Civil Society Follow-Up Report Submitted to UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – September 2017

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Joint Civil Society Report

Responding to China’s Follow-up Report to 

The Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women 


Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) in Collaboration with 

a Consortium of Chinese Civil Society Groups

September 2017

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Insufficient access to justice and legal aid, including in cases of rural women’s land rights (para. 15(a))

2.1 Ongoing deprivation of rural women’s land rights

2.2 State-affiliated arbitration committees and legal aid inadequate to defend land rights

3. Suppression of civil society groups providing legal aid and other services to women (para. 15 (a))

4. Failure to establish legal and judicial bodies to conduct independent investigations or trials without political interference (para. 15 (b))

5. Failure to effectively promote women’s participation and leadership in political and public life (para. 31 (b))

6. Violence against and interference with female independent political candidates (para. 31 (d))

6.1 Uninvestigated and unpunished incidents of violence against female independent candidates

6.2 Other forms of intimidation and interference of female independent candidates

7. Failure to promote and facilitate participation and to protect rights of ethnic and religious minority women (para. 31 (e))

7.1 Inadequate promotion and facilitation of ethnic minority women’s political participation

7.2 Violations of ethnic minority women’s rights to freedom of religion and expression

1. Introduction

In its November 2014 Concluding Observations (COBs) issued after reviewing China’s Combined Seventh and Eighth Periodic Reports, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) requested the Chinese government submit information and address the Committee’s concerns as stipulated in paragraphs 15 and 31 of the COBs.[1]The Chinese government submitted its follow-up report to the Committee on January 10, 2017.[2]

This joint civil society report is intended to respond to the government’s report and to provide information to the Committee on the issues of its concern. We have highlighted discrepancies between the government’s ongoing practices and its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In several areas, the Chinese government’s report inadequately addressed the Committee’s concerns expressed in the specific paragraphs in the COBs or did not provide substantive evidence to back up assertions. Moreover, the government has not implemented recommendations made by the Committee, including the recommendation to ensure that legal and judicial bodies operate with political independence from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). We urge the Committee to pursue issues of concern found in the assessment of China’s follow-up actions in its “List of Issues,” to be sent to the State party prior to the next review.

In some instances, human rights conditions for women in China have not improved or have worsened since the previous review, as observed in the suppression of non-governmental groups that provide services to women; the government’s refusal to fully investigate and adequately punish suspects who have attacked independent female candidates in local elections; and the ongoing suppression of religious expression by ethnic minority women. New legislation and regulations introduced or enacted by the State since the 2014 review have not noticeably increased legal protections for women, including on issues of rural women’s land rights and the provision of legal aid.

In conducting research for this report, CHRD worked with China-based independent civil society groups and local Chinese activists and lawyers. Their names have been withheld to protect them from government reprisal. We wish to acknowledge their valuable contributions and their courage in cooperating with a UN treaty body in the face of great personal risk.

2. Insufficient access to justice and legal aid, including in cases of rural women’s land rights (para. 15 (a))

2.1 Ongoing deprivation of rural women’s land rights

1. The government has failed to implement the Committee’s recommendation to ensure that women have effective access to justice, including in land rights claims. Government measures “to more effectively safeguard women’s land rights,”[3] including laws, policies, and other normative documents, continue to be deficient and remain inadequately enforced, and thus fall short of protecting the land rights of rural women. Recent reports published in China’s official media acknowledge the ongoing problem of the lack of protections for rural women’s land rights.[4] One measure noted in the government’s follow-up report—a joint Opinion[5] issued in 2015 by the government—as well as Chinese laws[6] stipulate that, once married, men and women should have equal land rights. However, local and provincial officials have only sporadically implemented these stipulations, according to recent reports[7] and interviews with lawyers and activists.[8]

2. Multiple factors have perpetuated the deprivation of rural women’s land rights, especially for women who “marry out” of their home village.[9] Such women lose any household registration (hukou) from their place of origin, and they cannot regain that legal status, or the associated protections, if they are later divorced or widowed. Also, rural women’s names still often do not appear on land use contracts due to various reasons,[10] including women’s lack of awareness of how their rights can be protected through formal contracts, patriarchal attitudes, and discriminatory practices by men that suppress legal interests.[11] In April 2017, Tan Lin, vice-president of the Secretariat of the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF), a State-sponsored “mass” organization, underscored the importance of having women’s names written on land contracts as a necessary basic component for protecting their rights.[12]

3. The government’s follow-up report mentioned “specialized training to defend the rights and interests of women with respect to land contract operations.”[13] According to media reports, however, it appears that the ACWF only carries out such training for select local officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and other departments.[14] Moreover, the training content is not readily available, and the trainings are not held in many locations. According to media reports and the State’s follow-up report, training sessions only have occurred in a few districts, counties, and cities in a pilot “model” program; hence, they are not likely to have made a significant impact. Those interviewed for this report also have seen no clear indication of the benefits of the training.[15]

4. Rural Chinese women often face curtailed land rights due to decisions by “village committees,” which are charged with resolving land disputes. These local self-governing bodies are typically male-dominated, and they tend to “issue decisions” based on traditional practices, even in violation of national law. In fact, the village committees, which contract out land owned by the State, have no judicial authority, and should only be able to “mediate” conflicts between parties, according to Chinese law.[16] In a case reported in official Chinese media, a villager, Ms. Ge, lost access to land after a divorce from a Mr. Wang in 2015, even though she and Wang had both signed an agreement granting her access. When Wang remarried, his new wife wanted access to the same land, and the parties took their dispute to the village committee. The committee, after trying unsuccessfully to settle the matter through mediation, eventually issued a “ruling” in the new wife’s favor.[17]

2.2 State-affiliated arbitration committees and legal aid inadequate to defend land rights

5. In practice, there are no effective channels for a rural Chinese woman to challenge the loss of her land rights, even if she wants to contest a village committee’s “decision.” The State follow-up report refers to a Chinese law that stipulates “rural land contract arbitration committees” are a channel to seek redress,[18] and are authorized to take up land dispute cases.[19] The report also indicates that a case can be filed directly with a court. However, activists and lawyers interviewed said that “arbitration committees” do not sufficiently protect women’s land interests, and that villagers may not even be aware of their existence. [20] Those interviewed also commented that, in general, fighting a land rights decision is futile since decision-making bodies—namely, “arbitration committees” and the courts—function within a mutually reinforcing political structure. In China’s political context, these bodies rarely have the citizens’ best interests at heart.

6. In addition, authorities and government-appointed lawyers are known to discourage women from filing lawsuits with courts. For example, in a case from 2016, a villager from Zhejiang Province who lost access to land (to which she believed she had claims) alleged that she was ridiculed by local officials when she tried to seek out a lawyer to help file a complaint. Lawyers refused to take on her case, reportedly telling her, “out of respect for traditional customs, married rural women should not enjoy any land rights,” and that such cases “are not within the scope of cases accepted by courts.”[21] Indeed, Chinese courts often turn away lawsuits filed by women against village committee rulings, and have even sent women back to the same committees for review of their cases.[22]

7. Rural women do not have access to effective legal aid to help them file lawsuits over lost land rights, even though the Chinese government has reportedly increased its spending on legal aid services[23] and raised the number of legal aid cases handled, according to State media.[24] The provision of such aid, especially in rural areas, is still grossly inadequate, and the government itself recognizes the need to better meet women’s needs for legal aid.[25] A Chinese lawyer interviewed for this report raised several critical points about the State’s system for providing legal aid. The lawyer said that the availability of legal aid is often a formality, and that merely increasing a woman’s access to aid does not necessarily improve protection of her rights. In addition, the lawyer explained how conditions both in China’s courts and with lawyers’ low compensation lead to ineffective provision of legal aid, and that justice bureaus assign most legal aid cases to lawyers who maintain “good relations” with State judiciary organs and do not challenge the legal system.[26]

