China Media Project posted the results of a brief study on the discussion of “rights” in three Communist party publications and three commercial publications in China. While the term “human rights” is often avoided due to the Chinese government’s sensitivity, the term “rights protection” is appearing more often in Chinese media. Looking at the chart posted by CMP, the number of appearances of “rights protection” in party publications was on the rise from 2002 to 2004 and it decreased since then. The trend for commercial publications is a steady increase although many journalists experienced job loss, detention and even jail sentence, and at its worst, the authorities would shut down a newspaper altogether. In January 2006, the popular weekly newspaper supplement Freezing Point (or Bingdian in Chinese) got closed by the authorities and then reopened after some serious criticism from former party officials.

CMP bar graph

Even without the CMP’s study, the increased in social unrest around the country in recent years shows that Chinese citizens are becoming more aware of their rights. The constant crackdown on local demonstrations might be a tactic to prevent a nation wide protest like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests but it does not solve the root cause of human rights neglect.

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