Saturday, October 08, 2016

Remaking China in Our Own Image: The 2016 Report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. They have developed positions on a number of issues: Access to Justice; Civil Society;Commercial Rule of Law; Criminal Justice; Developments in Hong Kong and Macau ; The Environment ; Ethnic Minority Rights;Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Religion ; Freedom of Residence and Movement ; Human Trafficking ; Institutions of Democratic Governance ; North Korean Refugees in China; Population Planning ; Public Health ; Status of Women ; Tibet ; Worker Rights ; and Xinjiang.

CECC tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elites in the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China.

On October 6, CECC delivered its 2016 Annual Report. The Report is an excellent mirror of the way American political elites think about themselves and the U.S. socio-political system, as well as the way those basic ideals are transposed to an analysis of the socio-political system of China. And, of course, this ideological-principles foundation is overlaid with is a quite valuable window on ,the approach to American policy towards China. This observation is both descriptive and critical. It is critical in three respects.

First the CECC approach to Chinese analysis ensures a blindness to the realities of the Chinese situation, masked by an obsession to transpose American perspectives outward. The consequence is the production of flawed analysis and a likely inability to accurately predict and project Chinese sensibilities and political decision making. More importantly it will fail to adequately gauge the nature and character of Chinese mass sentiment. This critically flawed analytical approach fails the United States and the advancement of its own interests and ought to be understood a a gross failure of competence by those charged with the protection of the United States, its interests and people.

Second, the CECC misses an important opportunity to engage China and Chinese policies and practices on its own terms. The real tragedy of reports like this one is the missed opportunity to analyze the extent to which the Chinese Party and State have failed in their own core obligations to advance the Chinese Communist Party Basic Line. It represents a lost opportunity to suggest the possibility of alternative courses of action grounded in the General Program of the CCP and its constitutional obligations under its own Basic Line. That failure is not merely a tactical failure but a failure of leadership. The CECC misses an opportunity to provide leadership for those who seek--within the parameters of Chinese socio-political ideology--to approach the issues highlighted in the Report, in an alternative way. That possibility is hardly conceded by the ideologues whose views infuse this Report. And as a consequence there will be less rather than more effective communication between elites on both sides of the Pacific.

Third, reports like this one provide a very bad example and model that other states, and particularly the Chinese state will be using more efficiently and often against the United States in coming years. There is little doubt but that the CECC Report will be mirrored by an equally flawed Chinese Report on the state of human rights in the United States, one that highlights everything from voter suppression, to corruption and the racially tinged police killings in many parts of the United States. That is in its own way as unhelpful as the CECC Report is for China. Yet that is the template that is being advanced. It is a template that may work well for short term internally driven political agendas but it hardly serves its stated purpose of rigorous and dispassionate analysis of realities quite aware of the ideological contexts in which analysis must be made. Another tragedy of the way in which U.S. Chinese relations are perverted.

This post includes CECC press release, the transmittal letter to President Obama, and the Executive Summary and Recommendations of the 2016 Report.