8. Rural women who are unable to obtain compensation for lost land through local mechanisms often resort to “petitioning” (presenting personal grievances) to government or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organs. Although China’s complaint system is rarely effective for seeking justice, citizens continue to utilize it because of the lack of alternatives. The act of petitioning itself leaves women vulnerable to rights violations, including arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearance at the hands of State agents tasked to stop and intercept petitioners.[27]

3. Suppression of civil society groups providing legal aid and other services to women  

(para. 15 (a))

9. Counter to claims in the State’s follow-up report, Chinese authorities have not “supported non-governmental organizations or their efforts to provide legal aid services to women.”[28] Instead, as referenced in the report, the government has supported some groups through a “public interest lottery legal aid fund,” but according to measures for implementing this project, the State-affiliated ACWF selects the local Women’s Federation groups that can be involved and benefit from project funds.[29] In contrast, Chinese authorities have targeted for persecution organizations that work independently of the State, including those defending women’s rights. For example, in February 2016, authorities forced the closure of the Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling Service Center, which for over two decades had provided legal assistance to women in tens of thousands of cases. The group’s shutdown, according to China’s State media, was due to a government investigation into suspected funding from the overseas-based Ford Foundation.[30] Besides providing direct legal services to women, the Center had produced publications on litigation involving women’s rights, rural women’s political issues, and gender discrimination in the workplace.[31]

10. Since the 2014 review, the government has suppressed with greater intensity women’s rights advocates,[32] including female NGO personnel. In March 2015, authorities criminally detained five Chinese female activists who had planned to raise awareness about sexual harassment on public transportation by distributing stickers and pamphlets on March 8, International Women’s Day. The women—Li Tingting (李婷婷), Wang Man (王曼), Wei Tingting (韦婷婷), Wu Rongrong (武嵘嵘), and Zheng Churan (郑楚然)—all were associated with independent groups focusing on women’s rights and LGBT issues. After a domestic and international outcry, the women were let go in early April 2015, on “bail awaiting further investigation.” Under this status, however, criminal charges against the women were not dropped, and they continued to face formal police restrictions for a year. The case of the “Five Feminists,” as they became known, marked a new level of government intolerance for groups working on women’s rights issues; previously, State media had in fact lauded some of these very women for their advocacy work.[33] Though bail conditions were lifted on these five activists in the spring of 2016, they have continued to be subjected to police surveillance and harassment,[34] as have other women’s rights advocates.

11. While the Five Feminists were in custody in 2015, authorities raided a group with which some of the women were affiliated—the Beijing Yirenping Center, a public health and anti-discrimination NGO, whose operations have been drastically reduced. In May 2015, police forced the closure of the Weizhiming Women’s Center in Hangzhou. Weizhiming, which Wu Rongrong had founded and for which Zheng Churan had worked, had run campaigns against gender discrimination in the labor market, violence against women, and sexual harassment on public transport.[35]

12. Two new laws in China—the Charity Law (adopted March 2016) and the Overseas NGO Domestic Activities Management Law (adopted April 2016)—have placed severe limitations on the operations of Chinese NGOs, potentially including those that have provided legal aid or assistance to women. The two laws have tightened rules about raising money and seeking other forms of operational support, thus weakening or eliminating some groups’ capacity to provide legal assistance and other program services. Under the Charity Law, tighter restrictions on overseas funding of civil society groups have led to the closure of some legal aid institutions. Already under threat from authorities even before these laws went into effect, a Chinese foundation that had provided travel funding for lawyers who largely handle legal aid cases closed its doors in March 2016.[36]


4. Failure to establish legal and judicial bodies to conduct independent investigations or trials without political interference (para. 15 (b))

13. China does not have independent legal and judicial organs, and the Chinese Communist Party continues to interfere in court cases and judicial procedures. Realities on the ground contrast with government claims in the State follow-up report, that it has “bolstered the rule of law in China,” and that the government has ensured that “the power to conduct trials and inspections is exercised independently and fairly in accordance with the law.”[37] Adopted regulations and issued opinions by central authorities, as mentioned in the follow-up report,[38] do include some progressive language about reducing government interference, but they have not changed the fundamental reality that law-enforcement, procuratorial, and judicial bodies function under the control of the CCP.[39] As stated in the follow-up report, rules issued in early 2015 by the Central Politics and Law Committee state that “no official is allowed to ask judicial organs to violate their professional responsibilities or procedures for handling case as determined by the law.”[40] However, this language indicates that the rules do not explicitly forbid officials from requesting judges handle cases in certain ways. In fact, a wave of resignations of judges reportedly was tied in 2015 to complaints about State interference in their work.[41] Zhou Qiang, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme People’s Court, has even emphasized that China should “resist” building an autonomous criminal justice system; as reported in State media in January 2017, he said that courts should “firmly resist” judicial independence and other “western” ideologies that “threaten the leadership of the ruling Communist Party,” including such “western” ideas as “constitutional democracy” and “separation of powers.”[42]

14. Politics and Law Committees (PLCs), which are CCP organizations at each administrative level, interfere in legal and judicial affairs by issuing instructions to court authorities on the handling of cases.[43] PLCs function in this manner despite the government’s assertion made to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) in 2015, that the PLCs do not “directly” take part in investigations or make concrete suggestions regarding judicial decisions. The government itself noted to CAT that PLCs “coordinate the work of judicial bodies” and “lead in handling affairs according to the law,” while assuming other roles in the legal and judicial systems.[44] A CCP report titled “Ruling According to the Law,” which was issued in October 2014 after the CCP’s Fourth Plenum, affirmed the position that PLCs should ensure the “political direction” of work within the justice system.[45]

15. The fact that China’s law-enforcement, procuratorial, and judicial bodies do not function independently is clearly demonstrated in the ways in which government authorities handle “politically sensitive” cases involving HRDs, including female defenders. In such cases, the behavior of government organs aligns with a statement reportedly made in March 2014 by Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee Political and Legal Affairs Commission, who said that the CCP has final control over outcomes in “politically sensitive” cases.[46]

16. State interference in the judiciary and violations of the presumption of innocence principle are evident in cases of women HRDs detained in July 2015 in the widespread crackdown on China’s human rights lawyers.[47] In one case, Wang Yu (王宇),[48] a female human rights lawyer, was subjected to a State media smear campaign, which made her appear guilty of crimes and effectively tried her in the court of public opinion. On July 19, 2015, just days after Wang was taken into custody, an official Xinhua news report labelled Wang a “criminal” and accused her employer, the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, of being a “criminal syndicate” serving as a platform for masterminding illegal activities to “incite social disorder” and “gain profits.”[49] After Wang was held incommunicado for a year, authorities released her on bail in July 2016. Soon after, a Hong Kong newspaper (apparently with State permission to speak to Wang) published an interview in which she denounced her lawyerly work and gave a so-called “confession,” which was widely believed to have been coerced. After being released on bail in July 2016, Wang lived under strict police control with her family in Inner Mongolia. In July 2017, police officially lifted her bail conditions but she and her family are still living under tight surveillance.

