joint-venture camera factory and a work stoppage at a joint-venture electrical components factory. Ministry of Labor officials broke with their past practice of denying the existence of strikes in China by giving details about recent strikes in Tianjin and Xian. Strikes in 11 foreign-invested enterprises in Tianjin were widely reported in the Chinese press. One particularly high profile case involved a foreign-owned footwear factory at which 1,200 workers struck over poor working conditions and alleged mistreatment of several of the workers by the management. The 11 enterprises were held up as examples of disregard for local regulations by foreigners and indications of the need to establish unions in foreign-invested enterprises. Strikes were uniformly resolved in favor of workers, and enterprises were required to bring facilities up to regulatory standards. Ministry of Labor officials have not provided any statistics on how many strikes occurred in 1993, but one Hong Kong newspaper reported that in the first half of 1993 there were 190 strikes and protests across China involving about 50,000 workers. It is not possible to determine the validity of this estimate. Credible reports by foreign human rights organizations indicate that the Government has attempted to stamp out all clandestine union activity and that independent unions and worker groups feature prominently in lists of illegal organizations. In May four men were detained and later formally arrested for the crime of organizing a counterrevolutionary organization, the Shanghai Autonomous Workers Federation. Two of these men were released in early September. As noted in Section 2.d., labor activists Han Dongfang and Lu Jinghua have been refused reentry to China. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) alleges that in May and June of 1992 the Public Security Bureau (PSB) secretly arrested activists of the clandestine China Free Trade Union Preparatory Committee and appeared to have dismantled this organization. On May 15 another clandestine union group, the Free Trade Union of China, issued a manifesto. Preemptive arrests took place just before the June 4 Tiananmen anniversary. These included seven members of the clandestine Liberal Workers Union detained by the PSB to prevent them from circulating commemorative leaflets. Accurate figures on the number of Worker Autonomous Federation detainees still being held after the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations are not available. The ICFTU alleges that hundreds of workers are still being held. In response to an ICFTU complaint, the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in March requested that the Government modify "many provisions" of the Trade Union Act that are contrary to the principle of freedom of association, expressed concern at the severity of sanctions pronounced by the courts against members or leaders of Workers' Autonomous Federations, and asked that detained workers be released. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively Under a 1988 law and current regulations, collective bargaining is permitted only by workers in private enterprises (which employ less than 3 percent of workers). There have been no reports of collective bargaining actually taking place. Most private enterprises are small and nonunionized. Thus far, 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 with protecting workers' living standards in areas such as unemployment insurance. Before wage reform, workers' salaries were set according to a uniform national scale based on seniority and skills. Following wage reforms, a total wage bill for each collectively and state-owned enterprise is set by the Ministry of Labor according to four criteria: 1) As a percentage of profits, 2) as a contract amount with the local labor bureau, 3) for money losing enterprises, according to a state-set amount, and 4) as an enterprise-set amount subject to ministry review. Individual enterprises determine how to divide the total among the workers, a decision usually made by the enterprise manager in consultation with the enterprise party chief and the union representative. Worker congresses have mandated authority to review plans for wage reform, though these bodies serve primarily as rubber stamp organizations. Wages are generally equal for the same type of work within enterprises. Incentives are provided for increased productivity. The old permanent employment system is giving way to a more flexible contract-based system. However, the percentage of workers laboring under contract is still low, approximately 40 percent nationwide in state enterprises. Under the Labor Contract System, individual workers may negotiate with management over contract terms. In practice, only the very few workers with highly technical skills are able to negotiate effectively on salary and fringe benefits issues. 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. However, worker congresses generally take place once a year and serve essentially to rubberstamp agreements worked out among factory managers, party secretaries, and union representatives. In smaller enterprises it is not unusual to find these three posts held by the same person. A dispute settlement procedure has been in effect since 1987. The procedure provides for two levels of arbitration committees and a final appeal to the courts. Of the 50,000 cases brought for arbitration in 1992, most were resolved at the first or second level, with less than 5 percent reaching the courts. According to Labor Ministry officials, most arbitration cases are filed by contract workers or their employers, an indication, they assert, that the new contract system provides a clearer set of ground rules which both sides can attempt to enforce. Laws governing working conditions in China's special economic zones (SEZ's) are not significantly different from those in the rest of the country. However, wages in the SEZ's are significantly higher than in other Chinese enterprises. Unskilled laborers can expect much higher pay in southern China generally, but highly skilled workers are the main beneficiaries of the wage discrepancy. The 1982 Trade Union Law prohibits antiunion discrimination and specifies that union representatives may not be transferred or terminated by enterprise management during their term of office. Unionized foreign businesses generally report pragmatic relations with ACFTU representatives. The ACFTU's stated goal is to establish unions in all foreign-funded enterprises within 2 to 3 years. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 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 facilities. Almost all persons the courts sentence to prison, 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 l.e.), the inmates of which generally must work. Reports from human rights organizations and released prisoners demonstrate that at least some persons in pretrial detention are also required to work. The number of workers in prison for nonviolent labor-related activity is not known. (See Section 1.e.) According to prison authorities, prisoners 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 heavier emphasis on education than on labor. Most reports conclude that work conditions in the penal system's light manufacturing factories are similar to those in ordinary factories, but conditions on farms and in mines can be harsh. As is the case nationwide, safety is often neglected, putting prisoners at risk, but there were no available figures for casualties in prison industry. Some penal facilities contract with regular industries for prisoners to perform light manufacturing and assembly work. In 1992 Chinese newspapers reported that Chinese prison labor is used for many types of production (examples in parentheses), including heavy industry (coal, steel), light manufacturing (clothing, shoes, small machine tools), and agriculture (grain, tea, sugar cane). In 1991 the Chinese Government published a reiteration of its regulations barring the export of prison-made goods. On August 7, 1992, the U.S. and Chinese Governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) prohibiting trade in prison labor products. The U.S. Customs Service has issued detention orders barring a number of products reportedly made by prisoners from entering the United States and detained several shipments of such goods in 1993. Under the MOU the Chinese have provided requested investigation reports on 31 suspected facilities. Five facilities investigated by the Chinese were found to have had prisoners engaged in some aspect of export production at some point in time, though not necessarily to the United States; of these, two with export activities at the time of the investigation reportedly received unspecified administrative sanctions. U.S. officials have conducted on-site visits of three suspected facilities and another facility visit has already been scheduled. The detention orders on two of the visited facilities were lifted, one in December 1993 and one in January 1994. The other case is still under study. d. Minimum Age 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. Press reports indicate that dropout rates for lower secondary schools (ages 12-15 years) in several southern provinces exceed 9 percent (the national average is 2.2 percent). This suggests the booming economy in that region is enticing more children to leave their studies to find jobs. In poorer, isolated areas, child labor in agriculture is widespread. Most independent observers agree with Chinese officials that China's urban child labor problem is relatively minor. No specific Chinese industry is identifiable as a significant violator of child labor regulations. In 1991 the State Council issued regulations imposing severe fines, withdrawal of business licenses, or jail for employers who hire laborers under 16 years of age. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work China does not have a labor code. A draft has been circulating since mid-1992. Due to the complexity of incorporating myriad existing regulations into the proposed unified code, it remains unclear if it will be made law. Labor regulations continue to be promulgated at both the national and provincial level, but they are not uniformly enforced. There is no minimum wage in China. However, the Ministry of Labor is currently drafting minimum wage regulations. Anticipating the issuance of the regulations, some local governments, particularly those in more highly developed east coast areas, have already drafted regulations on minimum wages. On the higher end, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, the minimum monthly wage has been set at $62 (350 yuan at the official exchange rate). Generally the levels have been set to provide for a decent standard of living for a worker and his family. Minimum wage figures do not include free or heavily subsidized benefits which employing work units commonly provide in kind, such as housing, medical care, and education. Factories or ministries are required to pay 70 percent of final monthly wages to workers laid off because of a factory closing or reduction in force, but there have been numerous reports of violations of this policy. The national standard workweek, excluding overtime, is 48 hours with a mandatory 24-hour rest period. In the past, 3 to 12 working hours per week were 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, factories (including joint ventures) were allowed to adopt shorter workweeks. Despite laws mandating a standard 8-hour workday throughout the country, there continue to be reports of workers in the SEZ's regularly working 12 hours daily. Occupational health and safety are constant themes of posters and campaigns. Every work unit must designate a health and safety officer and the International Labor Organization has established a training program for these officials. Moreover, while the right to strike is not provided for in the 1982 Constitution, the Trade Union Law explicitly recognizes the right of unions to "suggest that staff and workers withdraw from sites of danger" and to participate in accident investigations. Labor officials reported that such withdrawals did occur sometimes in 1993. Nonetheless, pressures for increased output, lack of financial resources to maintain equipment, lack of concern by management, and a traditionally poor understanding of safety issues by workers have contributed to a continuing high rate of accidents. State prosecutors deal annually with thousands of negligence and accident cases. In November 1992, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed a law on mining safety, which established standards and provided for enforcement, including fines and imprisonment. Labor officials were unable to provide statistics verifying the effects of the law, but they claimed that despite substantially increased across-the-board production in mining output, mine accidents were down in the first half of 1993. More than 15,000 workers died in industrial accidents in 1992, 63 percent of them miners. Because of the lack of legislation to bring together diverse and often unpublished regulations in other health and safety areas, compliance with existing regulations is haphazard. Official Chinese press reports in July announced the issuance of a State Council circular stressing safety in production following "sharp increases in job accidents in the first half of this year." Officials blame the increases on lax enforcement of safety regulations in the rapidly expanding rural, foreign-funded, and private industry sectors. As fires and explosions in southern China amply demonstrated in 1993, enforcement of China's safety regulations, particularly in the booming light industry sector, continued to be lax. In late November, 81 workers died in a blaze in a Shenzhen toy factory because safety precautions were not taken and warnings from the local labor ministry office had allegedly gone unheeded. (###)
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