CECC Releases 2016 Annual Report

CECC Releases 2016 Annual Report
Despite the expectations of many that economic engagement with China would lead to political reform, fifteen years after China’s accession to the WTO, the human rights situation there is increasingly dire.  The CECC’s latest report recommends Congress and the Administration press Beijing for greater transparency, adherence to universal standards, and development of the rule of law.  
Media Contact:  202-226-3777
October 6, 2016
(WASHINGTON, DC)—Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Chairmen U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the Commission’s bipartisan 2016 Annual Report, which provides detailed analysis of 19 issue areas regarding human rights and the rule of law, and offers specific recommendations on how progress can be made on these issues through the broader U.S.-China relationship.  The full report can be accessed on the CECC’s website ( 
“The Chinese government’s human rights record is utterly deplorable, continuing a downward trend over the past three years.  It is a dark time for China’s reformers, dissidents, and rights defenders as they face escalating repression and conditions deteriorated again last year,” said Representative Smith. “The Chinese government took extraordinary steps to decimate the ranks of human rights lawyers, crush independent civil society, and expand control over the Internet and the press. Coercive population control policies continued to mandate the size of Chinese families and contribute to one of the world’s worst human trafficking problems. New regulations will likely expand repression for religious communities, as the “sinicization” campaign aims to further politicize religious life.  Tibetans, Uyghurs, and North Koreans seeking asylum were less safe last year—facing detentions, torture, and deportations.  Detained Falun Gong practitioners, and other prisoners, were reportedly victims of the horrible crime of organ harvesting. Hong Kong continued to experience erosions to the guaranteed freedoms and autonomy it was promised by Beijing. President Xi Jinping has run roughshod over human rights and the U.S. government has only responded tepidly. It is time to recognize that the economic engagement strategy has failed, and new policy approaches must be developed that link our values and interests. A new U.S. policy approach that champions individual liberties is owed to the thousands of suffering prisoners of conscience in China, as documented by the thousands of cases in the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database. And, we owe it to future generations of Americans, whose security and prosperity will depend on a stable U.S.-China relationship that is more open and transparent; free of censorship and coercion; based on adherence to universal standards; and, hopefully, increasingly democratic.”
 “The Commission’s report paints an undeniably bleak situation of the deterioration of human rights and the rule of law in China, with especially grave consequences for civil society, religious believers, human rights lawyers, and labor activists,” said Senator Rubio. “Beijing has become increasingly brazen in exerting its extraterritorial reach in the past year, as evidenced by the outrageous abductions of the Hong Kong booksellers.  Fifteen years after China gained entry to the World Trade Organization, it’s time we take stock of our approach and recognize that despite what proponents at the time believed would happen, China has in fact used the international rules-based system to fuel vast economic growth, while further restricting freedom and increasing repression. The stakes could not be higher for the Christian pastor unjustly imprisoned and devastated by the loss of his church, the rights lawyer languishing under house arrest and forced to confess to crimes she did not commit, and the Hong Kong student activists fighting for their city’s future. This report is dedicated to these people and their aspirations—it is vital that they know the United States, despite its economic relationship with China, will stand with that country’s reformers and dissidents and press the Chinese Government and Communist Party to respect basic human rights and uphold the rule of law, just as we expect of any responsible country.”
In a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders, the Chairs cited the unique bipartisan structure of the CECC, which has Commissioners from both parties in Congress and the Obama Administration, and identified areas for more focused legislative and executive action, including developing the rule of law; countering human trafficking; improving freedom of the press, religion, and the Internet; ensuring ethnic minority rights; respect for Hong Kong’s autonomy; and further reform of China’s population control policies.
Both Chairs commended the capable, professional, and meticulous work of the CECC’s research staff in this important, congressionally mandated undertaking, now in its 15th year.
The text of the letter accompanying the 2016 Annual Report can be found below:
October 6, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
 Dear Mr. President:
We transmit to you the 2016 Annual Report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (the Commission).  The Commission was created by the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000, which also extended Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to China, and is mandated to monitor and report on human rights violations and the development of the rule of law in China, and to provide recommendations to address these issues in U.S.-China relations. The Commission’s structure, consisting of a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, Representatives, and senior-level Administration officials, is intended to foster cooperation between the legislative and executive branches, and promote bipartisan attention to these critical issues in China. As the Commission’s 15th Annual Report demonstrates, it continues to be a vital source of accurate information about the Chinese government’s failure to comply with international standards and its ongoing repression of the Chinese people.
The Commission’s 2016 Annual Report coincides with the 15th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization. The Chinese government has failed to implement the substantive legal reforms anticipated 15 years ago and persisted in violating international human rights standards and its own domestic laws, resulting in lasting harm to both U.S. interests and the Chinese people. Over the past year, human rights and rule of law conditions in China have further deteriorated in many areas as detailed by this report, continuing a trend that has seen the Chinese Communist Party and government expand efforts to crush independent civil society and religious activity, suppress the peaceful activities of human rights lawyers, ethnic minorities, and labor activists, and further implement the world’s most sophisticated system of Internet censorship and press restrictions.  China has also become more brazen in exerting its extraterritorial reach as demonstrated by the shocking abductions of Hong Kong booksellers, efforts to impede the travel of young Hong Kong democracy activists, and enforced disappearances and the coerced return of Chinese dissidents seeking asylum in Thailand. As the 2016 Annual Report makes clear, China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, is less free, more repressive, and increasingly dismissive of international norms.
Given the strategic and economic interdependencies of the U.S.-China relationship, and the importance of rights protections for advancing U.S. interests, the Annual Report recommends that the U.S. government lead efforts to press China toward greater transparency and adherence to universal standards.  Promoting human rights and the rule of law must be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, as concrete improvements in these areas are directly linked to the security and economic well-being of both the United States and of China.
Based on developments this past year, the report identifies the following key areas that we believe merit the focus of Congress and the Administration in the coming year:
Expansion of Rule by Law. The Chinese government continues to embrace rule by law, further entrenching a system where the Chinese Communist Party uses the law to strengthen its own power and crush dissent. The sweeping crackdown on lawyers and rights advocates in July 2015 was followed during this reporting year by a spate of detentions, enforced disappearances, and televised confessions of men and women engaged in work related to advancing human rights and public interest. At least 20 lawyers and legal activists were formally arrested on charges related to endangering state security, which carry the potential for lengthy prison terms, and 4 were sentenced on charges related to subversion. The government and party moved forward on a series of far-reaching new security laws that provided the basis for an even broader and more severe crackdown on ethnic minority groups, expanded government control over the Internet, and placed greater restrictions on international businesses that operate in or trade with China. The report recommends that U.S. government officials frequently and publicly raise political prisoner cases and work with like-minded allies on statements and resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and other multilateral forums where China and the United States are members. In addition, given the scope of the crackdown on human rights lawyers and rights defenders, the report recommends that the Administration consider more expansive use of existing law to deny U.S. entry visas to Chinese officials engaged in detentions, torture, disappearances, and other severe human rights violations.
Civil Society Seen as Security Threat. With the passage of the law governing overseas non-governmental organization (NGO) activity in China, the government codified an approach to civil society that treats many groups and individuals operating in this space as security threats.  Entities and individuals working in areas previously deemed acceptable by the government were forcibly closed and criminally detained in this past reporting year. The full implementation of the law will likely have a chilling effect on innovation, exchanges, and cooperative projects. The report recommends creative expansion of funding for civil society development in China, particularly in areas where China has made some recent commitments, such as projects to promote women’s rights and efforts to curb torture and wrongful convictions.  Furthermore, the report recommends that the Administration encourage a strong, unified, multi-lateral, and multi-stakeholder response to the NGO law.
Lasting Effects of Population Control.  The Communist Party announced a decision last year to adopt a universal two-child policy, but maintained population control policies that continued the enforcement of birth-limitation targets and the vast infrastructure of government officials who implement coercive policies in violation of international standards. The new policy does little to address China’s sex ratio imbalance of reportedly 34 million more men than women and an estimated 62 million “missing women and girls” due to a cultural preference for sons exacerbated by decades of enforced birth limitations. The report recommends the Administration discuss problems linked to the Chinese government’s population control policies and dramatic sex ratio imbalance as part of security, legal, trafficking, human rights, medical, public health, and “People-to-People” dialogues. In addition, the report recommends the full implementation of the Girls Count Act (P.L. 114-24) in foreign assistance programs for China and urges the Administration to consider appointing a Special Advisor at the State Department to oversee technical assistance and capacity-building projects. The report also asks the Congress to continue to consider the prohibition on U.S. contributions to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) until all birth limitation and coercive population control policies are rescinded in China.   
Violations of Religious Freedom. The report notes the Chinese government’s efforts to expand political influence over the activities and growth of religious communities through both a national-level “sinicization” campaign and the convening of the first National Conference on Religious Work in 15 years. The report also notes the detention of Catholic clergy and Falun Gong practitioners, the ongoing demolition campaign targeting church buildings in Zhejiang province, and continued efforts to control the leadership of Tibetan Buddhism and restrict the religious practices of Uyghur Muslims. The report recommends expanded U.S. leadership on international religious freedom, through coordinated multilateral efforts and bilateral interactions that stress the strategic and economic value of promoting this fundamental freedom. The report also recommends that the Administration use existing law to restrict entry visa access for individuals complicit in severe religious freedom violations.
Continuing Tragedy of Human Trafficking. China remains a country of origin and destination for the trafficking of men, women, and children. Women from Southeast Asia and Nepal were trafficked to China for forced marriages or sexual exploitation, and North Korean laborers worked under conditions described as forced or slave labor.  A system of arbitrary detention continues to exist in China, with detainees required to perform forced labor. The report recommends that the Administration use existing laws and policies to prevent goods made with forced labor in China from entering the United States. The report also recommends cooperative efforts between the Congress and the Administration to ensure the U.S State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has sufficient resources and status to effectively counter modern-day slavery, and urges Congress to consider legislation to improve data collection and diplomatic action to address human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal in China.   
Restrictions on Internet and Press Freedom. The Chinese government continues to implement the world’s most sophisticated system of Internet control and press censorship, affecting both domestic and foreign journalists. Authorities rein in media, commentators, and Internet and social media users critical of government policies by shutting down popular microblog sites; detaining media professionals and China-based family members of Chinese journalists and bloggers living overseas; and blocking services that allow Internet users to circumvent China’s “Great Firewall.” The report recommends that the Administration give greater priority to combating restrictions on the free flow of news and information. The report also recommends expanded Internet freedom programming to help Chinese citizens circumvent Internet censorship and recirculate content produced in China but deleted by government censors. 
Failures to Abide by WTO Obligations. Against the backdrop of slowing economic growth and stalled economic liberalization efforts, the report notes little progress in China’s compliance with international trade obligations. During this reporting year, there was growing labor unrest inside China. U.S. and other foreign businesses faced significant difficulties due to the weak rule of law, lack of government transparency, Internet censorship, and preferential treatment for China’s state-owned enterprises. Additionally, foreign businesses faced discriminatory monopoly investigations, intellectual property theft, and draft laws that will require the transfer of technology and encryption keys for information technology firms seeking a share of the Chinese market. The report recommends that, barring significant improvements, the Administration continue to designate China as a “non-market economy,” and consider initiating additional WTO disputes seeking elimination of trade-restricting Internet censorship that unfairly penalizes American companies. The report also recommends that Congress consider legislation to require that market access for Chinese investors in U.S. news, media, and entertainment industries be conditioned on a reciprocal basis to ensure a level playing field for U.S. investors. 
Repression of Ethnic Minorities. The Chinese government maintained harsh security measures that disregard the protection of human rights in ethnic minority areas, including Tibetan autonomous areas and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).  The Commission observed no sign of Chinese interest in resuming the long-stalled dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives. To the contrary, the government expanded controls on religion and civil society in Tibetan areas and the XUAR.  The report concludes that the Chinese government can best promote stability by respecting ethnic minorities’ right to maintain their language and culture and to practice their religion freely, and urges the Administration to address these issues at bilateral security dialogues and in exchanges with Chinese military or police officials. The report also recommends that the Administration press for unrestricted access to ethnic minority regions and instruct U.S. directors of international financial institutions to oppose financing projects that fail to respect the culture, religion, or traditions of ethnic minorities.
Challenges to Hong Kong’s ‘High Degree’ of Autonomy. The actions of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments during the past reporting year continue to raise concerns about the future of the guaranteed freedoms, autonomy, and rule of law that distinguish Hong Kong from mainland China and underpin Hong Kong’s financial reputation and prosperity. The disappearance, alleged abductions, and detention in mainland China of five Hong Kong-based booksellers is one of the most grave violations of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy since 1997. While recent LegCo elections saw some young activists associated with the “Umbrella Movement” protests of 2014 gain elective office, the process was marred before voting commenced, as the Hong Kong authorities disqualified candidates who refused to sign a loyalty pledge affirming Hong Kong as an “inalienable part of China.” Given the important economic interests the United States has in Hong Kong, and China’s international commitments to protect a “high degree of autonomy” in Hong Kong, the Commission’s report recommends that the administration continue to issue annually the report on Hong Kong outlined in Section 301 of the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.  In addition, the report recommends that the Administration and Congress work together to determine whether separate treatment for Hong Kong, which is allowed under the Act, is merited if Hong Kong’s autonomy and its guaranteed freedoms are further eroded. 
U.S. Government Actions. Principled U.S. leadership seeking improvements in human rights and the rule of law in China is critical for advancing the security and economic interests that benefit both the American and Chinese people. The report recommends that the Administration and Congress work together to strengthen the “rebalance to Asia” and develop an interagency action plan that integrates human rights and rule of law interests across the full spectrum of bilateral relations. Developing a “whole of government” human rights diplomacy would prepare all agencies interacting with elements of the Chinese government to actively press for greater transparency and better adherence to universal standards, and advocate on behalf of Chinese prisoners of conscience and citizens who yearn for basic human rights and a government that reflects the will of the people. A freer and more democratic China is a critical U.S. interest, and it should be pursued in tandem with other U.S. diplomatic, economic, political, and security priorities.          
The Commission’s Annual Report contains detailed information and reporting as well as numerous other recommendations for consideration by the Administration and Congress.  The Commission also maintains an extensive Political Prisoner Database as an invaluable resource on individual prisoners or groups of prisoners—cases which should be raised, by name, during every interaction with the Chinese government. A government that holds its own people in such contempt cannot reasonably be viewed as a responsible global stakeholder. The Commission and its staff stand ready to assist in any way to carry out the report’s recommendations or further explain its findings.

