China | Freedom House

Freedom in the World


Freedom in the World 2016
Freedom Status: 
Not Free
Aggregate Score: 
Freedom Rating: 
Political Rights: 
Civil Liberties: 

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free
Net Freedom Status: 
Not Free

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary Xi Jinping, who assumed his post in 2012, continued to display a centralized and hands-on leadership style—as well as an intolerance for dissent—in 2015. Xi heads a growing list of coordinating bodies that give him direct supervision over policy areas including domestic security, economic reform, internet management, and ethnic relations.

An aggressive anticorruption campaign reached the highest echelons of the party during the year, culminating with a sentence of life in prison for former Politburo Standing Committee member and internal security czar Zhou Yongkang. Party and government bodies also pushed forward incremental judicial reforms, relaxed household registration rules, and eased population controls.

However, such initiatives were accompanied by hard-line policies on political freedoms and civil liberties and a rejection of judicial oversight of party actions. Harassment of previously tolerated civil society organizations, women’s rights defenders, labor activists, and human rights lawyers intensified during the year. In July, security forces detained over 250 individuals involved in public-interest legal work in an unprecedented crackdown on China’s “rights-defense movement.” Internet controls continued to tighten, and several professional journalists were detained, imprisoned, and forced to make televised confessions.

The government introduced, amended, or passed laws that could further infringe on freedoms of association, expression, and religion. In July, the legislature passed a new National Security Law that defines security broadly to include political considerations like retaining CCP domination of the “ideological sphere.” An Antiterrorism Law was adopted in December, while draft legislation on cybersecurity and foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were pending at year’s end.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 

Political Rights: 1 / 40 (−1) [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 0 / 12

The CCP has a monopoly on political power, and its Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) sets government and party policy. At the 18th Party Congress in November 2012, a new PSC—headed by Xi—was announced following an opaque selection process. The committee shrank from nine to seven members. Party members—who number some 80 million nationwide, or about 6 percent of the population—hold almost all top posts in the government, military, and internal security services, as well as in many economic entities and social organizations. Xi, the CCP general secretary, also serves as chairman of the state and party military commissions, and was named state president in March 2013.

The country’s legislature, the 3,000-member National People’s Congress (NPC), is elected for five-year terms by subnational congresses. It formally elects the state president for up to two five-year terms, and confirms the premier after he is nominated by the president. However, the NPC is a largely symbolic body. Only its standing committee meets regularly, while the full congress convenes for just two weeks a year to approve proposed legislation. The current NPC was seated in March 2013.

The country’s only competitive elections are for village committees and urban residency councils, which hold limited authority and are generally subordinate to the local CCP committees. The nomination of candidates remains tightly controlled, and many of the elections have been marred by fraud, corruption, and attacks on independent candidates.


B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 1 / 16

The CCP does not tolerate any form of organized opposition or independent political parties. Citizens who attempt to form opposition parties or advocate for democratic reforms have been sentenced to long prison terms. Democracy advocate and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remained behind bars in 2015, having been sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison for his role in organizing the prodemocracy manifesto Charter 08. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under strict extralegal house arrest since 2010.

Several activists detained in previous years faced trial and imprisonment in 2015, including in connection with the New Citizens Movement—a loosely organized network of individuals seeking to promote the rule of law, transparency, and human rights—that was the focus of a crackdown launched in 2013. In May, a court in Hubei Province sentenced Liu Jiacai to five years in prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for his online writings and for organizing gatherings of human rights defenders.

In addition to advocates of democracy and political reform, tens of thousands of grassroots activists, petitioners, Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Tibetans, and Uighurs are believed to be in prison or extrajudicial forms of detention for their political or religious views, although complete figures are unavailable. In October 2014, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China published a partial list of over 1,200 current political prisoners.