17. The case of Zhao Wei (赵威),[50] a legal assistant to detained human rights lawyer Li Heping (李和平),[51] also was marked by political interference and a coerced confession, and highlighted the non-independence of law-enforcement organs. Zhao’s lawyer has maintained that China’s Ministry of Public Security directed the investigation in her case, even though the Hexi District Public Security Bureau in Tianjin Municipality said that their officers were handling it. The lawyer has also said that Tianjin authorities unconditionally followed the orders of CCP-controlled organs in detaining Zhao and obstructing her access to legal counsel.[52] On July 7, 2016, authorities announced that Zhao had “admitted” to criminal activity and was released on “bail pending further investigation.” Soon after, a “confession” by Zhao and an expression of “regret” for her activism appeared on her social media accounts; however, it was believed that Zhao, if she had indeed posted these thoughts, had done so only under police pressure.[53] On May 1, 2017, a published statement attributed to Zhao described abuse that she had suffered in detention, including coercion from authorities that led to her “confession.”[54]

18. The CCP and local officials regularly interfere in judicial actions involving the suppression of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual practice. The main purpose of the government organ known as the “610 Office,” an extrajudicial body linked to the Central Politics and Law Committee, is to handle cases involving Falun Gong practitioners.[55] Chinese lawyers who have defended these practitioners have reported that local “610 Offices” “control and manipulate [sensitive cases] from behind the scenes,” and even decide verdicts.[56] In recent years, “610 Offices,” by exerting pressure on courts, have reportedly played a role in the decisions to detain and prosecute female Falun Gong practitioners who are now serving lengthy prison sentences, including Zou Wenyu (邹稳玉) of Hunan Province, who was sentenced to three years in prison on August 17, 2016,[57] and Gong Baomei (宫宝美) of Anhui Province, given seven years on May 18, 2015.[58]


5. Failure to effectively promote women’s participation and leadership in political and public life (para. 31 (b))

19. China has largely failed to “accelerate women’s full and equal participation in elected and appointed bodies,” and thus has not implemented the Committee’s recommendation. Although the State said in its follow-up report that it has “actively implemented quotas and other temporary special measures in order to promote women’s participation in politics,”[59] the government has not promoted women’s participation as decision-makers in government agencies or the CCP. The government follow-up report stated that, in 2015, 51.9 percent of the people working for central (and directly affiliated) government agencies were women, but it did not indicate if these women were in decision-making roles.

20. Women remain underrepresented, especially at the highest levels of CCP and government leadership, as China has consistently failed to meet the 30 percent goal for women’s participation in government and political agencies, which was set by States in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and reiterated in China’s 2011-2020 Women’s Development Program.[60] As of August 2017, there are only two female heads of the 25 ministry-level agencies[61] and no women provincial-level CCP secretaries. There has never been a woman on the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee (the smallest and highest-level Party body). The current politburo (the second-highest body) currently has two women, selected in 2012. The percentage of females on the 18th Central Committee (the third-highest body, and including full and alternate members) stands at 8.8 percent, a decrease from the previous Central Committee (10 percent).[62]

21. Since the previous CEDAW review, Chinese authorities have failed to amend laws to promote increased participation by women in legislative bodies at both national and local levels. In 2015, authorities revised China’s Election Law, which regulates people’s congress elections, but legislators did not change the wording of relevant stipulations. Language related to female representation was amended in 2004 and remained the same in the 2015 version; the language lacks specific measurable targets for women deputies. Instead, it only stipulates that “[a]mong the deputies to the National People’s Congress and local people’s congresses at various levels, there shall be an appropriate number of women deputies, and the proportion thereof shall be raised gradually.”[63]

22. Women are underrepresented in China’s national-level legislative and advisory bodies. The percentage of women in the National People’s Congress (NPC) has hovered around 21 percent since the late 1970s, according to Chinese government data.[64] Currently, in the 12th NPC (2013-2018), women delegates hold 23.4 percent of the seats and 15.5 percent of the NPC Standing Committee positions. The percentage of women in the advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), is even lower; women hold just 17.8 percent of the total seats, and only 11.8 percent of the CPPCC Standing Committee positions.[65] Moreover, the 12th NPC’s “decision” on representation for the next NPC[66] merely states the “proportion of women representatives” in the next NPC (2018-2023) “will be higher than in the previous National People’s Congress.”[67]

23. At the local level, female representation on village committees has been far below that of males, and official goals are set low and are still not met. China’s Organic Law on Villagers Committees stipulates that these committees “should” have women members, and that women “should” make up at least one-third of the total number of committee representatives.[68] The percentage of women in village committees falls short of these targets, and has not changed substantially since the early 1990s. According to government data, in 2014, the national average percentage of women on village committees was 22.8 percent, an increase of just 1.8 percent from 1993.[69] One CPPCC delegate noted that, in some provinces, women’s representation on village committees had not reached 20 percent. Grassroots reports from within China note that, in violation of the standards prescribed in law and policies, some village committees have no women representatives at all.[70] In China’s most recent Human Rights Action Plan, issued in 2016, the government had pledged that, by 2020, women members “should” make up 10 percent or more of village committee chairpersons and 30 percent or more of the total number of committee members.[71]

24. In addition, the pervasive practice of women taking on local political roles that are stereotypically gender-specific remains problematic. For instance, a CPPCC delegate noted that women on village committees mostly focus on issues related to family planning.[72] Women have also tended to have large representation on urban resident committees with little political influence, which is believed to be the main reason women have traditionally dominated them.[73] In 2014, women occupied 48.9 percent of positions in these committees.[74] However, the duties of these committees, such as mediating family disputes and delivering government information, are not considered politically significant, and committee members have tended to be older women.[75]


6. Violence against and interference with female independent political candidates (para. 31 (d))

6.1 Lack of investigation or accountability for violence against female independent candidates

25. China has failed to “thoroughly investigate allegations of violence and abuse against women who stand for election as independent candidates and ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted and adequately punished,” and thus has not implemented the Committee’s recommendation. The government’s follow-up report did not even address this concern. Since 2014, the government has not held suspected government personnel or hired thugs criminally accountable for alleged violence and abuse against independent (non-CCP) female candidates, even when investigations have reportedly taken place. In addition, women whose cases were previously reported to the Committee continue to face persecution.[76] The persistent lack of government accountability can be observed in the following cases.

26. On November 1, 2016, Wang Yicui (王义翠), of Neijiang City in Sichuan Province, was beaten and verbally abused by local government officials, after she tried to register to run for a seat in her local People’s Congress. Officials physically blocked Ms. Wang from registering and then beat her when she began to photograph them. Wang was accused of “obstructing elections” and had to be hospitalized to recover from soft-tissue injuries that she sustained in the assault.[77] After she left the hospital, Wang petitioned over her mistreatment in front of the Neijiang City government building, but police dragged her away, and no known investigation into her complaint has taken place.[78]

27. On November 9, 2016, Li Meiqing (李美青) of Fengtai District, Beijing Municipality, was beaten by individuals (believed to be thugs hired by the local village committee) after she had campaigned as an independent candidate. Ms. Li sustained several injuries in the attack. On April 1, 2017, reportedly the same group of individuals beat Li again, resulting in large welts on her forehead.[79] In May 2017, two suspects from that incident received 15-day administrative detentions—light punishments considering the severity of the attack and Li’s injuries—but the main instigator was neither taken into custody nor held accountable in any way.[80]

28. Of three cases of violence against female NPC candidates previously reported to the Committee, two are not known to have been investigated, and suspected perpetrators in a third case were not punished. (Victims or their families or lawyers filed complaints with police in all three cases.) Authorities did not provide any response to complaints in the cases of activists Liu Ping (刘萍)[81] and Li Biyun (李碧云),[82] who both continue to face State persecution at the time of this submission. Liu Ping, from Xinyu City, Jiangxi Province, is serving a 6.5-year prison sentence since being convicted of three crimes on June 19, 2014. She has been deprived of medical treatment in prison, a form of torture reported in many cases of incarcerated human rights defenders in China.[83] Li Biyun, though she has not been in police custody since December 2014, has also been subjected to ongoing abuses since that time, including house arrest, police intimidation, and physical assaults.[84] Authorities did investigate a third case—a vicious attack against independent candidate Ms. Gan Xingyan (干兴艳) by security guards in Sichuan Province in February 2012—but alleged suspects in her assault did not receive any punishment.[85]

6.2 Other forms of intimidation and interference of female independent candidates

29. In addition to the above cases involving violence, authorities have intimidated independent female candidates with the purpose of interfering with their campaigns and to prevent them from running for election. In reported cases during local People’s Congress elections held in China in 2016-17, plainclothes police and hired thugs blocked female candidates from leaving their homes to take part in campaign events, to gather with other fellow candidates, or to give interviews to journalists. Women subjected to such intimidation and interference include: Ye Jinghuan (野靖环),[86] Yang Lingyun (杨凌云),[87] Fan Sujun (范素君),[88] Liu Huizhen (刘惠珍),[89] all residents of Beijing; Wu Lijuan (伍立娟)[90] of Hubei Province; and Jiang Chengfen (姜成芬)[91] of Sichuan Province.