Chris Smith                                                                                                          Marco Rubio
Chair                                                                                                                           Cochair


I. Executive Summary

December  2016  will  mark  15  years  since  China’s  accession  to  the World  Trade  Organization  (WTO).  At  that  time,  the  Chinese  government  made  commitments  that  were  important  not  only  for  China’s  commercial  development  in  the  international  marketplace,  but  also  for  its  development  of  the  rule  of  law  domestically.  China— now  ranking  as  the  world’s  second  largest  economy—has  benefited  greatly from the international rules-based system in driving its economic  transformation  and  growth,  but  the  Chinese  Communist  Party has continued to reject the notion that the rule of law should supersede  the  Party’s  role  in  guiding  the  functions  of  the  state,  impeding China’s ability to honor its WTO obligations. As such, China has  largely  failed  to  implement  the  substantive  legal  reforms  anticipated  15  years  ago  and  has  persisted  in  violating  international  human  rights  standards  and  its  own  domestic  laws  with  lasting  harm to both U.S. interests and the Chinese people.

The   Congressional-Executive   Commission   on   China   (Commission),  established  by  the  U.S.-China  Relations  Act  of  2000,  which  also   extended   Permanent   Normal   Trade   Relations   (PNTR)   to   China, is mandated to monitor human rights and rule of law developments  in  China.  Since  October  2002,  the  Commission  has  issued  an  Annual  Report  each  year,  providing  a  summary  of  key  developments  over  a  range  of  issues,  identifying  new  trends,  and  highlighting  cases  of  political  prisoners  and  rights  advocates.  As  the  Commission’s  15th  Annual  Report  demonstrates,  it  serves  the  need  to monitor the Chinese government’s repression of the Chinese people and continues to be a vital source of accurate information.

