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Protecting Human Rights Calls for Punishing Criminals

A signed article published in Beijing on December 22 says that some Western media and figures accusing China of "retrogression" in human rights know nothing about China's human rights policy.

The article written by Ren Yanshi says that recently some media and figures in the United States and other western countries have been whipping up opinion against China's trial by law of Xu Wenli and others, convicted of subversion of the government.

It says that the western media's accusation that China has "cracked down on dissidents" based on Xu's case is obviously a distortion of China's human rights situation and shows an ignorance of China's human rights policy.

The article says that Xu Wenli, who colluded with hostile overseas organizations and individuals and accepted overseas funds to engage in subversion of the government, had violated the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China.

It also says that it is quite normal for China's public security and judicial departments to arrest and try Xu Wenli according to law, noting that the trial is purely the internal matter of a sovereign country.

It is unreasonable for some media and figures in the United States and other Western countries to characterize China's lawful punishment of criminals as an infringement of human rights, it says, adding that these accusations have deliberately confused the boundary between normal judicial actions and human rights.

The article says that dealing with crime and protecting human rights are two aspects of one problem. In the final analysis, dealing with crime safeguards the human rights of the people.

On one hand, China's Constitution and laws clearly stipulate that citizens enjoyed the freedom of speech, assembly, association and belief, and they are protected while exercising these rights, it says.

On the other hand, the Constitution also stipulates that when citizens are enjoying their rights of freedom, they must not harm the interests of the State, the society and the collectives, or the freedom and rights of other citizens, the article says.

All acts against the Constitution and laws should be punished, it says.

The article notes that stipulations of Chinese law comply with the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" of the United Nations, which says in Article 18 to 22 that while the freedom of belief, speech, assembly and association is enjoyed, it should also be limited according to law.

Freedom cannot undermine State and public security, public order, health and morality, or the freedom and rights of others it says.

Xu's crime of using foreign funds to subvert the legitimate Chinese government and jeopardize state security has been well established with specific evidence, the article concluded.

It goes on to say that "it is logical that the Chinese judiciary bring such criminals before the law in order to protect the human rights of the Chinese people and safeguard the dignity of the law."

In fact, such high crimes are intolerable in any state with the rule of law and to any responsible government, it said.

The article cites an example from the law of the United States itself, sarcastically noting that "the U.S. law forbids the use of foreign money even in political campaigns, much less for overturning the government."

It refers to Articles 2381 to 2391 in Chapter 18 of the "Statute of the United States," saying that harsh penalties are prescribed for abusing the rights of freedom of expression and association to harm national security.

According to Article 2385, it says, those who intend to preach, instigate, persuade or expound on the reason why the government of the United States should be overthrown or destroyed, including by the means of printing, publishing, releasing, passing, selling, distributing or exhibiting any books or printed materials in public, are subject to punishment of up to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 20,000 U.S. dollars.

Based on explanations of many cases by federal courts, the freedom of expression shall not obstruct the American constitution and publications shall not viciously slander or intend to subvert the government, the article said.

"Now, the United States does not allow anti-government activities that harm national security, so why are court hearings in China dealing with the same crime dubbed a 'violation of human rights?'" the article asks.

Some Western media or personages have accused China of "violating human rights" because Xu Wenli and some others are "dissidents."

It is well-known that dissidents are those who hold political beliefs other than those of the existing government, the article admitted.

From the point of view of human-rights activists, citizens should not be punished or be prejudiced against for their political ideas, but this does not say that dissidents should be free from punishment even if they perpetrate crimes, the article said.

In China, it says that the citizen's freedom of thought and expression are protected by law, and those with political ideas different from those of the government and who do not breach the penal code in deed, are not liable to criminal prosecution.

Moreover, those dissidents, just as other citizens, are entitled to all the political and civil rights of citizenship provided for by the Constitution and law, and are not prejudiced against or violated by any organization or individual, it says.

Those who do not intentionally ignore facts should recognize that it is very common for Chinese citizens to hold and air their political ideas, even if they are not consistent with those of the authorities. And many with different political ideas or religious beliefs have been elected deputies to the people's congresses or members of people's political consultative conferences, the article notes.

Xu was punished not for his political ideas, but for his subversive crimes, and those who ignore his crimes but accuse the Chinese judiciary of "suppressing the dissidents" are misleading the international community and deliberately throwing mud at China, the article points out.

The signed article goes on to say that no country in the world has perfect human rights, and stresses that in order to fairly judge a country's human-rights situation, focus should not be only on a few people or a certain thing at a certain time, but rather on the overall trend of development. It must also be judged in a practical manner with an eye to history, and this is also true of China's human rights conditions.

It says that since the founding of New China, and especially since the reform and opening up, the Chinese government has exerted greater efforts to develop its economy and has stressed the construction of a democratic and legal system which will enable the Chinese people to better enjoy the right to subsistence and development, as well as political, economic, social, cultural and other rights.

The article cites as an example the fact that China has helped more than 200 million people shake off poverty in the past two decades, and 1.2 billion Chinese people are enjoying better material and cultural lives.

There is no doubt, the article notes, that the people of China are enjoying unprecedented human rights and freedom, even though there are still some things that need to be improved in human-rights protection due to the restrictions of nature, history and economic development.

The article says it is irresponsible and a pity that some people and mass media organizations in the United States and other Western countries have the desire to focus on some so-called "individual cases," especially criminal cases involving the subversion of state power, take them as "evidence proving that China infringes upon human rights," and describe China's human rights conditions as hopeless, disregarding China's overall human-rights conditions and realities.

The article continues that there are only a small number of people in China involved in activities threatening the national security, and points out that what some Western people and mass media organizations are really concerned about is not the human rights of the mass of the Chinese people, but the "rights" of a small number of people who attempt to overturn the Chinese government and destroy China's stability.

If the punishment of a small number of criminals in accordance with law is described as the human rights conditions of the 1.2 billion Chinese people, it is no surprise they shout that China's human rights conditions are "going backwards" when hearing that people like Xu Wenli were punished according to law, the article says.

The article notes that promoting and protecting human rights are important components and a goal of China's reform and opening up and socialist modernization construction. These are part of an established policy of the Chinese government worked out in accordance with China's realities and the basic rights and interests of the Chinese people.

The article says the Chinese government has stood firm in carrying out the reform and opening policy, and the policy of promoting human rights, over the past two decades even though faced with national and international turmoil and political, economic and media pressures from Western countries.

The article says that President Jiang Zemin reiterated in his letter to the meeting marking the 50th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Human Rights Declaration that the Chinese government will further promote the protection of human rights and fully guarantee people's right to enjoy human rights, democracy and freedom according to law.

The article stresses that there is no doubt that China's reform and opening-up policy and protection of human rights will not change at present or in the future. China will, as always, improve human rights and conduct cooperation with other countries to push forward the healthy development of universal human rights.

The article points out that some Western media organizations and people are ignorant of China's human-rights policy when they say that China's reform and opening-up policy will be "reversed" and accuse China of "retrogression in political reform" based on their view of the case of Xu Wenli and a few others.

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