Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination : China. 08/09/2001.
A/56/18,paras.231-255. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF DISCRIMINATION

Fifty-ninth session
30 July – 17 August 2001



China

231. The Committee considered the eighth and ninth periodic reports of China (CERD/C/357/Add.4, Parts I, II and III), which were due on 28 January 1997 and 28 January 1999, respectively, submitted as one document, at its 1468th and 1469th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1468 and 1469), on 31 July and 1 August 2001. The eighth and ninth periodic reports of China consist of three separate parts. Part I covers the whole of China, with the exception of the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, which are covered by Part II and Part III respectively. At its 1480th and 1481st meetings (CERD/C/SR.1480 and 1481), on 8 and 9 August 2001, it adopted the following concluding observations.


A. Introduction

232. The Committee welcomes the opportunity to continue its dialogue with the State party, including with representatives from the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions. The Committee was encouraged by the attendance of a large delegation representing important governmental departments as well as the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions.

233. The Committee welcomes the detailed and comprehensive report submitted by the State party, the contents of which correspond with the Committee’s guidelines for the preparation of reports. The additional oral information provided by the delegation in response to the wide range of questions asked by Committee members is also appreciated.

234. In view of the dialogue held, the Committee wishes to emphasize that irrespective of the relationship between the central authorities and the special administrative regions, and the principle “One Country, Two Systems”, the People’s Republic of China, as the State party to the Convention, has the responsibility to ensure its implementation on its entire territory.

235. The Committee acknowledges the difficulties inherent in policy-making and administration, including the standardization of essential services, of a territory as vast as China with more than 1.2 billion inhabitants, including 55 minority nationalities.


B. Positive aspects


236. The Committee welcomes the efforts made by the State party to promote economic and social development in economically backward regions inhabited largely by minority populations, including Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Xinjiang, Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinhai. The Committee notes in particular the investments in infrastructure development and the creation of poverty alleviation projects financing the construction of primary schools in western China.

237. The Committee notes with interest the existence and functions of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission created under the State Council as the department in charge of ethnic affairs as well as the fact that the Commission should be headed by a person belonging to an ethnic minority.

238. The Committee notes that as a result of its previously expressed concerns and recommendations, the recently conducted 2001 Population Census in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region included questions which would help to determinate the ethnic and racial composition of the region and allow for the identification of minority groups and an analysis of their political, economic and social situation.

239. The Committee welcomes the extensive consultation with civil society in the preparation of, in particular, the part of the State party’s report pertaining to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the indication by the delegation that projects are already under way in that region to address some of the problems identified by non-governmental organizations during those consultations, such as the provision of language training for immigrants, mainly of Nepalese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin.

240. The Committee notes article 25 of the Basic Law of the Special Administrative Region of Macau, giving a constitutional right to all Macau residents to be free from discrimination, irrespective of, inter alia, their nationality, descent, race, sex, language or religion.


C. Concerns and recommendations

241. With regard to the interpretation of the definition of racial discrimination, the Committee notes that according to article 4 of the Constitution “all nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal. The State protects the lawful rights and interests of the minority nationalities …”. In view of this provision, the Committee seeks clarification with regard to existing guarantees against discrimination on all grounds referred to in article 1 of the Convention, i.e. race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, and recommends that the State party review its legislation to ensure the adoption of a definition of discrimination in accordance with the Convention.

242. With regard to the implementation of articles 2 and 4 of the Convention, the Committee notes the prohibition of the “incitement of national enmity or discrimination” by any organization or individual provided by articles 149 and 250 of the 1997 Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. However, the Committee recalls that the stipulated requisites of serious or flagrant circumstances or consequences are not in accordance with the Convention.

Regarding the prohibition of racial discrimination in general, the Committee recommends that the State party consider giving full effect to the provisions of the Convention in its domestic legal order and ensure the penalization of racial discrimination, as well as access to effective protection and remedies through the competent national tribunals or other State institutions against all acts of racial discrimination.

243. The Committee notes that economic development in minority regions does not, ipso facto, entail the equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in accordance with article 5 (e) of the Convention. The State party is requested to provide further information on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by all nationalities of China and regarding steps taken to ensure that the minority population benefits from the general economic growth. In this context, the State party is requested to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the local and regional cultures and traditions are also promoted and the rights of the populations fully respected.

244. While noting the State party’s information in this regard, some members of the Committee remain concerned with regard to the actual enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion by people belonging to national minorities in the State party, particularly in the Muslim part of Xinjiang and in Tibet. The Committee recalls that a distinctive religion is integral to the identity of several minorities and urges the State party to review legislation and practices that may restrict the right of persons belonging to minorities to freedom of religion.

245. While recognizing efforts made, which have resulted in an increased number of schools and a decrease of illiteracy in minority regions, the Committee is concerned about continuous reports of discrimination with regard to the right to education in minority regions, with particular emphasis on Tibet, and recommends that the State party urgently ensure that children in all minority areas have the right to develop knowledge about their own language and culture as well as the Chinese, and that they are guaranteed equal opportunities, particularly with regard to access to higher education.

246. While noting the State party’s efforts to facilitate integration and naturalization of Indo-Chinese refugees in mainland China, the Committee is concerned that different standards of treatment are applied to Indo-Chinese asylum-seekers, on the one hand, and asylum-seekers of other national origins on the other, notably with regard to the right to work and education. Particular concern is expressed regarding the treatment of asylum-seekers from the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, who are reportedly systematically refused asylum and returned, even in cases when they have been considered to be refugees by UNHCR. The Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary measures to ensure that all refugees and asylum-seekers receive equal treatment. To this end, the Committee recommends that the State party consider pursuing the adoption of formal legislative or administrative provisions in order to implement objective criteria for the determination of refugee status.

247. With reference to article 2, paragraph 1 (d), of the Convention, the Committee takes note of ongoing consultations, but reiterates its concern about the continued absence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of legal provisions protecting persons from racial discrimination to which they may be subjected by private persons, groups or organizations. The Committee does not accept the argument put forward for not initiating such legislation, i.e. that such legislation would not be supported by the society as a whole. It is recommended that the Government of the State party and the local authorities of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region review the existing unsatisfactory situation thoroughly and that appropriate legislation be adopted to provide appropriate legal remedies and prohibit discrimination based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, as has been done with regard to discrimination on the grounds of gender and disability.

248. The Committee reiterates its concern regarding the situation of foreign domestic workers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, and the existence of certain rules and practices, such as the so-called “two-weeks rule”, which may be discriminatory in effect.

249. The Committee requests the State party to provide in subsequent reports, inter alia, detailed information on judicial cases relating specifically to violations of the Convention, including in the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, with special reference to the granting by courts of adequate reparation for such violations.

250. The Committee recommends that the next State party report contain socio-economic data, disaggregated by national and ethnic group, and information on measures taken to prevent gender-related racial discrimination, including in the area of trafficking and reproductive health. The Committee also wishes to receive statistics, disaggregated by nationality and region, relating to detention, imprisonment, alleged, investigated and prosecuted cases of torture, death sentences and executions.

251. The State party is also invited to provide in its next report further information on the powers of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the impact of activities undertaken by it.

252. It is noted that the State party has not made the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention, and the Committee recommends that the possibility of such a declaration be considered.

253. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention.

254. The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports continue to be made readily available to the public from the time they are submitted and that the Committee’s observations on them be similarly publicized.

255. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its tenth periodic report jointly with its eleventh periodic report, due on 28 January 2003, and that it address all points raised in the present observations.


1996-2001
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland