Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shutting down civil society

None of these facts are new information. But it's good to see it again in one place. It's also good to review what civil society is, the roles it can play in the public sphere, and the theory behind the idea that the Communist Party is the only legitimate civil society organization in China.

China takes aim at civil society in systematic crackdown: report
China’s muzzling of lawyers, labour activists, journalists and gender campaigners amounts to a systematic attempt to choke off civil society, an effort that took on new seriousness last year, said the authors of a new report on human rights in [China]…

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has criminally detained hundreds of people involved in defending human rights. Many have been deprived of rights to a lawyer and fair trial, and their treatment has been marred by an “alarming prevalence of torture to force confessions,” said the 2016 annual report by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an advocacy coalition of non-governmental organizations.

Security laws and rules for overseas NGOs that came into force last year give the Chinese state “draconian” new powers to “expand already strict control over independent organizations, including their funding sources, staffing, and activities,” the report states.

Mr. Xi and his administration “are really intent on shutting off any avenue for civil society to participate in the improvement of the Chinese nation,” said Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders…

“The government is saying, ‘you’re not allowed to participate. This is something that only we the Communist Party can do,’ ” Ms. Eve said…

Chinese authorities have waged a public campaign against what they have called foreign and hostile forces, accusing the U.S. in particular of funnelling money into China to foment unrest and destabilize society in the name of undermining the Communist Party.

Activists and lawyers routinely disappear for months, in violation of Chinese standards for prompt notification of families…

Authorities, however, have said they treated human-rights lawyers according to the law, in an effort to prevent conspiracies that could drag China into chaos.

A militaristic video posted to the website of the Chinese Supreme People’s Court last summer… lists dissident leaders and human-rights lawyers as “agents of Western powers.”…

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