7. Failure to promote and facilitate political participation and to protect rights of ethnic and religious minority women (para. 31 (e))

7.1 Inadequate promotion and facilitation of ethnic minority women’s political participation

30. The Chinese government has not “safeguarded the rights of ethnic minority women to participate in and manage State and social affairs,”[92] as it claims in its follow-up report. The government has failed to promote and facilitate the political participation of ethnic and religious minority women, and has thus not implemented the Committee’s recommendation. For example, authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have interfered with village and People’s Congress elections on both political and religious grounds. In 2014, CCP authorities in Ngari Prefecture drew up strict rules for eligibility for individuals to become village committee candidates. The provisions specified that candidates must be “politically trustworthy” (i.e., be CCP members) and excluded individuals who had attended religious gatherings abroad that were organized by the Dalai Lama, or those who had “overseas connections” or even “communicated overseas.”[93] Such restrictions undermine Tibetan women’s opportunities for political participation. Moreover, Tibetan women face barriers to even becoming CCP cadres; according to an ethnic Tibetan activist interviewed, some villages with a high concentration of Tibetans do not have even one Tibetan woman serving as a Party cadre.[94]

31. Ethnic minority women are vastly underrepresented on the highest levels of CCP and government leadership in China’s five autonomous regions, even though these areas have large percentages of minorities in their populations. On the regional level, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region do not have a single ethnic minority female serving as a CCP chairperson or vice chairperson, nor as a government secretary or vice secretary. The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has two ethnic Mongolian females in the regional government (of nine total chairs and vice chairs) and one ethnic Mongolian female on its CCP Standing Committee (of 13 positions). The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regional Government has one ethnic Hui chairwomen (of eight total chairs and vice chairs) and one ethnic Hui female vice secretary on its CCP Standing Committee (of 12 positions). The TAR Government has one ethnic Tibetan female among its 14 total chairs and vice chairs.[95]

32. In its follow-up report, the government did not provide information that allows for assessment of purported efforts to increase ethnic minority women’s political participation. Specifically, the lack of data and transparency, including about the results of local elections in China, makes it difficult to measure minority women’s political participation.[96] While ethnic minority women are known to have been elected as local People’s Congress representatives, activists who conducted research for this submission found that the government does not publicly release election results disaggregated by both candidates’ ethnicity and gender. According to one activist, academic studies in China focusing on local elections also do not include disaggregated data because of government opacity. Other activists interviewed believe that the apparent absence of public information may partly be due to the “political sensitivity” of ethnic minority areas, and said that even searching for such data can present personal risks.[97]

7.2 Violations of religious and expression rights of ethnic minority women

33. Contrary to the State’s claim in the follow-up report, “that the Government has protected freedom of religion or belief for ethnic minority women,”[98] government authorities have continued to deprive such women the free exercise of these rights, especially Tibetans in the TAR (and other parts of western China) and Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. On both regional and national levels, authorities have enacted laws and regulations that target religious freedoms on ethnic grounds.[99]

34. As part of the government’s “anti-terror” propaganda campaign against “Islamic extremism” in the XUAR, officials across the region have standardized and expanded regulations on youth and children’s participation in religious life, after rules had been previously enforced only in certain locations. Regulations enacted in November 2016 allow Xinjiang police to jail people for “encouraging” or “forcing” youth to take part in religious activities.[100] These rules supplement regulations put in place in specific prefectures in Xinjiang in October 2014, which already had restricted young Muslims’ religious practices and prescribed detention for adults who brought Islamic religious materials home for their children.[101] In addition, China’s Counter-Terrorism Law (adopted December 2015)[102] can potentially criminalize peaceful activities of Uyghurs and Tibetans by allowing criminal prosecution of these ethnic minorities on charges related to “terrorism.”[103]

35. Muslim women in China, particularly in the XUAR, are subject to legal restrictions on their religious practice and customs. Regulations that went into effect in Xinjiang on April 1, 2017, prohibit the “wearing or forcing others to wear full-face coverings.”[104] In Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital city, officials had implemented a similar directive in 2015 to ban full-face and full-body coverings in all public places.[105]In March 2015, a Xinjiang court sentenced a woman in Kashgar City to two years in prison for wearing a face-covering veil.[106]  International media reported in September 2017 that a Uyghur woman, Horigul Nasir, had received a 10-year prison sentence in Xinjiang, a punishment apparently related to a claim that she was encouraging fellow Muslim women to wear headscarves.[107]

36. In addition, Muslim women face restricted freedom of movement both inside and outside China. Even though the State’s report asserts the government “has safeguarded the right of Muslim women to participate equally in pilgrimage activities,”[108] their freedom of movement for such trips is still limited, partly because Chinese government officials both organize and monitor the pilgrimages.[109] Since 2015, the Chinese government also has reportedly pressured governments of other countries, such as Thailand and Egypt, into forcibly deporting hundreds of Uyghurs to China. Many of these Uyghurs, who include women and children, had gone abroad to evade religious and ethnic persecution.[110]

37. As the Chinese government has increased its suppression of free expression, including via online communications[111],disseminating information about Islam via cyberspace can be grounds for criminal suspicion. In one case, a Uyghur Muslim woman was detained in May 2017, for allegedly “sharing extreme religious ideology,” after she posted text and imagery on social media praising Allah.[112]

38. In recent years, authorities have intensified CCP control over religious and political institutions in the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Government policies have mandated that CCP authorities oversee and make decisions on the operations and administration of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, further impinging upon the rights of Tibetans to freedom of religion and association.[113]  The government has transferred tens of thousands of CCP cadres to villages, nunneries, and monasteries in the region. [114] CCP and government officials have removed some ethnic Tibetans from management committees in nunneries and monasteries, replacing them with government and CCP appointees, and demanded that nuns and monks “demonstrate their support” for the CCP.[115]Since the summer of 2016, nuns have been among large numbers of religious students and staff whom CCP authorities have expelled from Tibetan Buddhist academies and ordered to participate in “patriotic re-education.”[116]

39. Chinese authorities have continued to detain and imprison Tibetan nuns and laywomen, with the majority persecuted in violation of their rights to freedom of religion and expression. According to data collected by an NGO that focuses on human rights of ethnic Tibetans, at least 232 female Tibetans, including 133 nuns, were in detention centers or prisons in China, as of August 15, 2017. Most have been charged with offenses that reflect the State’s political and religious persecution of Tibetans, including crimes related to “endangering state security,” “leaking state secrets,” and “intentional injury,” a charge tied to self-immolations done by Tibetans in protest against Chinese government policies.[117]  The government also criminalizes Tibetans’ mere possession of the Dalai Lama’s teachings or images, or for praying for his long life.[118] In an example of how such acts are punished, two laywomen were among nine Tibetans given long prison sentences on December 6, 2016, reportedly in connection with a picnic held in July 2015 to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. The women, Bhonkho Kyi and Tarey Kyi, were sentenced to seven and eight years, respectively, convicted of “inciting separatism,” after they had been held incommunicado for months.[119]


[1]  Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Concluding observations on the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of China, November 14, 2014, CEDAW/C/CHN/CO/7-8,

[2] Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, CEDAW/C/CHN/CO/7-8/Add.1,

[3] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 3.