During  the  Commission’s  2016  reporting  year,  the  Chinese  Communist  Party  and  government  further  restricted  the  limited  space  for  peaceful  expression,  religious  activity,  and  assembly  with  harsh  consequences  for  rights  advocates,  lawyers,  and  civil  society,  and  continued  to  implement  the  world’s  most  sophisticated  system  of  Internet  control  and  press  censorship,  affecting  both  domestic  and  foreign  journalists.  For  the  first  time  since  2012,  the  Chinese  government  expelled  a  foreign  journalist,  in  this  case,  for  criticizing  the  government’s  ethnic  policies  in  the  Xinjiang  Uyghur  Autonomous  Region  (XUAR).  The  government  routinely  denied  medical treatment to imprisoned activists, targeted family members and associates  of  rights  advocates,  including  those  overseas,  with  harassment  and  retribution,  and  became  more  brazen  in  exerting  its  extraterritorial  reach.  The  government  also  continued  harsh  security  measures  that  disregarded  the  protection  of  human  rights  in  ethnic  minority  regions  including  Tibetan  autonomous  areas  and  the  XUAR.  Underscoring  the  severity  of  conditions  in  China,  12  countries,  led  by  the  United  States,  expressed  serious  concerns  about  human  rights  abuses  in  China  at  the  March  2016  gathering  of  the  UN  Human  Rights  Council,  the  first  such  collective  statement  on  China  in  the  history  of  the  Council.  The  group  specifically  noted ‘‘arrests and ongoing detention of rights activists, civil society leaders,  and  lawyers’’  as  well  as  ‘‘unexplained  recent  disappearances  and  apparent  coerced  returns  of  Chinese  and  foreign  citizens  from outside mainland China.’’

Executive Summary

Legislative and policy developments during this past year included further reforms to the household registration (hukou) system and passage, after years of advocacy, of the PRC Anti-Domes-tic Violence Law and the PRC Charity Law. Yet these efforts were overshadowed by the apparent distrust and sometimes hostility with which the Chinese government continues to view its citizens and by the lackluster implementation and enforcement of laws and regulations meant to protect China’s most vulnerable citizens and stem the degradation of its polluted physical environment.

Faced with a rapidly aging population, a shrinking labor pool, and high levels of public dissatisfaction, central Party authorities announced in October 2015 a decision to adopt a universal two-child policy. Nevertheless, authorities maintained that population control policies will continue to be the long-term ‘‘basic national policy,’’ without any noticeable reduction to the vast infrastructure of government officials who implement coercive population control policies in violation of international standards. The revision of birth limits may never fully address China’s sex ratio imbalance. As of 2015, there were reportedly approximately 34 million more men than women in China. Furthermore, according to a 2010 estimate, there were 62 million ‘‘missing women and girls,’’ due in part to a cultural preference for sons exacerbated by decades of coercive population control policies. The sex ratio imbalance has led to a demand for marriageable women, which is a factor that may contribute to human trafficking for forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation.

While official statements in 2012 at the start of Xi Jinping’s tenure as Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and in 2013 as President of China seemed to indicate that he was open to political reforms and limits on the power of public officials; in fact, Xi has overseen a deterioration in human rights and rule of law conditions in China marked by greater consolidation of his own power—leading some analysts to draw comparisons to Mao Zedong—through forced ideological conformity and the systematic persecution of human rights lawyers and defenders. Xi, referred to this year by several provincial and local Party leaders as the ‘‘core’’ (hexin) leader, continued to head at least six Party ‘‘leading small groups’’ (lingdao xiaozu) that guide policy in vital areas including the economy, domestic reform, and national defense. Xi’s leadership style has led some experts to question whether he will adhere to Party precedent whereby promotions to the most senior positions are based on inner Party negotiations and consensus, when the appointment of cadres to the Standing Committee of the Communist Party Central Committee Political Bureau (Politburo) occurs at the 19th Party Congress in 2017, at which time five of its seven members are expected to retire. The anticorruption campaign against Party officials, an ongoing feature of Xi’s domestic policy, has led to accusations of torture and coerced confessions and even a spate of suicides by those who reportedly were to undergo Party disciplinary investigations. A former energy administration official asserted during his trial in February 2016 that authorities had employed torture to force him to sign a confession. Moreover, some have argued that Xi has used the anticorruption campaign to eliminate political rivals, as demonstrated by life sentences imposed on

Executive Summary

former Chongqing municipality Party Secretary Bo Xilai in 2014, former Politburo Standing Committee member and Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang in 2015, and in 2016, to Ling Jihua, senior aide to former President and Party General Secretary Hu Jintao.

Under Xi’s leadership, both the Party and government continued to invoke nationalist rhetoric featuring a ‘‘Chinese dream’’ to spur ‘‘the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.’’ Central to that vision is the rejection of so-called Western or universal values that the current Party leadership has labeled as ‘‘foreign’’ or ‘‘hostile’’ forces. Such rhetoric is used to delegitimize calls for political reform and various forms of social organization viewed as threats to the Party. In April 2016, Xi addressed senior Communist Party and government leaders at a rare national conference on religious work, the highest level meeting on religious work since 2001, and warned that China must be vigilant in guarding ‘‘against overseas infiltration via religious means,’’ while underscoring the importance of the ‘sinicization’’ of religion. The Party increasingly promoted the notion that civil society, including religious groups, was especially susceptible to ‘‘foreign influence’’ and ‘‘infiltration’’ and promulgated legislation, such as the PRC Law on the Management of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations’ Activities in Mainland China, to counter this perceived threat. Chinese authorities continued to impose controls on religion and civil society in ethnic minority areas. In March 2016, a senior Tibet Autonomous Region Party official highlighted deeply entrenched hostility toward the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s best known teacher, by declaring that he is ‘‘no longer a religious leader after he defected [from] his country and betrayed its people.’’ In a June 2016 white paper regarding religion in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where millions of Muslims live, Chinese authorities warned that they would ‘‘never allow any foreign organization or individual to interfere with China’s religious affairs.’’

In the face of increasing repression, well-known advocates like lawyer Gao Zhisheng, Mongol rights advocate Hada, and rights defender Guo Feixiong continued to speak out about the abuses they have suffered at the hands of their government. Although Gao and Hada are no longer physically imprisoned, authorities persist in monitoring their activities; in November 2015, authorities in Guangdong province sentenced Guo to a six-year prison term in connection with his advocacy of press freedom. As of August 2016, Guo reportedly had been on a hunger strike for three months to protest his treatment in prison. These cases and more than 1,300 other current political prisoner cases are documented in the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database. Family members of those unjustly imprisoned engaged in bold advocacy on behalf of their loved ones, including the wives of some of the lawyers and rights defenders detained during the crackdown that began in and around July 2015 (July 2015 crackdown) and later charged with crimes of ‘‘endangering state security.’’

