Human rights in China are periodically reviewed by international bodies, such as human rights treaty bodies and the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC), their supporters, and other proponents claim that existing policies and enforcement measures are sufficient to guard against human rights abuses. However, other countries (such as the United States and Canada), international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including Human Rights in China and Amnesty International, and citizens, lawyers, and dissidents inside the country, state that the authorities in mainland China regularly sanction or organize such abuses.
Independent NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as foreign governmental institutions such as the U.S. State Department, regularly present evidence of the PRC violating the freedoms of speech, movement, and religion of its citizens and of others within its jurisdiction. Authorities in the PRC claim improvement in human rights, as they define them differently, so as to be dependent on "national culture" and the level of development of the country. However, governments have a duty to promote and protect all human rights universally, regardless of their national circumstances. PRC politicians have repeatedly maintained that, according to the PRC Constitution, the "Four Cardinal Principles" supersede citizenship rights. PRC officials interpret the primacy of the Four Cardinal Principles as a legal basis for the arrest of people who the government says seek to overthrow the principles. Chinese nationals whom authorities perceive to be in compliance with these principles, on the other hand, are permitted by the PRC authorities to enjoy and exercise all the rights that come with citizenship of the PRC, provided they do not violate PRC laws in any other manner.
Numerous human rights groups have publicized human rights issues in mainland China that they consider the government to be mishandling, including: the death penalty (capital punishment), the one-child policy (in which China had made exceptions for ethnic minorities prior to abolishing it in 2015), the political and legal status of Tibet, and neglect of freedom of the press in mainland China. Other areas of concern include the lack of legal recognition of human rights and the lack of an independent judiciary, rule of law, and due process. Further issues raised in regard to human rights include the severe lack of worker's rights (in particular the hukou system which restricts migrant labourers' freedom of movement), the absence of labour unions independent of the CCP, the implementation of Social Credit System and its blacklist, which serve to restrict a person and their family members' rights, and allegations of discrimination against rural workers and ethnic minorities, as well as the lack of religious freedom – rights groups have highlighted repression of the Christian, Tibetan Buddhist, Uyghur Muslim, and Falun Gong religious groups. Some Chinese activist groups are trying to expand these freedoms, including Human Rights in China, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, and the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. Chinese human rights attorneys who take on cases related to these issues, however, often face harassment, disbarment, and arrest.
According to the Amnesty International report from 2016/2017 the government continued to draft and enact a series of new national security laws that presented serious threats to the protection of human rights. The nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists continued throughout the year. Activists and human rights defenders continued to be systematically subjected to monitoring, harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention. The report continues that police detained increasing numbers of human rights defenders outside of formal detention facilities, sometimes without access to a lawyer for long periods, exposing the detainees to the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Booksellers, publishers, activists and a journalist who went missing in neighboring countries in 2015 and 2016 turned up at detention in China, causing concerns about China's law enforcement agencies acting outside their jurisdiction.
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