[4] See, for example: China Women’s News, “Safeguarding Rural Women’s Land Rights and Interests Need New Countermeasures” (保障农村妇女土地权益需要新对策), January 19, 2017,; and “Farm Lectures: How to Handle Five Changes in Rural Land? The Relationship Between Hukou and Verification of Rural Land Rights,” (农广讲堂:五种变动农村土地怎样处理?户口与农村土地确权的关系), April 25, 2017,

[5]  A provision in the Opinion states that a land management contract “should reflect the principle of equality between men and women, and effectively protect women’s land contract rights.” Article 4 (5), “Opinion on Conscientiously Carrying Out the Work of Verifying, Registering, and Certifying Rural Land Contracting and Management Rights” (关于认真做好农村土地承包经营权确权登记颁证工作的意见), January 2015, Ministry of Agriculture, Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Land and Resources, and State Council Legislative Affairs Office of State Archives of the People’s Republic of China,

[6] Laws stipulating that men and women, once married, should enjoy equality in land contracting include the “Law on Land Contract in Rural Areas” and “Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women.” Article 6, Law on Land Contract in Rural Areas of the People’s Republic of China (2002),; Article 33, Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women of the People’s Republic of China (amended 2005),; CHRD & a Coalition of NGOs, Report Submitted to UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – September 2014, para. 44,

[7] Zhang Yinggong: Thoughts and Recommendations for Protecting Rural Women’s Land Rights, (张英洪:维护农村妇女土地权益的思考与建议), September 13, 2016,; Xi’an Women Net, “Investigation on the Protection of Rural Women’s Land Contract Rights” (农村妇女土地承包权益保障情况调), December 19, 2015,

[8]  CHRD interviews, April-May 2017.

[9] By custom and practice, a “married out” woman typically loses access to land contracted to the family that she leaves and she does not gain access to land allocated to her husband’s family. In a 2014 survey of “married out” village women conducted by an NGO, a majority interviewed had been denied all entitlements and benefits tied to land access, and many divorced and widowed women said that they returned to their native village only to find their land had been appropriated by their family or re-allocated by the government. The deprived “entitlements and benefits” include the allocation of contracted land and homestead land; land compensation and/or resettlement housing (in cases of land appropriation); and land dividends (i.e., collective farming gains). CHRD & a Coalition of NGOs, Report Submitted to UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – September 2014, paras. 43-47; “Land Issues Concerning Rural Women” (农村妇女土地问题), Appendix 3, CHRD and Coalition of NGOs Report Submitted to CEDAW – October 2014,

[10] Xi’an Women Net, “Investigation on the Protection of Rural Women’s Land Contract Rights” (农村妇女土地承包权益保障情况调), December 19, 2015,

[11] Women of China, “ACWF VP Calls for More Land Rights Protection on Tour of China,” May 3, 2017,; World Bank and the National Forest Economic and Development Research Center of the State Forestry Administration of China, “People’s Republic of China Gender-Dimensions of Collective Forest Tenure Reform in China,” May 2016,

[12] Women of China, “ACWF VP Calls for More Land Rights Protection on Tour of China,” May 3, 2017.

[13] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 3.

[14]  “Provincial Women’s Federation Holding Training Session in Our City on Protecting Rural Women’s Land Rights” (省妇联在我市举办农村妇女土地维权培训班), City Information Center, September 2, 2016,; “National County-level Model Training Session on Protecting Rural Women’s Land Rights Held in Kunming” (全国保障农村妇女土地权益县级示范培训班在昆明举办), China Women’s Federation Research Net, June 30, 2015,; “Provincial Women’s Federation Holds Province-Wide Training on Protecting Rural Women’s Rights in Process of Verifying Registration Records of Land Lease Operations in Qiqihar” (省妇联在齐举办全省农村土地承包经营权确权登记颁证中维护农村妇女土地权益培训班), Qiqihar City Women’s Net, September 2, 2016, The provincial women’s federation in Heilongjiang Province, where Qiqihar is located, reportedly conducted training sessions in six cities and counties.

[15] CHRD interviews, April-May 2017.

[16] Farmers’ Daily, “Grassroots Organizations to Mediate Disputes Over the Legal Bottom Line” (基层组织调处纠纷莫逾法律底线), May 5, 2017,

[17] Based on the prior agreement between Ms. Ge and Mr. Wang, she and the couple’s son could jointly manage two plots of family land, which were originally under Wang’s name. Ms. Ge refused to accept the decision whereby she lost access to her ex-husband’s land. She filed a complaint with the local government to retain her contracted land rights, but to no avail. Farmers’ Daily, “Grassroots organizations to mediate disputes over the legal bottom line” (基层组织调处纠纷莫逾法律底线), May 5, 2017.

[18] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 3.

[19] Article 51, Law on Land Contract in Rural Areas of the People’s Republic of China (2002),

[20] CHRD interviews, April 2017.

[21]  CHRD interview, April 2017. According to the woman, who is from Dongyang City, the lawyers additionally stated that villagers cannot sue the local government over such matters, and that government officials also will not discuss them.

[22]  See, for example: Caijin, “Hebei Rural Married Woman Petitions for 8 Years for Land Rights, Carries Mask in Bag to Avoid Being Intercepted [by Police]” (河北农嫁女为求土地权益上访8年 包里常备口罩防截访), April 22, 2014,

[23] See, for example: Legal Daily, “Legal Aid Funding” (法律援助经费), September 16, 2015,; Legal Daily, “Sum of Nationwide Legal Aid Funding Over Past 5 Years Reached 7.04 Billion Yuan” (五年全国法律援助经费总额达到70.4亿元), September 17, 2015,

[24]  Legal Daily, “Over 4,990,000 Legal Aid Cases Handled in Past 5 Years Nationwide” (5年全国办理法律援助案件499万余件), September 17, 2015,

[25] The need to expand legal aid to women is stated in a 2015 opinion issued by central authorities that is cited in the follow-up report: “Opinion on Improving the Legal Aid System” (关于完善法律援助制度的意见), June 2015, General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council of the People’s Republic of China,

[26]  CHRD interview, April 2017.

[27] See, for example: Rights Defense Network (RDN), “Yuwu, Zhejiang ‘Married Out’ Women He Zhuqing, Ji Laijuan Petition in Beijing” (浙江义乌农嫁女何竹青、季来娟进京上访被失踪) March 21, 2014,

[28]  CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 4.

[29]  Jiamusi Women’s Net, “‘All-China Women’s Federation Legal Aid Action’ Project Administrative Measures (Provisional)” (“中国妇女法律援助行动”项目管理办法(暂行) ) March 7, 2014,

[30] CHRD, “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime”: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016), pg. 21,

[31] RDN, “Announcement of Authorities’ Forced Closure of Chinese Women’s Rights NGO ‘Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling Service Center’” (中国女权NGO“众泽妇女法律咨询服务中心”遭当局强迫宣告解散), January 29, 2016,

[32] CHRD, “UN Women: Press China to Protect, Not Persecute, Women Rights Defenders,” September 16, 2015,; CHRD, “Help Free Chinese Women HRDs on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016,

[33] CHRD, “Too Risky to Call Ourselves Defenders”: CHRD Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2015),” pg. 10, February 2016,

[34] CHRD interview, June 2017. BBC, “China’s Feminist Movement: How Far Can They Go?” (中国女权运动: 她们还能走多远?), September 26, 2017,

[35] The New York Times, “China Raids Offices of Rights Group as Crackdown on Activism Continues,” March 26, 2015,

[36]  See, for example: Radio Free Asia (RFA), “First non-governmental legal fund announces cessation of operations after passage of China’s ‘Charity Law,’” (中国《慈善法》通过后首个民间法律基金宣布停止运行), March 18, 2016,

[37] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 6.

