The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor released its annual human rights reports on March 20, 2023. The China section of the report, which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Tibet, has 87 pages.
The report covers a range of human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese government including arbitrary or unlawful killings; forced disappearances; torture; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of fair public trial; transnational repression; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home,or correspondence; freedom of expression; media and internet censorship; restrictions on academic freedom and cultural events; restrictions on peaceful assembly and association; denial of freedom of religion; and denial of freedom of movement and travel.
On East Turkistan, the report states “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.”
Tibet is listed as a separate annex and the section has 27 pages. The report states that the Chinese government engaged in transnational repression against the Tibetans living outside Tibet. It says “forced assimilation was pursued by promoting the influx of non-Tibetans to traditionally Tibetan areas, expanding the domestic tourism industry, forcibly resettling and urbanizing nomads and farmers, weakening Tibetan language education in public schools, and weakening monasteries’ role in Tibetan society, especially with respect to religious education.” The report mentions China’s “centralized education” policy implemented in most rural areas. Under this policy, many private, monastic and other schools were forced to close and students were forcibly transferred to government run boarding schools in towns and cities where NGOs have accused the government of subjecting the students to political indoctrination and where students are cut off from learning Tibetan language and culture.
The separate section on Hong Kong states that authorities used the sweeping investigative powers of the National Security Law (NSL) to find evidence of “sedition” or other crimes predating the enactment of the NSL and charged and arrested individuals under both the NSL and colonial-era sedition law. In cases the government designated as involving “national security,” democracy activists who were arrested were denied bail. The report cites the U.S.-based NGO Hong Kong Democracy Council which estimated in May 2022 that more than 580 political prisoners and detainees were then in custody. The report concludes that it is unclear if Hong Kong’s civilian authorities are able to “maintain effective, autonomous control over the city’s security services” as mainland China security elements are operating openly in Hong Kong in contradiction to the spirit of and past practice under the Joint Declaration.