Also noteworthy during this reporting year were the anger and discontent expressed by Chinese citizens calling for government accountability, transparency, and justice with respect to issues including food and drug safety, access to medical care, pollution, and

Executive Summary

official  misconduct.  Public  dismay  was  apparent  in  the  uproar  over  tainted  vaccines  and  in  the  public  response  to  the  suspicious  death  of  Lei  Yang,  a  29-year-old  environmentalist  and  new  father,  while  in  police  custody  in  May  2016.  An  open  letter  by  Lei’s  fellow  alumni of Renmin University described his death as ‘‘the random, willful killing  of  an  ordinary,  urban,  middle-class  person.’’  The  letter  concluded with a remarkable statement:
The  death  of  Lei  Yang  is  not  an  accident,  but  a  structural  tragedy  .  .  ..  We  must  have  the  most  basic,  dependable  safety, civil rights, and urban order. Short of this, we, who are  not  too  old  to  give  up  on  the  future,  will  not  let  the  issue go. We won’t tolerate evil indefinitely.

Executive Summary


Over the Commission’s 2016 reporting year, the following general themes and key developments emerged:

1.  Ideological  conformity  and  claiming  the  primacy  of  the  Communist  Party  remain  of  paramount  importance  as  does  reining in independent thought.

2.  Civil  society  increasingly  is  viewed  by  the  Party  and  government  as  a  security  threat  and  is  subject  to  expanding  control

3.  Rule by law has taken deeper root as the Party and government  use  the  law  to  repress  and  control  China’s  citizenry,  yet  disregard the law when it does not serve their priorities.

4. The  economic  slowdown  and  labor  unrest  are  sources  of insecurity for the Party and government.

5. ‘‘One  Country,  Two  Systems’’  has   been   compromised   while basic freedoms erode in Hong Kong.

Ideological Conformity and the Primacy of the Party

The  Communist  Party’s  determination  to  rein  in  independent  thought, ensure ideological conformity within its own ranks and beyond,  and  guarantee  its  primacy  remained  evident  across  Chinese  society  during  this  reporting  year.  Party  disciplinary  and  surveillance measures and demands for ‘‘loyalty’’ were aimed at bolstering Xi’s  political  power.  In  October  2015,  the  Party  issued  a  rule  against  the  ‘‘improper  discussion’’  of  central  Party  policies.  In  February  2016,  Xi  reiterated  the  Party’s  dominance  over  the  media  in  China  during  widely  publicized  visits  to  Xinhua,  People’s  Daily,  and China Central Television (CCTV)—the three flagship state and Party  media  outlets.  In  a  speech  on  media  policy  at  a  Party  forum  the  same  day,  Xi  reportedly  declared  that  the  media  ‘‘must  be  surnamed  Party’’  (bixu  xing  dang)  and  called  for  ‘‘absolute  loyalty’’  to  the Party from official media outlets and personnel.

Government and Party authorities placed greater pressure on national  propaganda  makers  to  promote  the  Party’s  ideology.  In  June  2016,  for  example,  the  Party’s  discipline  arm  published  a  critical  report  on  the  work  of  the  Central  Propaganda  Department.  The  re-
port  criticized  ‘‘ineffective’’  news  propaganda  and  weak  management  of  social  media,  and  called  for  stronger  coordination  of  ideological work in higher education.

The  intensification  of  ideological  conformity  met  with  criticism  even  within  Party  ranks.  In  early  February  2016,  the  chief  editor  of  the  Party-run  Global  Times,  Hu  Xijin,  received  media  attention  for  a  post  on  his  microblog  account  urging  that  ‘‘China  should  open  up  more  channels  for  criticism  and  suggestions  .  .  ..’’  When  influential  retired  real  estate  mogul  and  Party  member  Ren  Zhiqiang  questioned  Xi’s  demand  for  loyalty,  his  microblog  accounts  were  shut  down  and  his  Party  membership  suspended.  A  March  2016  open  letter—posted  online  by  authors  who  identified  themselves  as  ‘‘loyal  Communist  Party  members’’—called  for  Xi’s  resignation.  The  Chinese  government  responded  swiftly  and  harshly  by  detaining  more  than  a  dozen  people,  including  the  family  members  of  exiled  writers who denied any involvement.

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Civil Society as Security Threat

With  the  passage  in  April  2016  of  a  widely  criticized  law  governing overseas NGO activity in China, the government codified an approach  to  civil  society  that  treats  many  groups  and  individuals  operating  in  this  space  as  security  threats  rather  than  important 
contributors  to  Chinese  society.  One  of  the  law’s  new  provisions  prohibits  foreign  GO  activities  in  mainland  China  that  officials  deem  ‘‘endanger  China’s  national  unity,  security,  [or]  ethnic  unity’’  or  ‘‘harm  China’s  national  interests  and  the  public interest  .  .  .,’’  giving  the  government  an  overly  broad  level  of  discretion  in  violation  of  international  standards.  The  legislation  also  designates  the  Ministry  of  Public  Security  and  provincial-level  public  security  agencies  as  the  registration  authorities  for  foreign  NGOs.  The  full  implications  of  the  new  law,  which  will  take  effect  on  January  1,  2017,  are  not  yet  clear,  but  its  passage  is  widely  viewed  as  a  major  blow  to  Chinese  civil  society.  The  broad  range  of  organizations  covered  under  the  law,  such  as  industry  and  trade  associations,  chambers  of  commerce,  and  development-  and  rights-based  entities,  is  likely  to  have  a  chilling  effect  on  innovation,  exchanges,  and  cooperative projects.

Individuals  and  entities  previously  regarded  as  working  in  areas  deemed  acceptable  by  the  government  increasingly  found  that  this  is  no  longer  the  case.  After  more  than  20  years  of  distinguished  work  in  areas  including  anti-domestic  violence  litigation  and  the 
protection  of  rural  women’s  land  rights,  the  Beijing  Zhongze  Women’s Legal Counseling and Service Center ceased operations in February  2016,  reportedly  in  response  to  a  government  directive.  In  addition, labor rights advocate He Xiaobo and his organization Nan Fei  Yan  Social  Work  Services  Center  previously  received  recognition  and  funding  from  the  government  for  providing  services  to  migrant  workers,  but  in  December  2015,  authorities  detained  He,  along  with  over  a  dozen  other  labor  rights  advocates,  and  charged  him  with  ‘‘embezzlement’’  before  releasing  him  on  bail.  While  unregistered  religious  groups,  including  Christian  house  churches,  have long faced government harassment and worse for worshipping outside  of  state-approved  parameters,  this  reporting  year  Pastor  Gu  Yuese  (Joseph  Gu),  a  senior  official  in  both  the  Three-Self  Patriotic  Movement  and  the  China  Christian  Council—the  two  state-sanctioned  Protestant  Christian  associations  in  China—was  fired  and  then  detained  and  arrested  following  his  public  condemnation  of  authorities’  cross  removal  campaign  in  Zhejiang  province.  Although  Zhejiang  authorities  reportedly  released  him  on  bail  in  March  2016,  his  movement  and  communications  were  restricted. 