[38]  CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, paras. 6-7. The measures noted in the follow-up report include: Central Politics and Law Committee of the People’s Republic of China; “Regulations on Recording and Accountability of Judicial Organ Personnel Investigating Cases” (司法机关内部人员过问案件的记录和责任追究规定), 2015,; Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China, “Regarding the Opinion on Deepening Reform of the People’s Courts” (People’s Court’s Fourth Five-Year Reform Program, 2014-2018) (关于全面深化人民法院改革的意见——人民法院第四个五年改革纲要(2014-2018), 2015,; Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China, “Regulations on the Recording, Notification, and Accountability of Leading Cadres Intervention in Judicial Activities and Specific Case Handling” (领导干部干预司法活动、插手具体案件处理的记录、通报和责任追究规定), 2015,; Supreme People’s Procuratorate of the People’s Republic of China, “Regarding the Opinion on Deepening Reform of Procuratorates” (2013-2017 Work Plan), (关于深化检察改革的意见, 2013-2017年工作规划), 2015,; Supreme People’s Procuratorate of the People’s Republic of China, “Several Provisions on Strengthening Internal Supervision Over Law Enforcement and Case Handling Activities and Preventing Such Interference” (关于加强执法办案活动内部监督防止说情等干扰的若干规定), 2014,

[39] CHRD & a Coalition of Chinese NGOs, Joint Civil Society Report Submitted to UN Committee against Torture – October 2015, paras. 41-48,

[40] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 7.

[41] The Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Report (blog), “China’s Exodus of Judges,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2015,; Southern Weekend, “Shortage of Judges, Court Panic: Things Are Changing” (法官慌,法官慌:事情正在起变化), April 17, 2015,; Consensus Net, “Judicial Reforms Are Coming, Why Do Judges Still Want to Resign?” (司法改革来了,法官为何还要辞职), April 16, 2015;

[42]  This statement echoed a June 2014 editorial published in the Global Times, a CCP media mouthpiece, which said that the goal of improving “judicial justice” in reforms does not mean that China is moving toward judicial independence or separation of political powers. Reuters, “China’s top judge warns courts on judicial independence,” January 15, 2017,; Global Times, “Judicial Reform Will Not Fall Into Liberals’ Semantic Trap” (社评:司法改革不会掉入自由派的语境), June 17, 2014,

[43]  CHRD & a Coalition of Chinese NGOs, Joint Civil Society Report Submitted to UN Committee against Torture – October 2015, para. 46.

[44] Response by the Government to the Committee against Torture’s List of issues, 2015, para. 28 (1),

[45] Xinhua, “CCP Central Committee Decision concerning Some Major Questions in Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the law Forward,” October 30, 2014,

[46] Reuters, “With legal reforms, China wants less interfering in cases, fewer death penalty crimes,” March 9, 2014,; The Diplomat, “China’s Legal Reform: A Balancing Act,” March 12, 2014,; Reuters, “China unveils legal reform plans, but says party to remain in control,” October 28, 2014,

[47] For information on the crackdown, see: CHRD, Individuals Affected by July 9 Crackdown on Rights Lawyers,

[48] CHRD, Prisoner of Conscience – Wang Yu (王宇),

[49] People’s Daily, “Tracking Case of Beijing Fengrui Law Firm: Director Zhou Shifeng Confesses” (北京锋锐律所案追踪:律所主任周世锋认罪忏悔), July 19, 2015,

[50] CHRD, Prisoner of Conscience – Zhao Wei (赵威),

[51] Lawyer Li Heping (李和平) was detained for over 21 months before being tried for “subversion of state power” on April 25, 2017, and subsequently revealed that he was subjected to various forms of torture while in police custody. Li was issued a prison sentence of three years, suspended for four years. CHRD, Prisoner of Conscience – Li Heping (李和平),

[52] CHRD interview, April 2017.

[53] South China Morning Post, “Young Chinese legal activist ‘regrets’ civil rights activism,” July 11, 2016,

[54] RFA, “After release on bail, Zhao Wei admits for the first time that she was coerced into confessing as a compromise, and feels frightened over her future” (赵威取保后首次自白 承认被逼妥协对未来感恐惧), May 1, 2017,

[55] CHRD interviews, March 2017. Human Rights Watch, “Dangerous Meditation: China’s Campaign Against Falungong” (2002),

[56] CHRD interviews, March 2017.

[57] Zou Wenyu (邹稳玉), a retired teacher from Pingjiang County, Hunan Province, was detained by national security officers on June 19, 2015, after speaking about Falun Gong. Already disabled from abuse she suffered in a re-education through labor camp, Zou’s health worsened at Yunxi District Detention Center in Yueyang City, to the point where she was no longer able to care for herself. Authorities rejected her family’s requests to release Zou on medical bail, and a court, influenced by the local 610 Office, sentenced Zou to prison. RDN, “Rights Defense Network: Monthly Report on Incarcerated Political Criminals and Prisoners of Conscience in Mainland China” (维权网:中国大陆已判在押政治犯、良心犯月度报告), April 30, 2017,

[58] Gong Baomei (宫宝美), from Bengbu City in Anhui Province, was taken into custody on October 10, 2014, by personnel from a local 610 Office and national security officers, who also raided her home and confiscated many of Gong’s possessions. On May 18, 2015, Ms. Gong was sentenced to prison by the Linbi County People’s Court. RDN, “Rights Defense Network: Monthly Report on Incarcerated Political Criminals and Prisoners of Conscience in Mainland China” (维权网:中国大陆已判在押政治犯、良心犯月度报告), March 31, 2017,

[59] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, item 3, para. 8.

[60] United Nations Economic and Social Council, “United Nations Targets for Proportion of Women in Leadership and Decision-Making Positions” (Information Paper),; China’s National Program for Women’s Development (2011-2020),; National Bureau of Statistics, “2014 Statistical Report on the Implementation of ‘China’s National Program for Women’s Development (2011-2020)’” (2014年《中国妇女发展纲要 (2011-2020年)》实施情况统计报告), November 27, 2015, Chap. 4 Sec. 4,

[61] Ms. Li Bin (李斌) has been Director of the Health and Family Planning Commission since 2013, the year the body was created, and Ms. Hu Zejun (胡泽君), who took office in April 2017, is Auditor General of the Audit Commission. See: Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国中央人民政府),

[62] Brookings, “Status of China’s women leaders on the eve of 19th Party Congress,” March 30, 2017,

[63] Election Law of the National People’s Congress and Local People’s Congresses at All Levels of the People’s Republic of China (授权发布:中华人民共和国全国人民代表大会和地方各级人民代表大会选举法), (1979, amended 2015),

[64] National Bureau of Statistics, “Number of Deputies to All the Previous National People’s Congresses,” China Statistical Yearbook 2014, Table 24–1,

[65] National Bureau of Statistics, “2014 Statistical Report on the Implementation of the ‘China Women’s Development Plan 2011-2020” (2014年《中国妇女发展纲要(2011-2020年)》实施情况统计报告).