C. Functioning of Government: 2 / 12

Party leaders and disciplinary bodies in 2015 accelerated an antigraft campaign launched by Xi in November 2012. During the year, the campaign—described by experts as the most sustained and intensive effort of its kind in recent memory—increasingly focused on central government and party organs, state-owned enterprises, and the financial sector. Scores of senior state and party officials had been investigated and punished by mid-2015, including individuals from the security apparatus, the military, the foreign ministry, state-owned enterprises, and state media. Most notably, in June, former PSC member and internal security chief Zhou Yongkang was sentenced after a closed trial to life imprisonment, having been convicted of bribery, abuse of power, and leaking state secrets. In October, two of his close associates—Jiang Jiemin, former head of China’s largest state-run oil company, and Li Chuncheng, previously a top official in Sichuan Province—were sentenced to 16 years and 13 years in prison, respectively, on graft and abuse of power charges. Over 400,000 lower-ranking officials have also reportedly been disciplined by the party, prosecuted, or punished by the courts since the launch of the campaign.

Despite these efforts, corruption remained widespread, as the leadership rejected more fundamental reforms, such as requiring officials to publicly disclose their assets, creating genuinely independent oversight bodies, or lifting political constraints on journalists and law enforcement agencies. The leading agency behind the current campaign has been the CCP’s own Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Prosecutions are typically selective and decision making highly opaque, with informal personal networks and internal CCP power struggles influencing both the choice of targets and the outcomes. Factional infighting was widely seen as the primary cause of Zhou’s prosecution, even if the charges themselves had merit. According to some experts, one byproduct of the arbitrary and political nature of the anticorruption campaign has been increased bureaucratic inertia and policy paralysis, as officials fear being punished for even legitimate governing decisions.

Crackdowns on independent anticorruption activists, including those in the New Citizens Movement, and reprisals against foreign media for investigations of influence peddling by top officials’ families, such as the long-term blocking of the New York Times website, have further undermined the effectiveness and legitimacy of the campaign. China was ranked 83 out of 168 countries and territories surveyed in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index.

CCP officials continued to seek input from academics and civic groups regarding certain policy areas, though without relinquishing control over the decision-making process. Since open-government regulations took effect in 2008, many agencies have become more forthcoming in publishing official documents. High-level party declarations encourage greater disclosure of information, though implementation of previous measures has been incomplete. The poor quality of official responses has dampened citizens’ initial eagerness to lodge complaints.


Discretionary Political Rights Question B: −2 / 0 (−1)

The government continues to pursue policies, including large-scale resettlement and work-transfer programs, that are designed in part to alter the demography of ethnic minority regions, especially Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In late 2014, officials relaxed the household registration (hukou) requirements for Xinjiang in a manner that sparked an increase in Han Chinese migration in 2015 into areas that had been predominantly Uighur. Some Uighurs complained that their own ability to migrate within the region to the same urban areas remained restricted. Cash incentives encourage Uighur families to have fewer children than the permitted three-child limit for ethnic minorities, while in some locales, authorities have intensified crackdowns on “unauthorized births.” [Note: Tibet is examined in a separate report.]


Civil Liberties: 15 / 60

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 4 / 16

Despite relative freedom in private discussion and citizen efforts to push the limits of permissible public speech, China’s media environment remains extremely restrictive. All Chinese television, radio, and print outlets are owned by the CCP or the state. Moreover, all media outlets are required to follow regularly issued CCP directives to avoid certain topics or publish content from party mouthpieces. In addition to routinely censored topics like the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, directives issued in 2015 “guided” reporting or required deletion of content related to stock-market plunges, industrial accidents, the popular environmental documentary Under the Dome, high-level corruption, and extremist violence. Outlets that disobey official guidance risk closure, while journalists face dismissal and sometimes imprisonment.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 49 journalists and online writers were behind bars in China as of December 2015, a record number for the country since CPJ began tracking it and the largest total in the world. The total number of Chinese citizens jailed for offenses involving freedom of expression, especially on the internet, was much higher.

Pressure on investigative journalism and liberal media outlets intensified during the year, as several respected journalists faced detentions, forced televised confessions, and questionable charges of bribery, “obtaining state secrets,” or “spreading false rumors.” Following a trend from 2014, mainstream print journalists were detained or sentenced to prison alongside internet-based writers, ethnic minority journalists, and freelancers; cases against mainstream journalists had previously been less common. Gao Yu, a prominent 71-year-old journalist, was sentenced in April to seven years in prison for “leaking state secrets.” Her sentence was reduced to five years in November, and she was released to serve it at home due to deteriorating health. In August, journalist Wang Xiaolu of the financial magazine Caijing was arrested and forced to make a televised confession regarding his coverage of the stock market. In December, former 21st Century Media chairman Shen Hao was sentenced to four years in prison for extortion and embezzlement.

