Freedom House has just released its latest report and it shows that China has once again upheld its glittering reputation for political rights, civil liberties, and freedom of speech.
China achieved an impressive aggregate score of 16 out of 100 with a full 7 marks in political rights (where 1 is most free and 7 is least, by the way), 6 in civil liberties and a freedom rating of 6.5.
Freedom House has thus stamped the country (again) with the “not free” label, which also encompasses its press and net status. In their the report on China they credit the man at the top:
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping, who assumed his post in 2012, continued to display a centralized and hands-on leadership style–as well as an intolerance for dissent–in 2015. Xi heads a growing list of coordinating bodies that give him direct supervision over policy areas including domestic security, economic reform, internet management, and ethnic relations.
While the report goes on to acknowledge China’s recent crackdown on corruption, it also condemns the country’s new “hard-line policies on political freedoms and civil liberties /NGOs law,” noting the simultaneous crackdowns on human rights activists and foreign journalists.
Here’s a relevant excerpt from the world overview:
In China, modest reform measures in 2015—such as incremental judicial changes, relaxation of household registration rules, and a shift to a two-child policy—were more than offset by harsh campaigns against dissent and a renewed emphasis on the Communist Party’s leadership in political, social, and economic life. The government of Xi Jinping responded to the stock-market drop with aggressive interventions in the market itself, enhanced censorship and propaganda efforts, and a new crackdown on civil society. Within a 48-hour period in July, for example, over 200 individuals involved in public-interest legal activism were taken into custody in a nationwide sweep. Other targets, whose work the authorities had previously tolerated, included financial journalists, public health advocates, labor rights activists, and women’s rights defenders. This escalation illustrated the growing brutality and anxiety of China’s leaders.
Prominent businessmen and securities traders were also rounded up, adding new risks to doing business in China. But in a sign that favored firms would join the regime in promoting a rosier view of the country, the Chinese internet giant Alibaba purchased the South China Morning Post, pledging to use Hong Kong’s most prominent English-language newspaper to improve China’s global image.
On the topic of Hong Kong, Freedom House awarded a more generous score of 63, with a 5 in political rights and an enviable 2 in civil liberties, affording it a status of “partly free.”
Meanwhile, Tibet made the mainland proud with an even lower aggregate score of 11, attaining full marks of 7 in both the political rights and civil liberties categories, as the autonomous region continues in its Golden Age.
[Images via Freedom House]