Human Rights issues could impede Olympic Games in China

Date of Submission:

                                  Human Rights issues could impede Olympic Games in China.


            The basic rights and freedoms to which  all humans are entitled to are known as the human rights.  For instance, the right to life and liberty, equality before the law and freedom of expression are human rights.  Human rights since ancient times draw developments from cultural, religious, philosophical and legal aspects ,with  global  human rights laws  been promoted by Treaties .These treaties enable punishment for violations of human rights such as  genocide, war crimes and even crimes against humanity,(Alston, P.2005).  Examples of international courts that have been constituted to guard human rights include the international criminal court and the European court of human rights.  The United Nations is the only multilateral government agency that guards human rights  all over the world ,  comprising  of  various countries as member states which are required to guard against human rights violations.

            Human rights in the world need to be protected, although not all nations adhere to the principles and ideologies reflected in the human rights manuals.  The idea of human rights started back in the 18th century (Period of Enlightment) and  was later   supported by the American Declaration of Independence Act (during the American Revolution) together with the French Revolutionary Declaration of Man and the Citizen.  Violation of human rights was observed in the ancient Rome and later seen  during  the Cold War. The Cold war in 1948 triggered the drafting of a  universal understanding on the human rights definition,  which was referred to as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   Human rights violation have continued to  be observed and documented  even in the modern world.

            Historically, violation of human rights was indiscriminate with people being subjected to brutal games and fights in the ancient Rome.  One such activity was referred to as the Gladiator, which was held at the Colessium whereby people would be made to fight until one of them would die.  This kind of oppression continued until human rights idea started to be accepted by the people all over the world to address the oppression of fellow humans.

            In China,  the  human rights issue began to raise concern after the collapse of the Ching dynasty in 1911  initiated   by the Sun Yet Sings program.  In 1919,  a new movement took over and appealed for human rights which  enabled people to phase out imperialism and instead modernize China.  The government was urged to govern in a human and morally upright manner,  advocated by the Confucian values.  Confucian teachings encouraged   the leaders to change their leadership system, and also awakened the people to the necessity of reason coupled with the morality and harmony reinforcement in China.

Thesis Statement

            China’s violation of human rights may impede the Olympic games which are scheduled to kick off later this year In this paper, reasons for China’s consideration as one of the nation that  violates human rights, together with ways in which China has violated the rights will be discussed. China as a country violates the human rights  and the impacts of these violations may affect the Olympic games to be held there later this year. These two aspects will assist in explaining why the Olympic Games in China may be impeded.


            The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is considered to have widespread violations of the   human rights, (Kent, A.1993).  Arbitrary and abusive judicial regime by the Chinese government has resulted to opinions’ suppression and political control over the nations’ legal system, with the government officials  going  unchecked for abuses caused by the government’s and Chinese Communist Party (CCP)  lack of accountability. Another   factor  contributing  to the violation of human rights in China may be the fact that, many Chinese lack formal objection of violations because  they are influenced by their culture of collective well being rather than self.

            China’s human rights record  is of low standards. compared to the Western standards. Though the coming up of movements such as the Chinese Human Rights Alliance in 1979 advocated for better living conditions of the people, the human rights policy has not been fully accepted. For instance,  the drafting of a Chinese Declaration of Human rights in 1979 was not taken well in China. With the hosting of Olympic Games in Beijing by China this year, the human rights issues could impede the Olympic Games.  One reason why the Olympic Games may be impeded is that, the Chinese government has demonstrated brutality in dealing with the advocates of freedom of speech and association.  Poor treatment of people has in the past triggered demonstrations of students against the Chinese Communist Party.  The army was used by the  Chinese government to stop the demonstrators, but university students who were bold continued demonstrating even as they were faced with tanks and machine guns, (Kent, A.1993).

            After the students stopped the demonstrations, those who were involved were tracked down by the government and were incarcerated after being labeled as “counter-revolutionaries.” Many people were killed with the official party denying the allegations. In addition, those who spoke against this action were jailed which indicates the intense brutality of the Chinese government.  The Chinese government showed violation of freedom of speech and association, which in turn creates tension in the global community as to how China will hold Olympic Games successfully as required.  The Olympic Games advocate for respect of human life and rights, which China does not display seen by its  human violation   practices and beliefs.

            The Chinese national regulations also restrict independent organization, though the Chinese constitution itself  guarantees the freedom of association and assembly.  Only the authorities give permission to organization’s formation where  the unregistered organizations are punished since they are  viewed as “illegal.” This has undermined independent advocacy on labor, human rights, development, environmental and political issues.  The labor unions, women and youth organizations are controlled by the CCP. This has raised oppositions from all over the world, which puts the Olympic Games in China at a risk of being boycotted.

            The Media in China is restricted and is  also expected to conform to the CCP demands.  The Republic of China Constitution of the 1982 states clearly on the freedom of the press, (Foot, R. 2000).  However, the four basic principles of the CCP leadership are considered to lean on its leadership, socialism, dictatorship and Marxism – Leninism principles.  Even after the constitution guarantees freedom of the press, the government employs controls that undermine the free expression of the media, denying the media its independence.  The Chinese media has some restrictions on issues that touch on its contact with the foreign news media.

