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Chinese Government Needs to Demonstrate Concrete Human Rights Progress, Not Launch Publicity Campaigns

January 18, 2011

Human Rights in China (HRIC) welcomes the clear and detailed articulation of the Obama Administration’s approach to U.S.-China relations delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States, including the affirmation of the fundamental importance of human rights issues in U.S.-China relations. Secretary Clinton’s public address is especially critical at a time of serious deterioration of human rights in China, when the actions of the Chinese authorities continue to undermine fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law.

Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the bullying tactics at home and abroad of the Chinese authorities in response to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Liu Xiaobo. The official Chinese rhetoric and actions constitute a rejection of what the Prize affirms: the common bond of universal values that connects the people of China with the people of the world. Domestically, the continued intimidation and arbitrary detention of citizens – including Liu Xia, wife of the Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo – illustrates the lack of respect for rights protected under Chinese law. In a new step to further restrict an independent press – the fundamental pillar of a civil society – the Central Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China is reported to have issued a series of directives to media outlets nationwide that included orders not to “oppose the government” and “discuss, debate, and question the contents of political reform” when covering corruption cases, or even use the phrase “civil society” in reporting.

Even while using such harsh measures of social and political control at home, the Chinese government is launching a new publicity campaign abroad to bolster its international image. According to foreign and Chinese language press reports, the campaign includes a 30-second and a 60-second television commercials featuring Chinese celebrities that will air on major U.S. media outlets and on a large screen in Times Square during President Hu’s visit to the U.S. Later, a 12-minute video extolling China’s economic, social, and political progress will air in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

“The Chinese government has a reality problem – the serious deterioration of human rights as a result of its policies and actions—that has contributed to its negative international image,”said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC. “Instead of launching another international publicity campaign, the Chinese government needs to demonstrate its respect for human rights through concrete actions. A significant step would be the release of individuals, including Liu Xiaobo, who are imprisoned for the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

For more information on the directives from the Central Propaganda Department of the CPC (list of directives in Chinese only), see:

For more information on China’s Internet policy and practice, see:

For more information on Ding Zilin, see:

For more information on international engagement with China, see:

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