The People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party is the paramount authority. Communist Party members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the Communist Party Central Committee’s 24-member Political Bureau (Politburo) and its seven-member Standing Committee. Xi Jinping continued to hold the three most powerful positions as party general secretary, state president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The main domestic security agencies include the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Armed Police. The People’s Armed Police continue to be under the dual authority of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Central Military Commission. The People’s Liberation Army is primarily responsible for external security but also has some domestic security responsibilities. Local jurisdictions also frequently use civilian municipal security forces, known as “urban management” officials, to enforce administrative measures. Civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. There were reports that members of the security forces committed serious and pervasive abuses.
Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and included: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of the country’s birth control policies; rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; and persecution including forced labor and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearances by the government; torture by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention by the government including since 2017 of more than one million Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim minority groups in extrajudicial internment camps, prisons, and an additional unknown number subjected to daytime-only “re-education” training; political prisoners; transnational repression against individuals in other countries; the lack of an independent judiciary and Communist Party control over the judicial and legal system; arbitrary interference with privacy including pervasive and intrusive technical surveillance and monitoring including the use of COVID-19 tracking apps for nonpublic-health purposes; punishment of family members for offenses allegedly committed by an individual; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others; serious restrictions on internet freedom, including site blocking; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws that apply to foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations; severe restrictions and suppression of religious freedom; substantial restrictions on freedom of movement; refoulement of asylum seekers to North Korea, where they have a well-founded fear of persecution, including torture and sexual violence; the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; serious restrictions on political participation; serious government corruption; serious government restrictions on or harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations; forced sterilization and coerced abortions; violence targeting members of national, racial, and ethnic minority groups; trafficking in persons, including forced labor; severe restrictions on labor rights, including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own choosing; and child labor.
Government officials and the security services often committed human rights abuses with impunity. Authorities often announced investigations following cases of reported killings by police but did not announce results or findings of police malfeasance or disciplinary action. Enforcement of laws on corruption was inconsistent and not transparent, and corruption was widespread.
For Further Reference
Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report Chapter on China
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report