Nobel Peace Prize Given to Chinese Human Rights Activist but the question remains are there human rights in China?


Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese Rights Activist was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The decision was applauded all around the world except in China, where Liu is serving an 11 year sentence for inciting subversion of state power.

About Liu Xiaobo :-

• He is a prolific writer, scholar and pro-democracy essayist.

• He was jailed for 21 months in 1989 due to his participation in the Tiananmen Square protests calling for the reform of China’s one-party Communist system.

• In 1996, he was put in a “re-education” camp for three years when he supported the release of prisoners jailed in the Tiananmen demonstrations.

• Because of his contribution to the drafting of “Charter ‘08,” a political manifesto proclaiming human and political rights in China; he is presently serving an 11-year sentence on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” imposed after an unfair trial.

The Ongoing Debate: Are there Human Rights in China?

In a way the recognition of Liu’s work by the Nobel Prize Peace Committee once again questions the existence of political and human rights in China.

The Chinese government maintains that Human Rights are a western concept and the very idea interferes with the political autonomy of the country. It further contends that the west promotes the concept of “pan-human rights” in order to pursue its vested economic interests. On the other hand, it is contended that the individuals in China are deprived of their basic political and human rights. China has been primarily criticized by west because:-

1. Death Penalty is awarded in closed trials. No official figures pertaining to death penalty are disclosed by the state.

2. The police have wide discretionary powers.

3. Death Penalty is awarded in 68 offences including the crime of corruption.

4. Through “re-education of labour” and other administrative detentions; a large number of people are detained without trials.

5. Immense restrictions of media and use of internet.

6. Repression of religious and spiritual leaders and human rights activists.

7. Gender Discrimination in areas of education, health care and employment.

8. Birth control regulations present in the country.

9. The ill-treatment and forceful deportation of North-Korean refugees.

10. China is in breach of a number of international covenants signed by it. The country does not grant the freedom of speech, assembly, association and press to its citizens as guaranteed under Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution. What needs to be done?

1. Disclosure on the part of the government is necessary in certain areas.

2. The reliance on extra-judicial system should be reduced and an effective legal system must be established.

3. Reforms are needed in areas of social work, health care management, social aid, female literacy and social security.

4. Accountability of the police must be enhanced.

5. Public Participation in policy formulation and decision making must be stressed.

6. The intra-party system needs to be improved.

7. The restrictions on the press should be uplifted to ensure constructive journalism.


Liu Xiaobo, is a name virtually unknown to the people of China. The media is banned from using is name. He was not even allowed to interact with the reporters once he received the award. Similar restrictions were imposed on his wife as well.

The opinion in China is divided on the issue. Some believe that Liu’s trial was fair and just as he had views were contrary to the Chinese culture and whereas others maintain that China needs to grant minimum political and civil rights to its citizens.

It is true that human rights is a western concept but is China justified to deprive human rights of its citizens on this sole basis?

The Chinese have right to take informed decisions about their own political future. Unfortunately, the government ensures that the people access only filtered information. It is not the west but the Chinese themselves who must make decisions on their internal autonomy but for this the people must be given a platform to voice out their concerns and considerations.

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