'On Human Rights, the Only Obstacle Is China Itself'

A commentary by Bao Tong
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The 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council meets in Geneva on Feb. 25, 2013.
The 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council meets in Geneva on Feb. 25, 2013.

As China gears up for the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of its rights record on Oct. 22., Beijing has detained a number of activists who speak out about abuses, as well as some who campaigned against its application for a seat on the council. In this commentary broadcast on RFA's Mandarin Service, Bao Tong, former aide to late disgraced premier Zhao Ziyang, takes China's leadership to task for its failure to ratify U.N. rights covenants signed ahead of its bid to host the Olympics:

In spite of the Chinese Communist Party's denunciation of universal values, the Chinese government is still seeking a role on the U.N. Human Rights Council. This is a sign that they are looking to progress, and is worthy of recognition. As a citizen, I would like the government to achieve this. China is a populous country, which offers no human rights protection to its 1.3 billion people, which greatly devalues its signing of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The only obstacle comes from China itself. Fifteen years after signing the international human rights covenants, China still hasn't ratified them; nor has it implemented them so that Chinese people can genuinely feel their benefits. This is quite baffling. If the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party was so determined to safeguard China against the ideology of universal values and to boycott the human rights covenants, why did it send a special delegation to the United Nations to sign them? Once they were signed, they should have been ratified and implemented, not allowed to drag on in confusion like this for 15 years.

Herein lies the mystery. Perhaps this involved the deepest thought at the highest levels, so an outsider has no way of knowing about it. But regardless of what happened in the past, today's [leadership] should file away the old scores of the past and take responsibility for making fresh choices: either the immediate ratification and strict implementation of the international human rights covenants, as a turning point towards the implementation of Article 35 of [China's] Constitution; or they should declare that the covenants and Article 35 of the Constitution are in error, and withdraw from the U.N. Security Council posthaste. This situation has gone on for 15 years, neither fish nor fowl ... which doesn't befit the gravitas of a nation-state.

Some may say that China should withdraw from the international human rights covenants and have done with it, but why withdraw from the U.N. Security Council? My understanding is that the members of the Council, particularly the permanent members, must be bound by the international human rights covenants. How can a government which takes no responsibility for implementing the covenants and its Constitution behave responsibly with regard to international treaties and agreements? How can a government which safeguards only its own sovereignty, but not the rights of its own citizens, protect global peace and security?

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (2)


Ad hominem attacks that vilify critics of the single-party Leninist authoritarian regime while eulogizing with superlatives are the hallmark of the fifty-cent party and fenqing (including Pigsy's promise to spit on people whose views he hates). The usual refrain is that any criticism of the PRC Party-state is just the same as a libel of China and the Chinese people. Sorry, there is a big difference between a regime and a country and the country's populace. At any rate, there is little wonder that Pigsy merely threw insults at Bao Tong, because Bao Tong's arguments were reasonable and difficult to overturn.

Oct 10, 2013 11:15 AM


from Hong Kong

Like many, I used to look up to the "June 4th Leaders". That was a generation ago. But it had been truly disappointing to see literally all of them spiral down that greasy dirty trail of being bought and used by foreign forces to libel the great nation of China, and by implication the Chinese people, who overwhelmingly support Beijing. Yes the Chicoms have faults (Washington does not?). Yet for a Chinese (if he is still Chinese) to so viciously attack what is literally the most capable central government that the Chinese people have enjoyed in over 1,000 years, is just despicable. I would personally spit on such turncoats.

Oct 09, 2013 10:58 AM





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