Harassment of foreign reporters continued during the year, including occasional physical assaults, hostile editorials in state media, and intimidation of the reporters’ Chinese sources and staff. The authorities used the threat of visa denials to retaliate against foreign journalists and news organizations for investigative or critical reporting. In December, journalist Ursula Gauthier was expelled after publishing an article in a French magazine that was critical of Chinese policies in Xinjiang. In September, shortly before Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States, Chris Buckley of the New York Times was granted permission to return to China; he had been forced to leave in 2012 after authorities refused to renew his press credentials. The websites of Bloomberg News and the New York Times have been blocked since 2012, when they reported on the wealth of top leaders’ families; Reuters and the Wall Street Journal have also been blocked. Some international radio and television broadcasts, including the U.S. government–funded Radio Free Asia, have long been jammed.      

The authorities block websites or force the deletion of content they deem politically threatening, and Chinese internet companies are obliged to adhere to official censorship directives. A range of Google services, the photo-sharing site Flickr, and cloud services like Dropbox were inaccessible in 2015 following blocks imposed the previous year. The U.S.-based social-media platforms Twitter and Facebook have been blocked for years. In July, the government introduced a new Cybersecurity Law that, if passed, would provide a legal basis for authorities to shut down internet connectivity at times of public security emergencies, while requiring companies to better enforce real-name registration rules and store user data in China.

Domestic microblogging and private chat services—with hundreds of millions of users—have grown rapidly since 2010 as a source of news, an outlet for public opinion, and a tool for civic mobilization. However, since 2013, the authorities have intensified real-name registration rules, criminalization of online speech, and restrictions on the sharing of unofficial news via popular platforms like Sina Weibo and Tencent’s WeChat. During 2015, numerous individuals—particularly rights attorneys—who had used these tools for human rights advocacy or to express opinions critical of the government were arrested, prosecuted, and subject to smear campaigns in state media. Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent public-interest lawyer, was convicted in December of “stirring up trouble” and “inciting ethnic hatred” through seven Weibo posts that mocked government officials and criticized ethnic policy; he was given a suspended three-year prison sentence, barred from practicing law, and released from custody after 19 months in detention. In March, GitHub, a U.S.-based international code-sharing site that hosted websites censored in China, was hit with a massive denial-of-service attack that was traced to Chinese government servers and reportedly featured a new cyberattack tool dubbed “The Great Cannon” by researchers.

Religious freedom is sharply curtailed by the formally atheist CCP. All religious groups must register with the government, which regulates their activities, oversees clergy, and guides theology. Some groups, including certain Buddhist and Christian sects, are forbidden, and their members face harassment, imprisonment, and torture. The largest among them is the Falun Gong spiritual group, whose adherents continued to suffer detention in extralegal centers for forced conversion or sentencing to long prison terms during 2015. Those who advocated on their behalf were also punished; lawyers who had taken Falun Gong cases were among those arrested in the summer crackdown. Other unregistered groups, including unofficial Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations, operate in a legal gray zone. Some are able to meet quietly with the tacit approval of local authorities, but other “house church” gatherings are raided or evicted from their meeting locations. Harassment of both underground and state-sanctioned churches continued in 2015, especially in Zhejiang Province, where officials sought to curb the popularity of Christianity by removing publicly visible crosses and demolishing many church buildings. Some 1,200 crosses were removed between February 2014 and July 2015, according to Christian activists, and at least one pastor from a state-sanctioned church was sentenced to prison in 2015 for opposing the demolition campaign. An August amendment to the Criminal Law increased the maximum punishment for Article 300, “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law,” from 15 years to life imprisonment. The article is often invoked to punish religious believers.