            In addition, extensive censorship of the  media, articles and publishing houses is done even before they are published. For instance, the news coverage in China is supposed to be 80% positive and 20% negative with the journalists and editors expected to disseminate information as required by the CCP.  Individuals, media houses or public bodies who do not follow the guidelines may face demotion, loss of a job or imprisonment as punishment for non-compliance with the rules. In the past, some  Chinese publishers’ editors and journalists were once subjected to harassment due to their work, ( Davis, M. ,1995). The questions raised about these  media  restrictions may attract negative opinions from participating countries in the Olympic, which might undermine the games against how they should be.

            The UN advocates for religious freedom through the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.  The Chinese government has registered the official branches of four state-recognized religions, which include Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Islam, (Loeb, V.1999).  This registration was established in the 1950s with public conduction and participation in worship prohibited.

            The worshippers have sometimes been placed under close surveillance by the police or  even under internal exile if caught in public worship without authorization ,  further  leading to confiscation of religious literature.  The non-government churches have been outlawed which violates the UN policy on the freedom of worship with the  People’s Republic of China government going  even  further by imposing restrictions on religious practices by foreigners in China (in January 1994).  Through the State Council Decrees 144 and 145, the authorities were offered legal back up to the religious restrictions.  For example, the Decree 144 allows restrictions and only allows foreign nationals to bring religious material in the country only for their own use, and also encourages   banning of religious material seen as harmful to the public interest.

            It is also important to note that evangelization, establishment of religious schools and missionary activities were prohibited by the Decree 144.  The Decree 144 also gives the authorities legal ability to restrict any religious activities that are viewed as threatening the ‘national unity’ or even the stability of the Chinese society, (Loeb, V .1999).  Furthermore, the practice of religion by the foreign nationals to the already state-sanctioned places of worship is limited by the Decree 145.  The participants of the Olympic Games will be coming from various nations, cultures and religions.  The restrictions may hinder participants from participating in the Beijing Olympic Games, where the participants may put their religion as a priority rather than their nationality.  The individuals may feel more obligated to their religion than the nation, impeding the spirit of the Olympic Games.

            Some nations lack faith in the Judicial Independence and Due process in China.  China is sometimes viewed as having few legal safeguards to ensure fair trials in courts and this has seen many activists raising alarm that the judicial system to some extent is controlled by the China Communist Party political legal committees, (Davis, M .1995).  This interferes with the fair outcome of cases in courts during the trial, even before evidence is presented to the courts. The detainees are put at a risk of unfair trial and impartial hearings which are not free from the manipulation of the officials.  Furthermore, the detainees are given very limited time to consult their lawyers before the trial  which denies the suspects’ enough time for their lawyers to provide enough evidence for their cases.

            Administrative procedures implemented in China also have been claimed to be used by the authorities to detain a huge number of Chinese and Tibetans annually. Administrative detention denies suspects an opportunity to defend themselves. For example, ‘reeducation through labor’ is a form of an administrative detention which allows police to sent individuals to labour camps for up to four years without trial.  The other form of administrative detention is the ‘shelter and investigation’, where police can detain suspects without up to 3 months trial, which ignores the time limit in this kind of routine.  When China faces international pressure to release political prisoners of conscience, it has been said to release them even before they complete their sentences, (Davis, M .1995).  However, those prisoners who are released experience violation of their rights in other ways.

            The prisoners may be forced into exile, detained again, harassed or in some cases subjected to continued police surveillance.  Notably, some former prisoners of conscience are denied identity cards and cannot acquire employment or travel without express official permission.  China’s lack of fully independent judiciary may discourage foreigners to visit the country regardless of the reason including to participate in the Olympic Games.  Every person is exposed to the risk of committing minor or serious offences, hence Olympic games participants’ and spectators also.  Denying them a fair trial if the unfortunate happens may discourage people to travel to China for the Olympic Games.

            China as a nation became a UN Convention against Torture Policy member in 1988, which promotes the protection of prisoners against torture or ill treatment.  Nevertheless, China has been said to torture detainees in their detention centers as well as prisons.  Methods of torture that have been mentioned to be used against the detainees include beatings, inadequate food and even poor hygiene, (Forsythe, D. 2005).  Torture is normally inflicted on the detainees to elicit confessions and also compel them to comply with the legal officers, a method used on both political and ordinary prisoners.  Some corrupt authorities at the detention camps go as far as asking for large sums of money from families of detainees.  This they claim is to compensate for the states’ provision of food and medicine to the detainees.  China’s refusal to allow open visits of prisons by the humanitarian organizations and unannounced visits to prisoners has raised concerns on China’s treatment of the prisoners.  This is said to be a very strong indication that China treats its prisoners in a manner that violates their rights. Activists and nations who advocate against such practices are campaigning against China’s host of Olympic Games and this may act as an impediment to the games.

