China (includes Tibet)

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in China to promote democracy and human rights. For background on China's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The United States will continue to urge China to adhere to its international obligations, to international human rights standards, and to protect its citizens' constitutional rights by advocating for reform, promoting universal norms of civil liberties and raising individual cases of concern. Key programmatic elements aim to promote the rule of law and protect civil and minority rights, strengthen the judicial system, improve public participation and transparency in governance, bolster civil society, expand religious freedom, and preserve minority communities and culture.

The United States employs multiple diplomatic and public diplomacy strategies to promote human rights and democracy in China, all of which emphasize that progress in these areas is in China's interest. U.S. officials publicly and privately urge the government to bring its human rights practices into compliance with international standards, to make systemic reforms, and to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The United States encourages the government to strengthen China's judicial system and judicial independence, and strengthen the rule of law; encourage democratic political reform; promote freedom of religion and the press; protect human rights, including the rights of workers, women, and ethnic and religious minority groups; improve transparency in governance; and strengthen civil society.

The United States publicly and privately urges the government to distinguish carefully between those seeking to express peaceful political dissent and those engaged in terrorism. The U.S. has expressed to the Chinese government its concern over the treatment of Uighur Muslims forcibly returned from Cambodia where they were seeking asylum. U.S. officials also press the government not to repatriate forcibly North Korean refugees, and to allow UNHCR officials access to this vulnerable population. The United States urges the government to put an end to coercive elements of its birth limitation program.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

In May 2010 the United States and China held a formal bilateral Human Rights Dialogue. Among other topics, U.S. officials emphasized how the impartial application of an objective body of law, without political interference, could help the country address the challenges it faces in creating a more just and stable society.

As part of its efforts to promote legal reform, promote progress on the rule of law, and encourage judicial independence, the United States funds projects designed to provide legal technical assistance, assist efforts to reform China's criminal code, strengthen legal education, support judicial independence, improve access to legal representation, and enable average citizens to find the information necessary to seek protection under the law. For example, a U.S.-supported project provides training for prosecutors to bring trial skills up to international standards, and complementary projects focus on techniques for defense attorneys. Another program has facilitated engagement by a U.S. federal prosecutor with China's legal academic community and government in order to encourage criminal justice reform. This U.S. official lectures at government training institutions and universities, as well as directly at courts and prosecutors' offices, on issues ranging from search and seizure to compelling witness testimony at trial, and participates in international and domestic anticorruption conferences.

U.S. officials coordinate programs for federal and state judges and other legal experts to discuss trial and criminal procedure reform, discovery and evidence rules, prison reform, and other rule of law issues with judges, lawyers, officials, and academics. The U.S. Government also supports a partnership between U.S. and Chinese universities to help promote legal and justice system reform; to enhance the rule of law; and to improve access to legal representation for disenfranchised populations. The U.S. Speakers Program supports these efforts by sponsoring U.S. speakers to discuss rule of law issues throughout China. Approximately one-third of all Chinese citizens who participated in U.S. government-sponsored professional exchange programs worked in democracy and rights-related fields or in areas related to religion. U.S. sponsored rule of law programs include opportunities for legal scholars to undertake independent, advanced research at U.S. universities, and for U.S. professors to teach at top law schools and lecture at leading legal training institutions in the country.

The United States supports programs to increase popular participation in government and foster the development of local elections. U.S. programs support grassroots democratization efforts through training elected village officials and deputies to local legislatures. The U.S. government supports projects that increase the capacity of independent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to address civil society and governance issues, expand access for marginalized citizens to legal services, and enable citizens to provide input individually and collectively into public decisions. U.S. officials frequently raise concerns with the Chinese government over restrictions on NGOs, emphasizing the important contributions NGOs can make in developing a vibrant civil society.

The U.S. government supports seminars and training on international standards of free expression, reaching out to journalists, lawyers, judges, and lawmakers. Visiting U.S. officials regularly discuss the need for greater Internet and press freedom with Chinese counterparts. U.S. officials also repeatedly raise the cases of detained journalists and citizens in public remarks and in private meetings with senior government officials. U.S. officials work with Internet portals and media organizations to expand the nature and quality of discussion on many topics including trade, clean energy development, and the U.S. electoral process.

The United States promotes compliance with internationally recognized labor standards. U.S. officials also monitor compliance with the 1992 U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding and 1994 Statement of Cooperation that prohibits the importation of products of prison labor, but they receive very limited cooperation from the government. U.S. officials also investigate allegations of forced and child labor. The Chinese government, through the All China Women's Federation, works with the International Labor Organization to prevent trafficking of women and children for labor exploitation.

The United States supports programs to combat human trafficking and promote HIV/AIDS education. The United States and the Chinese government conduct exchanges on coal mine safety and occupational safety pursuant to a Letter of Understanding, and exchanges on wage and hour administration, law enforcement, and pension security. The United States funds programs that support technical cooperation on dispute resolution and help develop the capacity of local organizations involved in rights protection and legal aid for workers.


Within the framework of our recognition that Tibet is part of China,the United States has urged the Chinese government to enter into substantive dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama toaddress issues concerning religious freedom and protection of Tibetan culture andto advocate vigorously for improvements in the human rights and religious freedom conditions in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas of China. The United States consistently presses for unfettered access to the region by journalists, diplomats, and other international observers, and calls for the release of all prisoners of conscience, and for the proper treatment of all detainees. U.S. officials continue publicly to urge China to end repressive policies that played a role in triggering the recent unrest. U.S. government officials at all levels continue to raise individual human rights cases involving Tibetans, including the status of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama. The U.S. Government seeks to expand exchanges with Tibetans resident in China, including government officials and religious leaders, through the International Visitor Leadership Program and other exchange opportunities.