[66] Since the 7th National People’s Congress, each NPC’s last session has passed a decision prescribing various requirements for electing delegates to the next NPC. NPC Observer, “More Women, Fewer Cadres: A Preview of Next NPC’s Composition,” March 16, 2017,

[67] “Decision of the 5th Session of the 12th National People’s Congress on the Representation and Election of the 13th National People’s Congress” (第十二届全国人民代表大会第五次会议关于第十三届全国人民代表大会代表名额和选举问题的决定), March 15, 2017,

[68] Articles 15, Organic Law on Villagers Committees of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国村民委员会组织法), 2010 (amended), Article 9 in the Organic Law, promulgated in 1998, only set out that the committees “shall include an appropriate number of women” (see:

[69] National Bureau of Statistics, “2014 Statistical Report on The Implementation of the ‘China Women’s Development Plan 2011-2020’” (2014年《中国妇女发展纲要 (2011-2020年)》实施情况统计报告), November 27, 2015, Chap. 4 Sec. 4; People’s CPPCC Net, “Village Committee End of Term Elections Should Raise the Percentage of Women,” (村委会换届选举应提高女性比例), March 3, 2014,

[70] RDN, “China Election Monitor (2015), No. 4, Discrimination Against Women in Government-Led Village Election in Anxin County, Baoding City, Hebei” (中国选举观察(2015)之四——河北保定安新县政府指导的村官选举歧视妇女(图)(之二)), April 6, 2015,; RDN, “China Election Monitor (2014), No. 63, Discrimination Against Women in Government-Led Election in Quanzhou County, Guilin City, Guangxi” (中国选举观察(2014)之六十三——广西桂林全州县政府指导的村官选举欺视妇女), February 15, 2015,; RDN, “China Election Monitor (2014) No. 60, Discrimination Against Women in Government-Led Village Official Election in Ye County, Henan” (中国选举观察(2014)之六十——河南省叶县政府指导的村官选举欺视妇女), January 25, 2015,

[71] Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, National Human Rights Action Plan (2016-2020), Item 3(2), September 29, 2016,

[72] People’s CPPCC Net, “Village Committee End of Term Elections Should Raise the Percentage of Women” (村委会换届选举应提高女性比例), March 3, 2014,

[73] “Urban resident committees” were formerly called “neighborhood committees.” Asian Development Bank, “Country Gender Assessment: People’s Republic of China,” December 2006, pg. 54,

[74] National Bureau of Statistics, “2014 Statistical Report on The Implementation of the ‘China Women’s Development Plan 2011-2020” (2014年《中国妇女发展纲要(2011-2020年)》实施情况统计报告), November 27, 2015, Chap. 4 Sec. 4.

[75] Asian Development Bank, “Country Gender Assessment: People’s Republic of China,” December 2006, pg. 54.

[76] CHRD & a Coalition of NGOs, Report Submitted to UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – September 2014, para. 26.

[77] RFA, “Woman Beaten in China’s Sichuan After Trying To Run in Local Election,” November 2, 2016,

[78] RFA, “Sichuan Independent Candidate Wang Yicui Detained, Candidate Information Activities Again Blocked in Beijing” (独立参选人王义翠被拘 北京再有竞选人宣传活动受阻), November 9, 2016,

[79] RDN, “Beijing People’s Congress (58 People) Independent Candidates: Strongly Protest the Beating by Thugs of Beijing Independent Candidate Li Meiqing” (北京人大代表(58人)独立候选人:强烈抗议黑社会成员殴打北京独立候选人李美青), November 10, 2016,; RFA, “Rights Defenders Li Meiqing Severely Beaten, Li Huanjun Pledges to Again Block Xi Jinping Motorcade” (维权人士李美青被殴打 李焕君誓言再拦习近平车队), April 3, 2017,

[80] CHRD interview, July 2017.

[81] CHRD, Prisoner of Conscience – Liu Ping,

[82] CHRD, Li Biyun (李碧云): Submission to UN – February 13, 2015,; RDN, “Guangdong Independent Candidate, Human Rights Defender Li Biyun Attacked and Injured, Police Do Not Respond to Report, Block Her From Going to Hospital for Exam and Treatment” (广东独立候选人、人权捍卫者李碧云遇袭受伤,报案警方不给回执,并被阻止去医院检查治疗) , August 26, 2015,

[83] CHRD, Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention,

[84] RFA, “As a Woman, I Wanted to Stand Up And Run For District People’s Congress,” March 17, 2017,

[85] CHRD, China Human Rights Briefing February 7-13, 2012, February 15, 2012,; 64 Tianwang, “NPC Director Approves Chengdu [Authorities’] Handling of Beating Case of Independent Candidate” (人大主任批复 成都处理独立候选人被打案), April 1, 2012,; Jiang Jing Blog, “Criminal Charges” (刑事控告书), July 11, 2013,

[86] On October 14, 2016, Beijing police blocked Nippon Television journalists from seeing Ye Jinghuan of Xicheng District after she and 17 others issued an open letter that same day declaring their intention to run in elections. RDN, “China Elections Monitor (2016), No. 21: Japanese TV (NTV) Blocked From Meeting Beijing Independent Candidate Ye Jinghuan” (中国选举观察 (2016) 之二十一:日本电视 (NTV) 采访北京独立候选人野靖环受阻); RDN, “China Elections Monitor (2016) No. 21: 18 Independent Candidates in Beijing Issue Joint Declaration of Their Intent to Participate in Elections” (中国选举观察 (2016) 之二十一:北京18位独立候选人联名发出参选宣言), October 14, 2016,

[87] On October 24, 2016, Beijing police blocked candidates, including Ye Jinghuan (note 82) and 11 other women, from gathering at the Dongcheng District home of another prospective female candidate, Yang Lingyun, where they were to be interviewed by Nippon Television journalists and take part in a campaign event. The day before, police had warned Yang that police officers would monitor her home for “trouble,” and that interviews with foreign media would not be allowed. CHRD, China Human Rights Briefing October 21-November 3, 2016,

[88] On November 1, 2016, several prospective candidates witnessed police preventing Fan Sujun, a woman in her 80s who had intended to run, from leaving her home to take part in a campaign activity. CHRD, China Human Rights Briefing October 21-November 3, 2016.

[89] In early November 2016, authorities in Fangshan District, Beijing, followed and prevented Liu Huizhen from meeting with voters and participating in a rally. Reportedly, Liu was the only individual to make it on the ballot as an independent candidate for the elections in Beijing, among approximately 60 who had tried to register. On November 17, just prior to the voting, plainclothes police and/or hired thugs blocked a BBC journalist from interviewing Liu at her home, and forced the journalist to leave the area. After the election had taken place, the journalist was eventually able to interview Liu. While Liu spoke openly to him about the benefits of democratic governance, she declined to comment on the suppression that she faced prior to the election, admitting that discussing that issue would pose a risk to her. RDN, “Beijing Fangshan District Independent Candidate Liu Huizhen November 8, 2016, Record of Movements: Personal Freedom Restricted” (北京房山区独立候选人刘惠珍2016年11月八日出行记:人身自由遭侵害), November 9, 2016,; Financial Times, “Lone Beijing Independent Intimidated Ahead of China Elections,” November 4, 2016,; Associated Press, “China Harasses Independent Candidates for Low-Level Offices,” November 15, 2016,; BBC, “BBC stopped from visiting China independent candidate,” November 17, 2016,; BBC, “BBC returns to would-be China candidate,” November 24, 2016,

[90] Wu Lijuan, who had campaigned to run in her local election in Qianjiang City in Hubei Province, said that police had instructed residents to cut off communication with her and not vote for her, according to a foreign media report from November 2016. The New York Times, “’We have a Fake Election’: China Disrupts Local Campaigns,” November 15, 2016,

[91] At the time of this submission, Jiang Chengfen, an activist from Hanyuan County in Sichuan Province, is being detained partly in retaliation for campaigning as an independent candidate in 2016. Jiang was taken into custody on December 1, 2016, and formally arrested on January 6, 2017, on a charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Besides trying to run in her local election, Jiang has conducted advocacy related to, among other issues, land rights and household registration (hukou) and her child’s education. RDN, “Lawyer Chang Boyang: Introducing Case of Jiang Chengfen of Sichuan” (常伯阳律师: 四川姜成芬案情介绍), May 20, 2017,

[92] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 12.