            China has responsibility of staging a successful Olympic Games event.  This responsibility has come with the violation of human rights of some Chinese citizens.  The government has participated in an activity where people are being forced from their homes to make room for renovation of the Olympic Games facilities in preparation for the major event, later this layer.  The pre-Olympic ‘clean up’ of the Beijing area has affected the education of many school children.  For instance, many schools are being closed which offer education to many children of migrant laborers which    threatens   to leave these children without access to education.  However, the Chinese government has an obligation to provide education to all children, a provision of the international law.  According to the Human Rights Watch, May 2008, up to one million migrant workers were estimated to be expelled from the homes by the Beijing municipal officials.  This is due to the need of the China government to prepare for the opening of the Olympic Games.

            The Olympic Games venue has resulted to the construction of Bird’s Nest Stadium.  The construction was accompanied by pre-existing infrastructure demolition with residents’ houses near the location being cleared.  This led to the eviction of many families from the Stadium’s location, with relocating them being perceived as unjust, (Beijing 2008 China’s Olympian Human Rights Challenges .2008, Human Rights Watch).

              Human rights activists have gotten involved in this issue, calling for such actions to stop with  increased  hostility  been observed in the people and other concerned  citizens, with the demonstrators against the eviction facing detention if they don’t act in accordance with the law.  Other nations which have condemned China’s action are against the issue of China hosting the games which has promoted lack of commitment of the nations towards the Olympic Games.

            The Republic of China as a nation is currently being faced by its human rights violation against the Tibetans, who are demanding for their political independence.  Tibetans have demonstrated peacefully to push for their political and religious rights with hundreds of them being incarcerated by the Chinese government and many of them being subjected to torture in the prisons and the detention camps, accompanied by ill treatment.   Some of the Tibetans prisoners are women who face very violent acts when in prisons or detention camps.  The Chinese laws enforcement personnel has been claimed to tolerate violent acts against the women as well as perpetrating them.

            Examples of ill treatment of the Tibetan prisoners have included torture, degrading and inhuman treatment, rape and sexual abuse.   These forms of ill treatment in the past have even been directed to the Buddhist nuns and lay women.  In the past, one Tibetan nun was recorded to have died in custody after the guards beatings.   Religious practice amongst the Tibetans has become restricted by the Chinese government.  It is estimated that since the 1949 invasion of Tibet by China, Chinese have destroyed an estimated 6,000 Buddhist monasteries (Carol A.G., 1994).

            However, only a few hundred monasteries have been built by the Chinese government.  To make matters worse, the Chinese government conducts transfers of thousands of Chinese nationals into Tibet, as one of the Republic of China’s policy.  The greatest threat to this move is that Tibetans are most likely to become a minority in their own land.  It also means that the identity of the Tibetans is being destroyed in relation to their nationality, religion and even cultural identity.

            Human rights advocate for the protection of human life.  The Chinese government’s one-child policy has undermined the right to life, especially of female children, (Foot, R. 2000).  In conjunction with the traditional preference for male children, practices of female infanticide have increased in China.  Female births are concealed while the female infants are abandoned.  These children are not registered, denying them legal existence, education and medical care services.  In the orphanages, female children comprise the larger percentage and prenatal sex identification practices result to the abortion of female fetuses where the ratio of male to female newborns is increasing. The campaigns conducted against such human rights violation may affect the success and even impede the Olympic Games.


            Human rights need to be protected and promoted all over the world, because they ensure human life and its integrity is maintained. Any nation needs to ensure that its citizens and non-citizens live and are treated in a humane way. China  as a state violates  human rights and the government tolerates the violation practices, which  has currently  in turn threatening to impede the Olympic games. Many other nations apart from  China have violated the human rights  and this   should not be  tolerated at all ,regardless of the government’s political interests which may be at the expense of human rights protection. Whether the Olympics games in Beijing succeed or not, human rights should be protected and appropriate punishment meted out on the violators.

Works Cited

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Beijing 2008 China’s Olympian Human Rights Challenges .2008, Human Rights Watch

Carol A.G. Capitalism, Globalization and Rule of Law: An Alternative Trajectory          of        Legal Change in China, Social and Legal Studies, vol. 3 .1994. pp. 195-220

Davis, M.  Chinese perspectives on Human Rights, Human Rights and Chinese   Values,            Oxford University Press. 1995.

Edwards, C. China’s Abuses Ignored for Profit, Insight on the News, Vol. 15, December 20,     1999.

Forsythe, D. P.. The Humanitarians: The International Committee of the Red Cross        Cambridge University Press. 2005

Foot, R. Rights beyond Borders: The Global Community and the Struggle over   Human Rights            in China, Oxford University Press, 2000

Loeb, V. U.S will criticize Chinese human right record. The Detroit News. 1999

Kent, A. Between Freedom and Subsistence: China and Human Rights, Oxford University       Press.1993