These  and  similar  developments  raise  concerns  that  domestic  civil society  and  religious  groups,  even  those  that  previously  have  had  limited space to operate, are under increasing threat of government pressure, harassment, and closure.

Rule by Law

The Chinese government and Party continued to embrace rule by law—that  is,  using  the  law  as  a  means  to  expand  control  over  Chinese  society  while  disregarding  the  law  when  it  does  not  accommodate  Party  imperatives  or  advance  Party  objectives.  Chinese  lawyers and advocates at the vanguard of pressing for human rights and access to justice continued to find themselves targeted under the Chinese government and Party’s abusive rule by law. As of May 2016, authorities had formally arrested at least 20 individuals in connection with the crackdown on lawyers and rights advocates that began in and around July 2015, 16 of them on charges that fall under the category of ‘‘endangering state security,’’ which can lead to lengthy sentences. In August 2016, four of these individuals reportedly pleaded guilty to subversion charges, following hearings in a Tianjin court at which their family members were reportedly
barred from attending. Zhou Shifeng, director of the Fengrui Law Firm at the center of the July 2015 crackdown, was sentenced to 7 years in prison, and Hu Shigen, a long-time rights advocate and house church leader, was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months. Shortly before these hearings, authorities said detained rights lawyer Wang Yu and legal assistant Zhao Wei were released on bail, but as of early August, neither had been seen publicly. Additionally, family members of those who run afoul of the Chinese government are increasingly at risk of collective punishment. For example, authorities placed Bao Zhuoxuan, the teenage son of Wang Yu and Bao Longjun, under strict surveillance and monitoring at the home of his grandparents and prevented him from seeking legal counsel or talking to journalists.

During this reporting year, Chinese authorities continued to use ‘‘black jails’’ and other forms of extralegal and extrajudicial detention to suppress individuals such as those petitioning the government over grievances, Falun Gong practitioners, and rights advocates. Even though China ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1988, the UN Committee against Torture concluded in late 2015 that China has failed to eliminate torture, enforced disappearances, deaths in custody, and numerous other forms of ill-treatment in detention.

Chinese authorities’ ongoing broadcasts on state television of prerecorded confessions of individuals who have yet to be formally charged with crimes or whose cases have not been sent to trial are serious violations of international standards with regard to the right to due process, a fair trial, and the right against self-incrimination. Not only did Chinese authorities broadcast ‘‘confessions’’ of Chinese citizens, such as Zhang Kai, a rights lawyer who worked
with Christian congregations in Wenzhou municipality, Zhejiang, to prevent the local government from removing crosses from their places of worship, they aired the ‘‘confessions’’ of two Swedish citizens—Peter Dahlin, the cofounder of a legal advocacy NGO in Beijing municipality, and Gui Minhai, the co-owner of a publishing company in Hong Kong. In testimony presented at a Commission hearing in May 2016, Gui’s daughter, Angela, asserted her father’s confession was ‘‘staged,’’ stating that the Chinese government authorities ‘‘felt they needed to fabricate a justification’’ for his illegal detention.

The Chinese government continued to obstruct access to legal counsel for individuals detained in politically sensitive cases, including many of the legal professionals rounded up during the crackdown that began in and around July 2015, as well as elected

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Wukan village Party committee chief Lin Zulian in Guangdong province. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released an opinion in June 2016 finding that American citizen Sandy Phan-Gillis, detained by Chinese authorities since March 2015, had been, among other things, denied access to legal counsel. The opinion marked the first time the Working Group had determined that the Chinese government arbitrarily detained an American citizen. Authorities in Tibetan autonomous areas and the XUAR continued to implement policies that further threaten culture, language, and religion, as well as prevent the effective exercise of local ‘‘autonomous’’ governance enshrined in China’s Constitution. Additionally, on December 27, 2015, the National People’s Congress adopted the PRC Counterterrorism Law, which contains provisions that expand police authority, raising concerns among human rights organizations that criticized the law as repressive and expressed fears that it would further empower officials to punish peaceful activities and target ethnic minorities.

Economic Insecurity and Labor Unrest

Party legitimacy over the last three decades has been inextricably linked to economic growth and improving the lives of the Chinese people. But this legitimacy could face challenges as economic growth slows to the weakest annual rate in 25 years and economic liberalization stalls. President Xi’s emphasis on the media’s role in ‘‘tell[ing] China’s stories well’’ extended to economic reporting. Chinese journalists covering the stock market reported being instructed to focus on official statements issued by the China Securities Regulatory Commission, which offers a decidedly positive outlook on the state of the economy. At the same time, the websites
of many U.S. media companies remained blocked in China, including the New York Times, Bloomberg News, and the Wall Street Journal.

The Commission observed growing labor unrest, especially in the manufacturing and construction sectors, as well as a government crackdown on labor advocacy. A labor rights group based in Hong Kong recorded over 2,700 strikes and protests in China in 2015, more than double the number recorded in 2014. The Chinese government prevents workers from organizing independent unions in part because the Party still regards organized labor as it regards citizen activism in other public spheres: a threat to the Party’s hold on power. While wages in China continued to rise, workers faced slower wage growth, and disputes over unpaid wages increased. In December 2015, public security officials in Guangdong province, a manufacturing hub home to many of China’s labor NGOs, detained at least 18 labor rights advocates affiliated with labor NGOs. As of July 2016, two remained in detention. Such economic insecurity and labor unrest is set against the backdrop of China’s efforts to gain market economy status in the United States based on its WTO accession protocol.

Erosion of Hong Kong’s High Degree of Autonomy

This past year, developments indicated that Hong Kong’s ‘‘high degree of autonomy,’’ guaranteed under the ‘‘one country, two sys

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tems’’ principle enshrined in the Basic Law, faced renewed threat of interference from mainland China. The disappearance, alleged abduction, and detention in mainland China of five Hong Kong-based booksellers (Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, British citizen and Hong Kong resident Lee Bo, and Hong Kong residents Lui Bo, Cheung Chi-ping, and Lam Wing-kei) in October and December 2015 and the televised ‘‘confessions’’ of four of the men in January and February 2016 were condemned internationally. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared Lee’s abduction from Hong Kong a ‘‘serious breach’’ of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that assures Hong Kong residents ‘‘the protection of the Hong Kong legal system.’’ In its Hong Kong Policy Act report to Congress, the U.S. Department of State emphasized these concerns, noting that the cases of the booksellers ‘‘raised serious concerns in Hong Kong and represent what appears to be the most significant breach of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy since 1997’’ (the year of the British handover of Hong Kong). Upon his return to Hong Kong in June 2016, Lam Wing-kei publicly revealed details of his and the other booksellers’ abductions and detentions, including their forced confessions. Notably, Lam alleged that the abductions and detentions were directed by central government officials in Beijing.