[93] International Campaign for Tibet, “New conditions for Village Committees candidates exclude Tibetans who ‘secretly’ hold sympathy for the ‘Dalai Clique,’” September 25, 2014,

[94] CHRD interview, May 2017.

[95] Research conducted by Chinese activist of data on civil affairs participation of ethnic female minorities in China. The following is a fuller breakdown of regional-level CCP committee members and/or in government positions (chairpersons and vice chairpersons) in China’s five ethnic autonomous regions: Xinjiang – Standing Committee of the CCP 9th Session: 15 total members, no ethnic minority females; Committee Representatives of the CCP 8th Session: 26 total, no ethnic minority females; and Government: 10 total, no ethnic minority females; TAR – Standing Committee of CCP 9th Session: 16 total, no ethnic minority females; Committee Members of the CCP 9th Session: six total, no ethnic minority females; and Government: 14 total, one ethnic minority female (vice chair); Inner Mongolia – Standing Committee of the CCP 10th Session: 13 total, one ethnic minority female (vice secretary); and Government: nine total, two ethnic minority females; Guangxi – Standing Committee of the CCP 11th Session: 15 total, one ethnic minority female; Government: nine total, no ethnic minority females; Ningxia – Standing Committee of the CCP 12th Session: 12 total, one ethnic minority female; Government: eight total, one ethnic minority female.

[96] The Chinese government also did not provide relevant and specific data on ethnic minority women’s political participation in its January 2017 report submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The most recent instance of China providing any such data to a UN treaty body was in January 2012, in the government’s report to CEDAW, which included some totals and proportions of ethnic minority women in the NPC, CPPCC, and local governments, but only as of 2008-09. CEDAW, Combined Seventh and Eighth Periodic Report of States Parties – China, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, January 20, 2012, CEDAW/C/CHN/7-8, para. 132,

[97] CHRD interviews, May 2017. In preparing this submission, researchers decided not to file requests to try to obtain disaggregated data on ethnic minority women’s representation. Such requests can be made through China’s Open Government Information (OGI) system, a State channel provided for citizens to seek data that has not been made public. The main reason requests were not filed is that applicants may be vulnerable to retaliation by authorities. Chinese citizens who have previously sought data through the OGI system, such as prior to China’s 2015 review by the Committee against Torture, were interrogated, harassed, and detained by police in retaliation. The risk of reprisal has only increased in China’s current political climate. For more information, see: CHRD, “NGO Mid-Term Assessment Report of China’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review,” pg. 63, November 2016.

[98] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 14.

[99] For example, though Article 27 of the National Security Law (July 2015) states that the government protects freedom of religion, the law also includes provisions on restricting and criminalizing religious or other spiritual practice, such as by “punishing the exploitation of religion to conduct illegal and criminal activities” and “maintaining the normal order of religious activities.” National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China, July 2015, For a general analysis of current conditions for religious expression by Tibetans and Uyghurs, see: CHRD, “NGO Mid-Term Assessment Report of China’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review,” pgs. 49-52, November 2016.

[100], “Xinjiang introduces new regulations: parents prohibited from forcing children to participate in religion” (新疆出台新规:禁止家长诱导强迫孩子参加宗教), October 13, 2016,; CHRD, China Human Rights Briefing October 14-20, 2016,

[101] RFA, “China Clamps Down on ‘Underage Religion’ Among Muslim Uyghurs,” October 30, 2014,

[102] Counter-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国反恐怖主义法), December 2015,

[103] For more information, see: Uyghur Human Rights Project, “BRIEFING: China’s New Counter-Terrorism Law and Its Human Rights Implications for the Uyghur People,” February 1, 2016,; “Dangers of China’s counter-terrorism law for Tibetans and Uyghurs,” International Campaign for Tibet and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), November 2016,

[104] CNN, “Why China is banning beards and veils in Xinjiang,” March 31, 2017,; “Regulations on Extremism in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” (新疆维吾尔自治区去极端化条例),

[105] The ban is enforced in schools, hospitals, public transportation, government buildings, and businesses. A fine of up to approximately 800 USD or criminal charges can be imposed on individuals who refuse to comply with the rule on covering the body and veil. People’s Daily, “Public Places in Urumqi Ban Full Body and Face-Covering Veils” (乌鲁木齐市公共场所将禁止穿戴蒙面罩袍), January 17, 2015,

[106] Beyond the rights deprivation of placing rules on religious dress, such restrictions limit the capacity of Muslim women to fully participate in society, including as students or working professionals, since they must adjust their wardrobe between private and public spaces. China Youth Network, “Xinjiang Man Gets 6 Years for Beard, Wife Receives 2 Years for Wearing Face Veil” (新疆男子留大胡子获刑6年 妻子蒙面获刑2年), March 29, 2015,; CHRD interview, April 2017.

[107] RFA, “Uyghur Woman Handed 10-Year Prison Term Over Headscarf Claim,” September 19, 2017,

[108] CEDAW, Information received from China on follow-up to the concluding observations, January 10, 2017, para. 14.

[109] According to China’s official media, the number of Muslims permitted by the government to make the hajj pilgrimage has greatly expanded over the past two decades. China Daily, “14,500 Chinese make Hajj pilgrimage,” August 20, 2016,

[110] See, for example: The New York Times, “Egyptian Police Detain Uighurs and Deport Them to China,” July 6, 2017,; The Guardian, “Thailand defends Uighur deportation to China: ‘We didn’t send them all back’,” July 10, 2015,

[111] CHRD, “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime”: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016), pgs. 13-14.

[112] Hong Kong Free Press, “Xinjiang woman detained for sharing praise for Allah on social media – reports,” May 10, 2017,; RFA, “Xinjiang Uyghur girl forwards Allah image, detained on ‘terrorism’ charge” (新疆一维族姑娘转发真主安拉照片 被以涉“暴恐”罪名抓捕), May 9, 2017,

[113]  Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), “China Expands New Measures To Directly Control Tibetan Monasteries,” May 18, 2014,

[114] Xinhua, “Tibet Dispatches More Than 60,000 Cadres to the Grassroots Over Two Years, the Most Extensive Such Project in 60 Years’’ (西藏两年选派逾6万干部下基层 为60年来最大规模), September 10, 2013. According to the article, since October 2011, ‘‘more than 60,000 cadres’’ had been sent to the TAR’s ‘‘5,459 villages and 1,877 temples.’’;

[115] TCHRD, “China Expands New Measures To Directly Control Tibetan Monasteries,” May 18, 2014,; RFA, “Chinese Authorities Impose New Restrictions on Restive Tibetan County,” May 20, 2014,

[116] See example: RFA, “Larung Gar Evictees Forced to Attend Political Classes Back Home,” November 4, 2016,; The Tibet Post International, “Over 1000 monks, nuns expelled, forced patriotic reeducation in Tibet,” November 4, 2016,

[117] TCHRD, “Political Prisoner Database,” (Email correspondence, August 2017), Such totals have declined since October 2014, when the group had recorded 626 cases of detained Tibetan females, including 466 nuns and 160 laywomen. One reason for the decreases is that case information regarding ethnic Tibetans has become more difficult to obtain and confirm, due to the Chinese government’s elevated control of communication channels in Tibetan areas.

[118] TCHRD, “Tibetan woman, 20, detained in connection with Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday,” July 12, 2015,

[119] TCHRD, “China jails Tibetans for celebrating Dalai Lama’s birthday: Nine Tibetans get varying terms of 5 to 14 years,” December 7, 2016,

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