In the 2005 Annual Report released last Tuesday by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), they have found no improvements in human rights conditions and reported an increase in government restrictions placed on Chinese citizens who worship in state-controlled venues.
The Commission's twenty Legislative and Executive Branch members unanimously approved the report 18-1, with the exception of one commissioner saying "present."
"This is an honest report that takes a comprehensive look at human rights and rule of law in China," Chairman of CECC Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) said in a statement released by CECC.
In the 193 page report it says the "Chinese government continues to harass, abuse, and detain religious believers who seek to practice their faith outside state-controlled religious venues," meanwhile, "religious believers who worship within state-controlled channels are subjected to government regulation of all aspects of their faith."
Effective Mar. 1, China launched a new Regulation on Religious Affairs that comprised of 48 articles within seven chapters, ensuring Chinese citizens the freedom of religious beliefs.
Article 1 says, "These Regulations are formulated in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws for the purposes of ensuring citizens' freedom of religious belief, maintaining harmony among and between religions, preserving social concord and regulating the administration of religious affairs," according to Amity News Service.
The new regulations received wide acceptance by government officials and some Chinese experts, however, human rights advocates and religious believers argue that "the more detailed" the regulation, the more it will "limit the ability of religious believers to worship freely in China," a Washington Watchgroup reported CECC as saying.
For instance, shortly after the new regulations were implemented, dozens of house church leaders were arrested and "a generally harsher Communist Party policy, particularly in ethnic regions."
Meanwhile, Protestant groups in both registered and unregistered churches have experienced, in the past year, tightened restrictions.
Since a campaign was launched in 2002 against unregistered Protestant groups, "Hundreds of unregistered Protestants associated with house churches have been intimidated, beaten, or imprisoned. The Chinese government opposes the relationships that many unregistered Protestant house churches have developed with co-religionists outside China," CECC reported.
Another relationship that China does not approve of is the relationship the Vatican has with Taiwan.
The "Chinese government continues to repress Catholics, despite assurances of its desire to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See," the report said, and as a "precondition to negotiations, the Holy See must renounce a papal role in the selection of bishops and break relations with Taiwan."
The Commission has made 14 recommendations this year for China and said they will continue to list them out until the government starts implementing changes, which includes recommendations from past reports in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
CECC recognizes that the Chinese people are the only ones who have the right to decide the direction of China, and the U.S. does not mean to impose, however according to the documents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that China took part in drafting, it set the human rights standards for all nations.
Hagel said in the statement that "China's leaders will not achieve their long-term goal of social stability and continued economic development without building a future that includes human rights for all Chinese citizens."
He added that "China's development will impact all of Asia," which will in turn impact the world, therefore "respect for human rights must be part of the future."
The CECC was established by "Congress in Oct. 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and Congress."
"It consists of nine Senators, nine members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President."