Underscoring the threat to freedom of expression, Hong Kong journalists and media organizations reported a continuing decline in press freedom in Hong Kong, citing government restrictions, violence against journalists, and pressure on reporters and editors from media ownership, including owners with financial ties to mainland China. The purchase of the South China Morning Post by Chinese online commerce company Alibaba Group raised concerns that Hong Kong media could face even greater pressure to self-censor or avoid reporting on topics deemed sensitive. After acquiring the paper, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman said the firm aimed to counter negative coverage of China.

In the face of increasing pressure from mainland China, divisions emerged among pro democracy activists in Hong Kong, often along generational lines. After the ‘‘Umbrella Movement’’ protests in 2014, pro-democracy activists launched several new political parties that reflected general dissatisfaction with the existing political landscape, including the lack of democratic concessions from the Chinese government. Many of the new parties promote self-determination for Hong Kong, as opposed to democracy in mainland China. Others pressed for outright independence amid burgeoning localist sentiment. The Hong Kong government required prospective candidates for office in the September 2016 Legislative Council elections to sign a loyalty pledge affirming that Hong Kong is an ‘‘inalienable’’ part of China—several who refused to do so, or who did so unconvincingly, were disqualified. Despite central govern-
ment warnings that promoting democratic self-determination for Hong Kong ‘‘endangers state sovereignty and security,’’ Hong Kong voters elected 6 localist candidates; altogether, opposition parties won 30 out of 70 total seats.

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Developing a ‘‘Whole-of-Government’’ Human Rights Action Plan. The Administration and Congress should work together to develop an action plan on the role of human rights in U.S.-China relations, detailing specific ways to implement a coordinated inter-agency approach that integrates human rights issues across the full spectrum of bilateral issues. A ‘‘whole-of-government’’ human rights diplomacy prepares all agencies interacting with Chinese government counterparts to discuss relevant human rights and rule of law issues and to articulate the link between human rights improvements in China and U.S. economic, security, and diplomatic interests. In addition, Congress and the Administration should work together to consider whether legislation or other measures are needed to implement interagency coordination on human rights in China, including by providing targeted talking points and prisoner lists to all U.S. Government delegations visiting China as well as support for the growing number of regular bilateral ‘‘dialogues’’ and various ‘‘People-to-People’’ and multitrack diplomatic efforts that include both governmental and non-governmental actors.

Strengthening the ‘‘Rebalance’’ to Asia. The Administration and Congress should work together and with regional allies and policy specialists, on ways to bring China into an economic and security cooperation system in Asia that includes upholding international standards on human rights and the rule of law. The Administration and Congress should work together to ensure that sufficient resources and executive authority are granted to advance human rights and the rule of law as critical national interests, pursued in tandem with U.S. diplomatic, economic, political, and security priorities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Strategic Use of Visa Policy and Other Diplomatic Measures. Congress and the Administration should work together to better implement existing laws that restrict visa access for individuals responsible for severe human rights violations and ensure that U.S. consular officials know how to apply such laws consistently, including Section 604 of the International Religious Freedom Act, Section 801 of the Admiral James W. Nance and Meg Donovan For-
eign Relations Authorization Act, and the relevant parts of Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Congress should consider whether additional legislation is needed to address ongoing human rights challenges in China, including such issues as restrictions on the free flow of news and information, visa delays or denials for journalists and scholars, allegations of organ harvesting, mistreatment or forced repatriation of asylum-seekers, and egregious discrimination and violence in ethnic minority areas. Congress should consider allocating resources to compile, document, and identify individuals and Chinese government officials responsible for severe human rights violations. The Administration should consider seeking revisions to the U.S.-China Consular Convention to clarify that Americans detained in China should be allowed to meet with a lawyer and discuss the details of their case with U.S. consular officials.

Engaging in Multilateral Action. The Administration should continue coordinating with like-minded partners on moni-

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toring human rights concerns in China and encouraging Chinese officials to fulfill their commitments in accordance with international standards. The Administration should lead, as circumstances on the ground dictate, initiatives that highlight human rights concerns in China at the UN Human Rights Council and other multilateral forums where the United States and China are members.

Individual Political Prisoner Cases. In meetings with Chinese officials, the President, Cabinet Secretaries, other administration officials, and Congressional leaders should raise relevant cases, both publicly and privately, of individual victims of religious or political repression. U.S. Embassy and consular officials, including the Ambassador, should regularly seek visits and engagements with relevant Chinese authorities to raise the cases of prominent
prisoners and should maintain contact with family members and associates of those unjustly detained or imprisoned. Members of Congress and the Administration are encouraged to consult the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database for credible information on individual prisoners or groups of prisoners.

Internet Freedom. The Administration and Congress should continue to work together to support a consistent and coordinated policy approach to Internet governance that counters efforts by the Chinese government to promote ‘‘Internet sovereignty.’’ Congress should consider expanding Internet freedom programs that track, preserve, and recirculate media and Internet content produced within China that is deleted by government censors. Congress should consider allocating funds for programs that help Chinese human rights advocates and civil society organizations circumvent Internet restrictions and enhance digital security training and capacity building. In addition, Members of Congress should urge the Broadcasting Board of Governors to use all allocated Internet freedom funds to support technologies that provide or enhance access to the Internet, including circumvention tools that by-pass Internet blocking, filtering, and other forms of censorship.

Press Freedom.  The Administration should consider giving greater priority to the Chinese government’s harassment of foreign journalists, blocking of news media websites, and limiting of press freedom. During regular diplomatic interactions, a diverse range of U.S. officials should promote freedom of the press and freedom of expression as vital foundations of an innovative economy, a vibrant civil society, and the rule of law, all of which contribute to sustainable prosperity for modern nations. Congress should consider whether legislation or other measures are needed to address potential trade barriers in China, including the ongoing and persistent restrictions on the free flow of news and information which affect foreign media companies attempting to access the Chinese market and investors seeking uncensored information about China’s political and business climate. Congress should consider whether additional legislation is needed to protect foreign journalists, including the possibility of limiting the number of visas allowed to executives or administrative personnel from Chinese state-owned media enterprises operating in the United States if foreign journalists continue to face visa restric-

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tions, police harassment and surveillance, censorship, or other egregious constraints.

