By Hilary White

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2006 ( – In its 2006 annual report, the US Congressional Executive Commission on China says Chinese population planning laws “contravene international human rights standards” and that the government still “strictly controls the reproductive lives” of Chinese women.

The 2006 report speaks of “pervasive propaganda, mandatory monitoring of women’s reproductive cycles, mandatory contraception, mandatory birth permits, coercive fines for failure to comply, and, in some cases, forced sterilization and abortion” as the foundation of the government’s population control program

The report states flatly that the Chinese population planning laws flout international human rights laws “by limiting the number of children that women may bear, by coercing compliance with population targets through heavy fines, and by discriminating against ‘out-of-plan’ children.”

The Commission on China has monitored human rights issues and the development of the rule of law in China in the hard-line communist state since October 2000. Its annual report is submitted to the President and Congress and forms the basis of much of US foreign policy towards China.

In addition to population control measures, the Commission monitors the situation for Chinese religious believers worshipping in state-controlled venues. This year’s report says the Chinese government, in the name of promoting “social stability,” is increasing pressure on religious believers who violated strict government limitations on religious practice.

The report notes that the “limited improvements” in human rights practices in 2004 were overshadowed in 2005-‘06 by “backward-stepping government decisions.” The report decries the government suppression of communications media especially its “regulatory control over the Internet and print publishing to censor political and religious expression, to imprison journalists and writers, and to prevent Chinese citizens from having access to independent news sources.”

The suppression of religious practice both within and outside officially sanctioned venues is also a matter of concern to the Commission. Five religions – Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism – are recognized by the government and those citizens who decline to register as official adherents to the state controlled groups risk “harassment, detention, imprisonment, and other abuses.”

Even those who register with the official religious communities risk the same abuse, the report says, “if they engage in religious activities that authorities deem a threat to Party authority or legitimacy.”

The population control measures which favour the births of boys over girls, have created a potentially disastrous imbalance in the sexes among younger Chinese born since the imposition of the “family planning” laws. Chinese women in urban areas are normally allowed to have only one child, but the law allows rural women to have a second child if the first is a girl.

The report says, “this imbalance exacerbates trafficking of women and girls for sale as brides. Between 10,000 and 20,000 men, women, and children are victims of trafficking within China each year, and NGOs estimate that 90 percent of those victims are women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation.”

The report also has strong criticisms for the treatment of the lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng, who was arrested and sentenced on August 24, 2006, to four years and three months’ imprisonment, after he drew international attention to population planning abuses by government officials.

Such abuses of power, the report says, “will only undermine the legitimacy of government actions and of China’s developing legal system.” This August, the US government called on the Chinese to release Chen who was arrested on trumped up charges which were laid, according to international human rights organizations, in order to silence his legal activism against the population control program.

The Commission says that the US government is “deeply concerned” at the decline of human rights in China as the government attempts to crack down on the growing Chinese social unrest.

Read the report of the Congressional Executive Commission on China (Adobe reader required):

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