China to defend human rights record at United Nations 


China is set to defend its human rights record before a United Nations panel in Geneva, for the first time since President Xi Jinping assumed office.

The review is part of a regular process undergone by all UN member states every four years.

China‘s review comes amid criticism from rights groups that it has failed to address issues – such as detention of activists – in its last review.

The Foreign Ministry said China was sending a “very large” delegation.

Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that this “demonstrates the importance the Chinese government has put” on its second human rights review.

Chinese officials will make a presentation, part of which will discuss “efforts they have made in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges”, a previous statement from the UN said.

When China‘s human rights record was reviewed four years ago, its representatives told the UN no Chinese citizens were punished for expressing their opinions and China did not censor the internet, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

Human rights groups disagree strongly with this, saying activists are regularly harassed and detained, torture is widespread in prisons and media is heavily restricted.

In the run up to this review, it appears a number of Chinese activists have been arrested or banned from travelling, in a bid to prevent them testifying in Geneva, our correspondent adds.

Ahead of proceedings on Tuesday, at least three Tibet activists scaled scaffolding at the UN headquarters in Geneva, with a banner saying: “China human rights – UN stand up on Tibet”, reports Reuters news agency.

Activist missing

The review comes a day after wealthy Chinese businessman Wang Gongquan was formally arrested after he was suspected of “gathering crowds to disturb public order”.

Mr Wang is considered a key supporter of a group of activists pushing for more official transparency, New Citizens Movement, which has been targeted in a crackdown this year.

A number of bloggers and journalists have also been detained over alleged “rumour-mongering”, and high-profile micro-bloggers targeted.

A well-known legal rights activist has also recently disappeared after being questioned by Beijing airport police, a rights group says.

Cao Shunli has not been seen since 14 September, when she was barred from boarding a flight to Switzerland to attend a UN human rights training course, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

The UN panel – with a rotating membership of 47 states that does not currently include China – has no binding powers. The review will be broadcast live on the internet.

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