Ending China’s Population Control Policies. The Administration should integrate the provisions of the Girls Count Act (Public Law No. 114–24) into foreign assistance programs and consider appointing a Special Advisor at the U.S. Department of State to oversee the creation and coordination of technical assistance and capacity-building projects. Projects should seek to strengthen property and inheritance rights for Chinese women and girls and protect women and their families from the most coercive aspects of China’s population control policies. The Administration should discuss problems linked to the Chinese government’s population control policies and dramatic sex ratio imbalance as part of security, legal, trafficking, human rights, medical, public health, and ‘‘People-to-People’’ dialogues. The Administration and Congress should work together with intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop cooperative programs to address the demographic problem of China’s ‘‘missing women,’’ and seek ways to support and bolster China’s own efforts. Congress should continue to consider prohibition of U.S. contributions to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for use in China until all birth limitation and coercive population control policies are rescinded.

North Korean Refugees. Congress should reauthorize the North Korean Human Rights Act for fiscal year 2018. The Administration should consider incorporating human rights into its broader sanctioning authority by using the existing U.S. Department of State designations of both North Korea and China as a ‘‘Country of Particular Concern’’ for international religious freedom as well as the trafficking-in-persons designations of ‘‘Tier 3’’ for North Korea and ‘‘Tier 2 Watchlist’’ for China. Congress and the Administration should work to establish regional multilateral ‘‘First Asylum’’ arrangements for North Korean refugees and seek unfettered access to North Korean asylum-seekers in China for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and humanitarian organizations.

Human Trafficking, Forced Labor, and Child Labor. Congress and the Administration should work together to ensure that the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs have sufficient resources and status within their departments to effectively combat human trafficking and accurately report on current conditions. The Administration and Congress should work together to ensure that expanded powers given to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency are used to prevent the import of goods suspected of being made with forced or prison labor. Congress should consider whether additional legislation or other
measures are needed to prevent human trafficking in the supply chains of businesses with U.S. Government procurement contracts and to enforce existing laws prohibiting the procurement of goods made with forced labor, prison labor, or child labor from China.

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Congress should consider legislation that improves U.S. Government data collection and reporting on the issue of human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal, globally and in China. To reduce demand for organs obtained through force or coercion, such legislation should also focus U.S. diplomatic resources toward the creation of international legal norms that promote the establishment of voluntary organ donation systems with effective enforcement mechanisms.

Ethnic Minorities. The Administration should consider raising issues of human rights in China’s ethnic minority areas in bilateral and multilateral dialogues on security, legal, and counter-terrorism issues with Chinese military, public security, or government officials. The Administration and Congress should work together to press for unrestricted access to ethnic minority regions and to facilitate implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, including establishing a diplomatic office in Lhasa, encouraging development projects that comply with the Tibet Project Principles, and urging renewed dialogue between Chinese government officials and the Dalai Lama’s representatives. The Administration should instruct the U.S. executive director of each international financial institution to oppose the financing of projects in Tibetan autonomous areas, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and other ethnic minority areas if such projects have the anticipated effect of facilitating large-scale migrations into ethnic minority areas, fail to promote economic self-sufficiency of ethnic minorities, or do not respect their culture, religion, or traditions. Congress should continue to allocate funding for democratic leadership training for Tibetans, and Members of Congress and their staff should seek inter-parliamentary dialogues with Tibetan legislators to raise the profile, professionalism, and capacity of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Commercial Rule of Law. The Administration should continue to designate China as a non-market economy until the Chinese government makes concrete improvements to policies detailed in this report that violate China’s existing international trade obligations. Congress should consider legislation requiring that both the House and Senate consent to any changes made to China’s designation. The Administration should work through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its member states to encourage and enforce the elimination of China’s barriers to the free flow of news and information to facilitate market growth, including by considering initiation of additional WTO disputes that seek the elimination of trade-restrictive Internet censorship and other restrictions to market access online. The Administration should ensure that the objectives of non-discrimination, fairness, and transparency are incorporated into the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations, and that any BIT with China is a mutually beneficial and high-standard agreement that effectively facilitates and enables market access and market operation, and that represents on each side an open and liberalized investment regime.

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Congress should consider whether legislation or other measures are needed to require that market access for Chinese investors in news, online media, and the entertainment sectors is conditioned on a reciprocal basis in order to provide a level playing field for U.S. investors. In addition, Members of Congress should press for the protection of U.S. companies investing in these sectors during BIT negotiations.

Technical Assistance Programs. The Administration should look for creative ways to continue existing aid and grant programs to individuals and civil society groups working to encourage human rights improvements, genuine democratic governance, and the rule of law, and work with foreign NGOs, the United Nations, and other countries on a unified response to the PRC Law on the Management of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations’ Activities in Mainland China, the PRC Charity Law, and other legislation drafted or enacted in the past year. The Administration and Congress should look to expand technical assistance and capacity-building programs in areas where Chinese officials have made commitments, such as curbing torture and wrongful convictions and implementing the PRC Anti-Domestic Violence Law. Congress should consider requesting briefings or a one-time report from the Administration to review U.S.-funded rule-of-law programs in China to determine their effectiveness, the pressures faced during operations in China, and whether new guidelines or
resources are needed to advance U.S. interests in the development of rule of law in China.

Hong Kong.  The Administration should continue to issue annually the report outlined in Section 301 of the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, subject to Congressional directives. The Administration and Congress should work together to determine whether legislation or other measures are needed to revise the Hong Kong Policy Act if Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law continue to be threatened. Congress should consider ways to express through public statements, official visits, and resolutions the important connection between maintaining a free press, a vibrant civil society, an independent judiciary, and transparent governance in Hong Kong and the mutual interests shared by the United States and China in maintaining Hong Kong as a center of business and finance in Asia.

Developing a More Robust Parliamentary Diplomacy. Congress should foster cooperation among parliamentarians and legislators committed to advancing the rule of law and the rights
enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by participating in existing institutions such as the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion and the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet or by working with relevant NGOs to convene a global parliamentarians group on human rights in China.

Encouraging the Protection of Academic Freedom. The Administration should assist American universities and educational institutions in negotiations of memoranda of understanding and contracts with Chinese government entities to ensure that they include protections for academic freedom; the universally

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recognized rights of faculty, students, and staff; intellectual property rights; and Internet freedom.


The Commission’s Executive Branch members have participated in and supported the work of the Commission. The content of this Annual Report, including its findings, views, and recommendations, does not necessarily reflect the views of individual Executive Branch members or the policies of the Administration. The Commission adopted this report by a vote of 21 to 0.†

  Voted  to  adopt:  Representatives  Smith,  Pittenger,  Franks,  Hultgren,  Black,  Walz,  Kaptur,  Honda,  and  Lieu;  Senators  Rubio,  Lankford,  Cotton,  Daines,  Sasse,  Feinstein,  Merkley,  and  Peters;  and  Deputy  Secretary  Lu,  Under  Secretary  Sewall,  Assistant  Secretary  Russel,  and  Assistant Secretary Malinowski.

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