Thursday, 30 April 2009

Human Rights

The State Council Information Office issued a 54-page National Human Rights Action Plan (2009-10) in response to the UN’s call in 1993 for such plans. The plan contains some elaborate and even remarkably specific targets for economic and social rights. It vows to create 180 million new jobs under the plan and keep the unemployment rate below 5 per cent. But it avoids addressing the most glaring deficiencies in civil and political rights, such as administrative detention, censorship and denial of democratic representation. One area in which the plan does seem to spell out some interesting measures is torture and ill-treatment of detainees, thanks largely to the widely-reported unnatural deaths of people in police custody in recent months.

Having talked the talk, how is the Government prepared to walk the walk? Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office, put forward his best idea: the Action Plan was drawn up by a drafting team that involves many of the state organs and agencies, who, having participated in the drafting, would surely know and carry out their responsibilities. That’s reassuring.


Taiwan and the mainland signed three agreements on financial services, direct flights and fighting crime that heralded "new era" in cross-strait ties. Under these agreements, financial services firms from the two sides would be able to invest and do business in each other's territory, police would be able to exchange information on important criminal and civil cases, and the number of cross-strait flights would more than double.