Curbs on Islam among the Uighur population of Xinjiang remained intense in 2015, although authorities are more tolerant of religious expression among ethnic Hui Muslims throughout China. Authorities in Xinjiang continued to impose restrictions on religious attire, beards, and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, in some cases sentencing violators to prison. State repression of Uighur religious and cultural practices, coupled with socioeconomic grievances, have fueled frustration and radicalization among Uighurs, leading to a rising number of domestic terrorist attacks as well as peaceful protests that draw police violence. Such clashes have caused over 160 reported deaths since September 2014. Official restrictions on journalists’ access to Xinjiang make it difficult to independently verify the details surrounding these incidents. An Antiterrorism Law adopted in December featured a very broad definition of “terrorism” that could result in tighter surveillance and harsher punishments for Uighurs involved in nonviolent religious and cultural activities.

Academic freedom is restricted with respect to politically sensitive issues. The CCP controls the appointment of top university officials, and many scholars practice self-censorship to protect their careers. Political indoctrination is a required component of the curriculum at all levels of education. The space for academic discussion of democratic concepts shrank further in 2015 amid top-down pressure on universities to shun “Western” ideals.


E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 3 / 12

Freedoms of assembly and association are severely restricted. Citizens risk criminal punishment for organizing demonstrations without prior approval, which is rarely granted. Nevertheless, workers, farmers, and urban residents held tens of thousands of protests during 2015 to express grievances. The authorities have struggled to suppress protests without exacerbating public frustration, using force in some cases while employing subtler strategies to deter or disperse large gatherings in others. The number of environmental protests has increased in recent years. During 2015, Chinese authorities used force and arrested participants during environmental protests in several provinces, with violent tactics most frequently employed in ethnic minority areas. In April, police arrested over 50 people and reportedly killed at least one person during a violent crackdown on herders in Inner Mongolia who were demonstrating against pollution.

Local authorities routinely intercept and harass petitioners traveling to Beijing to report injustices, at times detaining them in illegal “black jails.” Detained petitioners, many of whom are women, are reportedly subject to beatings, psychological abuse, and sexual violence. Amendments to the Administrative Litigation Law that took effect in May 2015 strengthen the framework for citizens to challenge government actions in court, raising the possibility that some of the millions of grievances submitted annually as petitions might instead be handled by the courts.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are required to register, obtain a government sponsor, and follow strict regulations, including vague prohibitions on advocating non-CCP rule, “damaging national unity,” or “upsetting ethnic harmony.” Hundreds of thousands of organizations have formally registered, especially those whose work is not politically sensitive. Registration requirements for service-oriented “social organizations” were loosened under new regulations in many of China’s provinces in 2014. However, pressure on independent and grassroots NGOs intensified in 2015 amid an increase in raids, staff detentions, forced closures, and asset freezes for advocacy groups working on public health, education, and women’s rights issues—including the prominent Yirenping organization, the Transition Institute, and Weizhiming. In May, the government published a second draft of a Foreign NGO Management Law that, if passed, would increase the role of the Ministry of Public Security in supervising foreign NGOs; require more government permission and advanced registration to conduct even temporary activities; increase administrative burdens and official supervision for internal NGO affairs such as personnel and finances; and restrict overseas funding for Chinese individuals and NGOs. The law’s passage was pending as of December.

Arbitration mechanisms established under 2008 labor laws have proven disappointing to workers, who complain of biased mediators, lengthy procedures, and employers’ failure to comply with rulings. The only legal labor union is the government-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which has long been criticized for failing to properly defend workers’ rights. Nevertheless, workers have asserted themselves informally via strikes, collective petitioning, and selection of negotiating representatives. They have also used social media to bolster solidarity. Strike activity has surged in recent years. According to data published by the China Labour Bulletin, more than 2,700 strike incidents were reported in 2015, more than double the total for 2014.

Numerous labor rights activists were detained in 2015, especially in Guangdong Province, in the worst such crackdown in years. In May, Guangzhou authorities detained Liu Shaoming on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for his online writings and efforts to start a labor NGO; his trial was pending at year’s end. Also in Guangdong Province, authorities in December raided five grassroots groups that assist and advise workers, detaining at least seven people for possible prosecution. Violent attacks against labor advocates reportedly increased as well. In one high-profile case in April, a group of unidentified men abducted, beat, and then abandoned Peng Jiayong, who had been advising female factory workers on strike in Guangdong. The abduction took place immediately after Peng was released from a police station.


F. Rule of Law: 2 / 16

The CCP controls the judiciary. Party political-legal committees supervise the operations of courts at all levels, and allow party officials to influence verdicts and sentences. CCP oversight is especially evident in politically sensitive cases. Most judges are CCP members, and party and government officials determine judicial appointments, salaries, and promotions. Adjudication of minor civil and administrative disputes is fairer than in politically sensitive or criminal cases. However, even in commercial litigation and civil suits involving private individuals, previous limited progress toward the rule of law has stalled or been reversed in recent years.

Incremental reforms aimed at improving judicial performance began in 2014 and continued during 2015. The changes focused on increasing transparency, professionalism, and autonomy from local authorities, for example by having provincial rather than local officials oversee all courts. Some courts are also testing a jury-like assessor mechanism. Still, official statements—including the Supreme People’s Court five-year plan released in February—continued to emphasize the supremacy of the party over the legal system.

Civil rights lawyers faced an unprecedented crackdown in 2015. Beginning on July 9, within 48 hours, over 200 individuals involved in public-interest legal work were taken into custody. As of November, at least 36 remained in criminal detention, house arrest, or enforced disappearance. State media engaged in an intense smear campaign against attorneys and law firms known for taking human rights cases, while the family members of some detained lawyers were also targeted. The 16-year-old son of lawyer Wang Yu was taken into custody multiple times and barred from traveling abroad; in October he was reportedly detained in Myanmar near the Chinese border and returned to house arrest in China. Lawyers who continued to take rights cases were prevented from seeing their clients, disbarred, and beaten.

Criminal trials, which often amount to mere sentencing announcements, are frequently closed to the public, and the conviction rate is estimated at 98 percent or more. Amendments to the criminal procedure code that took effect in 2013 include the exclusion of evidence obtained through torture, access for lawyers to their clients, and the possibility of witnesses being cross-examined. Lawyers reported that access to their clients subsequently improved (except in politically sensitive cases), but other provisions have proven more difficult to implement. The trend of televised “confessions” by journalists, businessmen, and targets of corruption probes continued in 2015 and raised doubts about the protection of defendants’ rights.

Torture remains widespread in practice, either for the purpose of extracting confessions or forcing political and religious dissidents to recant their beliefs. Security agents routinely flout legal protections, and impunity is the norm for police brutality and suspicious deaths in custody. Overall, detention facilities are estimated to hold three to five million people. Conditions are generally harsh, with reports of inadequate food, regular beatings, and deprivation of medical care; the government generally does not permit visits by independent monitoring groups.

Under a 2013 reform, the decades-old network of “reeducation through labor” camps, in which individuals could be held for up to four years without a judicial hearing, has been abolished. Alternative nonjudicial detention systems were used during 2015 to hold the same categories of detainees, though often for shorter terms. Some camps were transformed into coercive drug-rehabilitation centers, and prostitutes were sent to “custody and education centers,” both of which typically involve forced labor. A growing number of activists, petitioners, microbloggers, and Falun Gong practitioners have been confined in extralegal “black jails,” “legal education centers,” or psychiatric facilities. Others faced formal prosecution, with some receiving harsher sentences than those possible under the labor-camp system.

In August, the government reduced the number of crimes carrying the death penalty from 55 to 46. Observers noted that since the most common capital crimes were not removed, the change was unlikely to significantly reduce the number of executions, which remains a state secret. An estimate by the San Francisco–based Duihua Foundation put the number at 2,400 for 2014. While still more than the combined total for the rest of the world, the figure represents a sharp decline from an estimated 12,000 in 2002. The government said it would end the previously common use of organs from executed prisoners as of January 2015, but prisoners would be allowed to make “voluntary” donations like other citizens, raising doubts as to whether any real change had occurred.

Chinese laws formally prohibit discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, or health condition, but they do not guarantee equal treatment for all segments of society in practice. Ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people, the disabled, and people with HIV/AIDS face widespread de facto discrimination, in some cases with official encouragement. This includes discrimination in access to employment and education. Separately, despite international legal protections for asylum seekers and refugees, Chinese law enforcement agencies continue to seek out and repatriate North Korean defectors, who face imprisonment or execution upon return.


