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Human Rights Dialogue Between States

August 5, 2002

July 23 - August 5, 2002

Since 1997, Japan “started a human rights dialogue with the PRC in return for Japan’s agreement not to cosponsor an anti-China resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission,” said a Japanese senior official at the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. In the past two and a half years, Japan has repeatedly asked China to resume a stalled high-level human rights dialogue that is supposed to be held on a once-a-year regular basis. (The Japan Times)
*On July 31, after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, the PRC’s foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan announced and US officials confirmed that Washington and Beijing would resume discussions on human rights within a year and “produce very concrete achievements.” In their talks, the PRC and the United States also plan to collaborate on ways to cut off terrorist financing and reduce the drug trade in their nations, according to Tang. John Hanford, US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, will lead the US delegation at the talks on human rights. (AP)

On August 1, a spokeswoman of Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, Phan Thuy Thanh, said its government is investigating the disappearance of three Chinese exiled democracy activists. According to US-based Free China Movement, Wang Bingzhang, Yue Wu and Zhang Qi, who are dissidents based in the United States and Europe, entered Vietnam from Cambodia on June 16 to meet Chinese labor leaders and were caught by Chinese authorities near the Sino-Vietnamese border on June 26. China's Foreign Ministry denied any knowledge of the case. (AP, Forum Asia Democracy, Reuters)

On July 26, following the widespread labor protests in the past year, the police formally arrested Fan Yicheng, the manager of Liaoyang Ferro-Alloy Company, for dereliction of duty. Four labor leaders, Yao Fuxin, Xiao Yunliang, Pang Qingxiang and Wang Zhaoming, remain in police custody without legal counsel according to China Labor Watch. In March, over 30,000 laid-off workers in the region protested against corruption, failure to pay wages, unemployment and retirement benefits. (AFP, PR News Asia)

Philip Pan of the Washington Post reported on Wang Xiao, who after working in a sneaker factory for a few months, found that the toxins in the glue were gradually destroying her nervous system. Her story illustrates the weaknesses in the PRC’s transition from a socialist to a capitalist market system without a strong legal system or the presence of labor unions. While China has adopted work safety rules, enforcement lags because of corruption. Moreover, access to healthcare has become easier for the wealthy, but remains difficult for migrant workers and other poor people. (WP)
*The lack of safety devices, training and stringent regulations have caused the death of 3,500 miners so far this year. On July 25, 18 coal miners were killed and seven injured in a gas explosion in the unlicensed Taojiawan Coal Mine in Guizhou Province. On August 3, 25 miners were working underground at the Tanghuanping mine in Hubei Province when a gas explosion killed at least eight workers, including the mine owner. Seventeen other miners escaped from the accident. The thousands of accidents have prompted more widely publicized efforts by the central and local authorities to close unlicensed mines and those that fail safety tests. However, many small mines manage to re-open because local governments need tax revenues to subsidize their budgets. (AP, Reuters, The Age)

On July 29, a group of 18 Chinese dissidents and intellectuals published “a declaration of Internet users’ rights,” protesting the new website self-censorship regulations. Over 600 web publishers, Internet users and companies have agreed to sign on. The declaration demands complete freedom to surf the Internet and to put together Internet pages, with the only restrictions placed on “evident and real” slander, pornography or certain “violent attacks or behavior.” (AFP, HRIC)
*Since a fire at a Beijing Internet caf?on June 16, 14,000 Internet bars have been closed. Citing the vice-minister of public safety, Yang Huanning, the Beijing Daily reported that of 39,000 establishments visited last month, authorities decided to close 11,000 and temporarily and 3,100 permanently. (AFP)

On July 19, authorities in southeastern China detained a Roman Catholic nun identified as Sister Chen Mei, who is being held at the Liangjiang county detention center in Fujian Province. As a member of the underground Catholic Church in China, she was teaching a summer religious class for children, according to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, an US-based church advocacy group. Twenty-six students under 18 and 14 other chaperones were also detained, but released a day later following a police raid on a private home where the class was being held in secret. A Dong'an government official, who refused to provide a name, said a group of villagers had been detained for “attending an illegal religious activity.” The official did not specify the number or identities of the people who were detained. A spokesman at the detention center said around 30 people had been detained on July 19 in relation to underground religious activity, but refused to disclose any details. Because Beijing insists that the Catholic Church in China follows government orders, rather than the pope’s, many worship in underground churches, deemed illegal by the government. (Reuters, VOA)

On July 29, twenty-one lawmakers formed a group to seek the release of the Luo Rong, 37, whose Japanese name is Yoko Kaneko. Luo was sentenced by the PRC to one and a half years of reeducation through labor for Falungong-related activities. The lawmakers delivered a letter to Senior Vice Foreign Minister Seiken Suguira to call on the PRC to release Luo. Chinese authorities detained Luo on May 24, along with two Japanese women who were distributing Falungong materials in Beijing. (Japan Today)

An official at the Hulunbeier Municipal People's Court in Inner Mongolia announced on July 26 that Chun Ki-won, a South Korean detained in China for aiding North Korean defectors escape to Mongolia, was expected to be deported within the next few days. Chun was fined $6,000 and sentenced to deportation on charges of “organizing people to illegally cross the national border.” But a South Korean diplomat said he believed that Chun was still in Inner Mongolia because he had yet to pay the fine to be released. (Reuters)
*On July 26, another North Korean slipped into the South Korean consulate in Beijing, raising the number to 12 people who are waiting to resettle in a third country. On the same day, South Korean and Chinese officials met to discuss the situation of the asylum seekers and to find a resolution within a week. On August 2, a South Korean diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the group of North Koreans will likely arrive in Seoul this weekend via a third country in Southeast Asia, but an unrevealed number of the asylum-seekers will likely stay behind in Beijing. Chinese authorities, who allege that a number of the North Koreans have committed crimes in China, apparently want to investigate their backgrounds further. The PRC is required by treaty to repatriate defectors to North Korea, but it has not followed that treaty in cases that have become public. To avoid offending its Communist ally, the PRC has allowed the defectors to leave via a third country. (Reuters, VOA)

AFP…………..Agence France Presse
AP……………Associated Press
VOA………….Voice of America
WP…………...Washington Pos