GENEVA: The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined fourteenth to seventeenth periodic report of China on measures taken to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Presenting China’s report, Yu Jianhua, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the March 2018 changes to the Constitution reflected more fully the ethnic policy focused on ethnic equality and solidarity, and that the ethnic legal framework had taken shape, underpinned by the Constitution and the Law on Regional National Autonomy. Great efforts were being made to bridge the developmental gap between ethnic and other areas, including through the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan of Economic and Social Development 2016-2020. The economy in five autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang) and three multi-ethnic provinces (Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai) had made significant progress and people’s living standards continued to rise: the population living in poverty went down from 31 million in 2012 to 10 million, and the poverty rate dropped from 34 per cent to six per cent.
Committee Experts, in the dialogue that followed, congratulated China for creating extraordinary prosperity and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, including in the eight multi-ethnic provinces and regions, but remained concerned over the growing inequality, particularly for ethnic minorities who continued to disproportionally experience poverty. China was lacking an anti-racial discrimination law and a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, while the recent Foreign Non-Governmental Organisation Management Law and the Charity Law imposed restrictions on the funding and operations of domestic non-governmental organisations.
Committee Experts further added that a great source of concern was racial discrimination in the context of laws fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, particularly against Tibetans, Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. In the name of combatting “religious extremism” and maintaining “social stability”, an Expert said citing “credible sources”, China had turned the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region into something that resembled a massive internment camp shrouded in secrecy, a “no rights zone”, while members of the Xinjiang Uyghur minority, along with others who were identified as Muslim, were being treated as enemies of the State based on nothing more than their ethno-religious identity.
Experts recognised China’s vigorous efforts to promote education among ethnic minorities, and in this context raised concerns about the quality of and access to education in ethnic minority areas and the provision of bilingual education for ethnic minorities, which was sometimes at the detriment of ethnic languages.
A Chinese delegation from Tibet responded the questions put by Experts Mr. Cali Tzay of Gautemala saying that “Tibetans in Tibet are happy and the Chinese government has spent billions dollars for the development of Tibet Autonomous Region. The delegation further added that Tibet’s GDP is double digit comparatively higher than national GDP.
The case of Tashi Wangchuk so called language rights is not factual says Chinese delegation from Tibet. The delegation informed to the Committee that he has been convicted according to charges framed by Yushul district Public Security Bureau which found him guilty and the Committee Expert who has been tried to mislead by few group of “Separatist from outside” are baseless. Tashi Wangchuk is a criminal and threat to the national security which the court has sentenced for 5 years imprisonment as per laws.
The Chinese delegation from Tibet further added that Tashi Wangchuk was allowed to meet two lawyers but the delegation failed to inform the Committee when the lawyer has been met with Tashi Wangchuk and for how many time and for how long…….which raises a big question????
The delegation members also responded that the Chinese government has fully protected all the rights of the ethnic minorities and given equal opportunity to practice religion and preservation of culture. The Chinese government has also framed policy on bilingual education system which is fully implementing according to laws in ethnic minority areas without any discriminating ethnic language. But the delegation did not specify what kind of bilingual policies are being implemented and did not proved in documents the content of education system as asked by the Experts.
In the questions raised on ethnic minorities’ forced relocation and poverty in the areas, the delegation replied to the Committee that local authorities have invited participants from the Tibet Autonomous Region to choose their relocation building and benefitting new skills of livelihood such as raising cattle farm and plantation of medicinal herbs etc. but the delegation did not inform the Committee how much acres of land are being owned by these relocated Tibetan families and what kind of government supports are facilitated so far to lift them from poverty.
Finally the delegation invited Committee members to visit Tibet and to witness from your their own eyes the real development in Tibet instead of questioning on the basis of what they heard. So the question remains “is the Chinese government committed in real sense to accept UN Experts visit to China and particularly to Tibet and other minority areas to assess the real situation?”.
In the end, Mr. Gün Kut, Committee Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, in his concluding remarks expressed disappointment because most of the answers were very defensive, while some rejected certain Experts’ questions as baseless. There could have been a better and more fruitful discussion on how to ameliorate the situation in China, for the benefit of China itself.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, in his closing remarks, stressed that the Committee worked on the exclusive basis of the Convention; it was a legal rather than a political Committee, and it was not a tribunal or a court of justice.
Nicolás Marugán, Committee Rapporteur for China, thanked the delegation for the many good responses provided, emphasising that the Committee is attached to freedom of expression, thanked civil society organisations for the reports and information submitted.
In conclusion, Yu Jianhua, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations at Geneva, said that eliminating racial discrimination was a daunting task facing the international community, and reiterated China’s commitment to ethnic equality and solidarity and to conscientious implementation of the Convention.
The delegation of China included representatives of the central Government, namely the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Civil Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, Central Committee of the China Communist Party, National Ethnic Affairs Committee, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, National Immigration Administration, National People’s Congress, National Health Commission, National Radio and Television Administration, State Council Information Office, Yunan Provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission, Xinjiang Medical University, and Tibet Socialism College; representatives of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China: Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Security Bureau, Education Bureau, Labour Department, and Department of Justice; representatives of the Macao Special Administrative Region of China, including Legal Affairs Bureau, Social Welfare Bureau, Office of the Secretary for Administration and Justice, Office of the Secretary for Security, Education & Youth Affairs Bureau, and Health Bureau; and representatives of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will resume in public at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 14 August, to informally meet with non-governmental organisations from Mauritius, Cuba and Japan, whose reports it will review this week.
Report filed by Office of Tibet, Geneva