G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 6 / 16

The hukou system limits the ability of China’s 800 million rural residents and migrant workers to fully access urban social services, such as education for their children. Nevertheless, the government has explored reforms to the system. In December 2015, the State Council announced that beginning in January, migrants to cities would be able to apply for special urban residency permits granting them access to some social services, based on relatively loose criteria in small cities and towns and tighter restrictions in large cities. The latter conditions include requirements on employment, residency length, and educational attainment that may be difficult for many migrants to meet.

Millions of people are affected by restrictions on foreign travel and passports, many of them Uighurs and Tibetans. Political and religious dissidents, human rights defenders, certain scholars, and their family members were also prevented from traveling abroad or to Hong Kong in 2015.

Property rights protection remains weak in practice. Urban land is owned by the state, even if the buildings that sit on it are privately owned. Rural land is collectively owned by villages. Farmers enjoy long-term lease rights to the land they farm, but are barred from selling or developing it. Low compensation standards and weak legal protections have facilitated land seizures by local officials, who often evict the residents and transfer the land rights to developers. Corruption is endemic in such projects, and local governments rely on land development as a key source of operating revenue, funds for debt repayment, and economic growth statistics that are critical to officials’ careers. Residents who resist eviction, seek legal redress, or organize protests often face violence at the hands of local police or hired thugs. Since November 2013, the government has announced several policies aimed at expanding farmers’ land rights, but the reforms had not been implemented on a large scale by the end of 2015.

The government in 2014 began instituting policies that could increase private-sector lending and strengthen market-based competition and energy pricing, though state-owned enterprises continue to dominate banking and other key industries. Repeated, aggressive state intervention to curb stock-market plunges during 2015 illustrated the ongoing role of government in the Chinese economy and the political motivations often driving such moves. Chinese citizens are legally permitted to establish and operate private businesses. However, those without official protection can find themselves at a disadvantage vis-à-vis competitors, in legal disputes, or in dealings with regulators. Foreign companies can similarly face arbitrary regulatory obstacles, demands for bribes and other inducements, or negative media campaigns.

China’s population controls require couples to obtain government permission before having children. However, in December 2015, the Law on Population and Family Planning was amended to abolish the decades-old one-child policy, allowing all Chinese couples to have two children. While the authorities would continue to regulate reproduction, the change meant that fewer families would be likely to encounter the punitive aspects of the system in practice. Meeting birth quotas has long been crucial to career advancement for local officials. Consequently, some have continued to resort to brutal practices like compulsory abortion and sterilization, though this is less common than in the past. Relatives of unsterilized mothers or couples with unapproved births are subject to high fines, job dismissal, reduced government benefits, and occasionally detention. These controls, combined with commercial ultrasound technology and societal pressures favoring boys, have led to a general shortage of females, exacerbating the problem of human trafficking. Unregistered children cannot obtain hukou status without the payment of substantial fines.

Domestic violence affects one-quarter of Chinese women, according to official figures. In December 2015, the National People’s Congress adopted the country’s first law designed to combat domestic violence. The final version included psychological in addition to physical violence, but critics noted that sexual violence was not explicitly addressed, and that the law’s application to relationships outside marriage, including same-sex couples, remained unclear. Several laws bar gender discrimination in the workplace, and gender equality has reportedly improved over the past decade, but bias remains widespread, including in job recruitment and college admissions. Women remain severely underrepresented in important CCP and government positions. In March 2015, five women’s rights activists were detained because they had planned to distribute stickers on public transportation to raise awareness of sexual harassment; they were released after five weeks in custody following an international and domestic outcry.

Workers are routinely denied social insurance and other legal benefits, while dangerous workplace conditions claim many tens of thousands of lives each year. The use of juveniles in government-sanctioned “work-study” programs continues to be a serious problem. Forced labor and trafficking is common in many industries in China, frequently affecting rural migrants, and Chinese nationals are also trafficked abroad. Although “reeducation through labor” camps have been abolished, other forms of detention continue to feature forced labor.


Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology

Explanatory Note: 

The numerical ratings and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Hong Kong or Tibet, which are examined in separate reports.

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