Target: Xi Jinping, President of China
Goal: Ensure China upholds its constitutional pledge to respect human rights.
The Chinese government is guilty of human rights violations, including jailing its citizens without due process, widespread censorship, surveillance and restricting free speech and press. These abuses are occurring as China seeks to establish itself as a new world power on equal footing with the United States.
China has made a concerted effort in recent years to implement democratic reform through amendments to the Chinese constitution. A range of updates completed in 1982 specifically guaranteed freedom of press, speech and assembly. However, these appear to be merely be rights on paper as the ruling Communist Party has maintained authoritarian control. This is illustrated by the censorship of print and internet content which is viewed as counter to Communist principles. State-run media outlets continue to function as conduits for delivering government propaganda with no editorial independence. A review conducted by media watchdog group Reporters without Borders ranks China 176 out of 180 countries for press freedom.
A second constitutional amendment in 2004 declared that the “state recognizes and respects human rights.” Unfortunately, this ideal seems to have been absent from any meaningful policy change. Political dissidents are frequently imprisoned for months or years without legal representation. This includes a democracy advocate who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while serving an 11 year sentence for subversion. The Chinese legal system also makes it very easy to permanently remove those seen as a threat to the state. Forty-seven separate offenses are punishable by death, and while China does not release official execution records, a report by Amnesty International indicated it led the world in 2009 with 470 Chinese citizens put to death.
If China is to become a legitimate superpower it must support those democratic ideals expressed in their constitution with meaningful reform. Please sign the below petition calling on President Xi Jinping to ensure human rights are guaranteed for all Chinese citizens.
Dear President Jinping,
China’s emergence as an economic power and leader in the climate change movement has also shed a light on its continued disregard for human rights. Your government continues to impose authoritarian control over its citizens in violation of the Chinese constitution. As you are aware, the constitutional amendments passed in 1982 and 2004 guaranteed free speech, press, assembly and a respect for human rights.
You have an opportunity to elevate your country in the eyes of the world through a commitment to upholding human rights. It is only through societal evolution that China will fully realize its potential as a new superpower.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jeff Widener