(WASHINGTON, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chair and Cochair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued today the Commission’s 2022 Annual Report on human rights conditions and rule of law developments in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The full report and an executive summary are available for download on the CECC’s website.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress last month reinforced Xi Jinping’s grip on the levers of power in China, which continue to be weaponized against the universally recognized human rights of the people of China and, increasingly, those outside China’s borders,” said CECC Chair Merkley. “This report from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China documents the reality of authoritarian control and the moral bankruptcy of Chinese authorities’ view of human rights. The CECC embodies a bipartisan, whole-of-government consensus on the need to address these failings. With President Biden’s appointment of CECC commissioners, I look forward to continuing to work across the U.S. government to protect those fleeing persecution, facing transnational repression, fighting coercion, or fearing the destruction of their culture."
“The Commission’s report documents the Chinese government’s continued use the tools of authoritarian governance to centralize power, restrict basic human rights, and maintain majoritarian social control,” said CECC Cochair McGovern. “We continue to focus on transnational repression, where Chinese authorities have reached into the United States and other countries to repress people critical of Chinese policies. We also continue to record the severe crackdown against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, Tibetans and Hong Kongers. I urge Members of Congress and the Executive Branch to make use of our recommendations to hold the Chinese government accountable and more effectively prioritize the promotion of universal human rights and the rule of law.”
The 2022 Annual Report provides a detailed account of the systematic and often brutal efforts by the government of People’s Republic of China (PRC) to censor, torture, and detain critics of Chinese Communist Party policy, rights defenders and human rights lawyers, advocates of free speech, religious freedom and women’s rights, and ethnic minorities. The report also includes a chapter on the PRC’s efforts globally to intimidate and silence U.S. citizens and others critical of the PRC’s human rights record, including at the United Nations and in other multinational fora. Transnational repression has been a key issue of concern for the Commission in the past year and the report details the tools used by the PRC in this effort, including cyberattacks, smear campaigns, threats against individuals and their family members, and abuse of INTERPOL mechanisms.
The report reflects the view of CECC commissioners that the PRC’s efforts to manipulate international human rights bodies, use supply chains and technology for repression and coercion, and undermine democratic freedoms and political processes globally pose a distinct challenge to the rules-based international order which requires a coordinated response from the United States and other nations. The 2022 Annual Report, with its focus on the PRC’s obligations under international human rights agreements, also punctures the narrative of a unique “Chinese view of human rights” that General Secretary Xi Jinping is attempting to export to the world. In particular, the 2022 Annual Report details the:
Promotion of a “cult of personality” around leader Xi Jinping and the expansion of surveillance and ideological indoctrination efforts in the year leading up to the 20th Party Congress;
Use of the criminal justice system as a repressive political tool targeting dissidents and human rights defenders, including extra-legal detentions and commitment to “psychiatric facilities;”
Ongoing genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), including evidence that Xi Jinping and top leaders directed repressive policies in the XUAR, which include rape, forced abortions and sterilizations, and forced labor;
Aggressive dismantling of Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms, free press, and civil society and use of the National Security Law to arbitrarily detain pro-democracy advocates;
Pervasive problem of violence against women, including coercive population control policies, bride trafficking, and growing allegations of sexual assault; and
Expansion of technology-enhanced authoritarianism and pervasive mass surveillance systems used to enforce the “zero-COVID” policy, restrictions on religious freedom, and censorship of online activities and speech.
The report also highlights many recommendations for congressional and executive branch action, including to:
Increase the capacity of the FBI and State Department to address transnational repression and PRC efforts to intimidate and silence Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, and members of the Chinese-American diaspora;
Sanction individuals responsible for forced labor and extend sanctions authorities for PRC officials complicit in forced sterilizations and forced abortions in the XUAR;
Expand the use of existing sanction authorities for Hong Kong prosecutors and judicial officials engaged in the prosecution and detention of pro-democracy advocates;
Create immigration pathways for Hong Kong residents and Uyghurs to protect those fleeing PRC persecution;
Limit the PRC’s malign influence operations in the United States by creating the “China Censorship Monitor and Action Group” to protect U.S. businesses and individuals from censorship and intimidation;
Condition access to U.S. capital market for any Chinese company providing support for the PRC’s mass surveillance capabilities or facilitating human rights abuses in China; and
Expand grant programs to assist Uyghur, Mongol, and other ethnic and religious minorities in cultural and linguistic preservation efforts.
The Chairs note the appointment this year of CECC Commissioners from the Executive Branch, the first such appointments since 2014, and welcome the contributions of the new appointees: Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya; Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago; Deputy Under Secretary of Labor for International Affairs Thea Lee; Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink; and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Lisa Peterson.
The Commission continues to champion bipartisan legislative efforts to bolster U.S. response to the PRC’s human rights violations. The enactment of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act—which was conceived, drafted, and secured by the bipartisan leadership of the Commission — is an example of this commitment and is the strongest action taken anywhere in the world to address the importation of goods made by the slave labor of ethnic minorities in China. The research and advocacy of the Commission also produced significant legislation in defense of human rights and bolstering U.S. human rights diplomacy in recent years, including the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (Pub. L. 116–76), the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (Pub. L. 116–145), a bill to prohibit the commercial export of munitions to the Hong Kong Police Force (Pub. L. 116-77), and the Tibet Policy and Support Act (Pub. L. 116-260, Sec. 341).
The Commission continues to provide detailed information on thousands of political prisoner cases and completed a major upgrade of the Political Prisoner Database to enhance its readability and searchability last year. For the first time, the Political Prisoner Database includes cases from Hong Kong. The Commission continued to highlight political prisoner case via public statements and social media, including though the #OlympicPrisoner initiative. A list of 16 representative cases highlighted in this year’s report can be found in the Annual Report.
Chair Merkley and Cochair McGovern commend the capable and professional work of the CECC’s research staff in producing the Commission’s 21st Annual Report.