In 2018, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continued with its repressive regime, silencing pro-democracy and human rights voices through force and intimidation. This is the conclusion of the Freedom In The World 2019 report published by Freedom House, a watchdog organization that monitors the state of individual freedoms in countries across the world.
China scored a dismal 11 out of 100 in the freedom index, with the value of 0 representing “least freedom” and 100 representing “most freedom.”
Democracy and human rights
“The CCP seeks to monopolize all forms of political organization and does not permit any meaningful political competition. Eight small noncommunist parties are allowed to play a minor role in China’s political system, and are represented on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an official advisory body. However, their activities are tightly circumscribed, and they must accept the CCP’s leadership as a condition for their existence. Citizens seeking to establish genuinely independent political parties and other democracy campaigners are harshly punished,” according to Freedom House.
The report sheds light on pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo. The activist died in 2017 while in prison for organizing a manifesto supporting democracy. His wife was kept under strict watch following his death. Only in July last year was she able to escape to Germany. In the same month, 64-year-old pro-democracy activist Qin Yongmin was sentenced to 13 years in prison for circulating online statements criticizing CCP policies. He has already spent close to 22 years in jail.
The state’s treatment of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang was also heavily criticized. The report highlighted the deplorable political re-education camps run by the CCP where millions of Uyghurs have been forcefully made to abandon their traditions and accept communist ideology. Children have reportedly been separated from their parents for education in the Chinese language. Torture and deaths of Uyghurs are said to have increased last year. Several Uyghur rights groups have asked the world governments to look into the issue and save the community from persecution.
“What we expect from the international community isn’t just concern, but also some concrete restraints and direct pressure letting the Chinese government know that human rights abuses will result in united sanctions from the rest of the world… There has to be effective and binding international action to force the Chinese government relax its current, extreme policies when it comes to human rights,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress exile group, said to Radio Free Asia.
The Freedom House report also points to another worrying trend — the export of China’s authoritarian model to other countries. Due to the growing influence of China, more countries might seek to align with the Asian nation. In 2017, President Xi Jinping himself declared the Chinese growth model as an excellent option for developing countries.
Xi stated that his country’s model “offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence; and it offers Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems facing mankind,” according to Xinhua.
Beijing has already helped Venezuela set up its “fatherland card” system that will enable the ruling Maduro regime to have a tight grip on citizens.
The administration will essentially be able to decide who gets government benefits based on whether they support the current rule or not. Singapore is talking with China to implement more than 100,000 facial recognition sensors. Zimbabwe, too, has expressed interest in using Beijing’s surveillance technology.