(New York) – The Group of Twenty heads of government should call on China to end its relentless crackdown on Chinese activist groups, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to participating countries. China will host the annual G20 meeting in Hangzhou on September 4-5, 2016.
The governments should also protest China’s restrictions on civil society group participation in the G20 process.
“China’s disregard for activist groups is evident in its crackdown at home and the severe restrictions it placed on them at the G20 summit,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “It’s important for G20 leaders to publicly and privately call out China for its abusive practices, or share the blame for the sorry treatment of activists around the summit.”
The Human Rights Watch letter details China’s calculated efforts under President Xi Jinping to suppress civil society, including anti-corruption campaigners and labor rights activists, using harassment, prosecution, and restrictive laws such as the Foreign Non-Governmental Organization Management Law, which limits interactions between domestic and foreign organizations. The letter notes abuses of religious freedom of Christians in Hangzhou, and the ways in which Beijing’s hostility toward independent voices has compromised the G20 by limiting independent groups’ participation in the civil society (C20) and labor (L20) preparatory meetings.
The letter was sent in early August to Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“If the G20 is serious about consulting civil society groups, its leaders will have to tour China’s prisons, not the conference venue in Hangzhou,” Richardson said. “Letting China host this meeting and staying silent on its abuses will send the Chinese government – and people across China – absolutely the wrong message.”