Index of Democratization in China

作者:Joseph Y. S. Cheng Fan Li 发表时间:2013-9-26 16:43:31

Joseph Y. S. Cheng*

Political Science
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Fan Li

Director, World and China Institute, Beijing, China

Abstract

This is probably the first attempt to design a series of indicators to examine the democratization process in China and compare this process with the situation in recognized liberal democracies and with those in other developing countries. After the 2010 exercise to assess the situation in 2009, the exercise was repeated again in 2011 to evaluate the progress of democratization in 2010. If this examination takes place at regular intervals, one may hope to have a better understanding of the progress of democratization in China and its various significant aspects.

Keywords: Index of democratization; elections; accountability; the rule of law; and civil rights.

I. Introduction

China is obviously not a democratic country yet, but the development of democracy or the democratization process in China is an interesting question, both from an academic point of view and on the basis of practical political considerations. Chinese leaders often claim that they have been promoting the development of socialist democracy in the country; and apparently the issue of universal values or democracy as a universal value is a serious controversy within the Chinese leadership. The design of a series of indicators to examine the democratization process in China and compare this process with the situation in recognized liberal democracies and with those in other developing countries are challenging. Further, if this examination takes place at regular intervals, one may even have a better understanding of the progress of democratization in China and its various significant aspects.

Li Fan of the World and China Institute in Beijing initiated this endeavour in 2010, and repeated the exercise in the following year. The set of questions and indicators adopted benefited much from references to many sets already in use by research and survey organizations,[1] with adjustments introduced based on considerations of the special circumstances in China. The institute’s task force held a number of work conferences to define the set of questions and indicators and the allocation of marks; in this process it also consulted many experts. A preliminary survey was conducted by inviting five experts to complete the detailed questionnaire, and the preliminary survey led to many revisions and refinements. The formal survey involved twelve invited experts. Since the 2009 survey was the first of its kinds, all the invited experts went through a comprehensive review of developments in China in 2009 in terms of democracy, rule of law, reform in governance, civil rights, people’s political participation, etc. They then completed the questionnaire.

After the 2010 exercise to assess the situation in 2009, the exercise was repeated again in 2011 to evaluate the progress of democratization in 2010. Similarly a team of twelve experts was involved, with six academics and six activists/practitioners engaged in democratization work. The academics included two scholars in the field of political science, two in sociology and two in law, and the activists/practitioners consisted of two NGO/civil action activists, three lawyers and one journalist. Attempts were also made to maintain an ideological balance between the liberals and the conservatives within the team.

II The Questionnaire and Scores

Calculation of Score

Ten marks are given to each position; and the score assigns a 30% weight to the institutional aspect and a 70% weight to the reality aspect, because an obvious gap often exists in China between the institution on law and the actual implementation.

Regarding the sub-topics, a weight is often attached. Hence the calculation of scores will have to take into consideration of the weights attached (see Table 1)


Table 1 Weights of Topics and Sub-topics

Category

Topic

Weight Attached

Sub-topic

Weight Attached

A. Elections

1. Electoral Rights of Citizens

2. Elections of the Government

3. Elections of People’s Congress

4. Elections at the Grassroots Level

10%

40%

40%


10%

B. Accountability

1. Horizontal Accountability






2. Vertical Accountability

50%







50%

1. The Exercise of the Power of the NPC

2. The Exercise of the Power of the Local People’s Congress

3. People’s Congress Accountable to Voters and the Society

4. The Executive Authorities Accountable to the Society

5. Transparency of Information

60%


40%




35%




35%



30%

C. The Rule of Law

1. Independence of the Judiciary

2. Limitation of Authorities’ Abuse of Their Authorities

3. Equal Rights

4. Personal Freedoms and Their Protection

5. Property Rights

30%

20%



15%

20%


15%

D. Civil Rights

1. Economic Development Rights

2. Freedom of Expression






3. Assembly and Forming Associations

40%


30%






30%




1. Media and the Internet

2. Religion

3. Cultural and Academic Activities

4. Articulation of Viewpoints

5. Assembly

6. Forming Associations




20%

30%

30%


20%

50%

50%

To ensure a high measure of standardization, the twelve experts were offered the following guidelines for assessment:

Assessment of the Institutional Aspect

0: No legal and institutional stipulations protecting the civil right concerned, or the stimulations completely violate the international standards on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law;

1-3: Some legal and institutional stimulations exist, but the legislative principles are aimed at restricting the exercise of the civil rights stimulated by international conventions, and the content of the stimulations impose strong constraints on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law;

4-6: Many related legal and institutional stimulations have been promulgated, and their principal contents have met the international standards on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law;

7-10: All the important legal and institutional stipulations have been promulgated, and they meet the international standards on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law.

Assessment of the Reality Aspect

0: There is no implementation of the concerned legal and institutional stimulations on democracy and human rights;

1-3: Some related implementation has been carried out regarding very limited aspects or within very limited areas; in practice, some legal and institutional stipulations have not been implemented, and in some cases, the implementation exceeds the original legal and institutional stipulations but meets the international standards on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law;

4-6: In many aspects and in many areas, related implementation has been carried out, and in practice has met the international standards on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law;

7-10: The legal and institutional stipulation has all been implemented, and has met the international standards on democracy, civil rights and the rule of law.

III Results and Observations

The scores for the 2009 and 2010 surveys are summarized in Table 2.


Table 2 Scores of 2009 and 2010 According to Categories, Topics and Sub-topics

Score

Score

Score

Category

2009

2010

Topic

2009

2010

Sub-topic

2009

2010

A. Elections

1.41

1.22

1. Electoral Rights of Citizens (10%)

1.64

1.64

2. Election of Government (40%)

0.36

0.36

3. Election of People"s Congress (40%)

1.76

1.76

4. Grassroots Election (10%)

3.97

2.12

B. Accountability

3.70

2.99

1. Horizontal Accountability (50%)

4.45

3.52

(1) Performance of the National People"s Congress"s Right (60%)

4.39

3.70

(2) Performance of the Local People"s Congress"s Right (40%)

4.55

3.26

2. Vertical Accountability (50%)

2.94

2.45

(3) Accountability of People"s Congress to Electors and Society (35%)

3.04

2.41

(4) Accountability of Administration to Society (35%)

2.74

2.59

(5) Information Transparency (30%)

3.05

2.34

C. Nomocracy

3.34

3.45

1. Independence of Judiciary (30%)

2.04

1.82

2. Restriction on Power Abuse by Government (20%)

2.77

2.68

3. The Right of Equality (15%)

5.10

5.69

4. Personal Freedom and Protection (20%)

4.16

4.06

5. Property Right (15%)

3.84

4.67

D. Civil Rights

2.82

2.68

1. Economic Development Right (40%)

5.00

4.89

2. Freedom of Speech (30%)

1.52

1.31

(1) Media and Internet (20%)

1.48

1.35

(2) Religion (30%)

0.98

0.94

(3) Cultural and Academic Activities (30%)

2.00

1.43

(4) Opinion Expression (20%)

1.63

1.67

3. Assembly and Association (30%)

1.21

1.11

(1) Assembly (50%)

0.72

0.83

(2) Association (50%)

1.70

1.38


As shown in Table 2, in 2009 the detailed scores of the Index of Democratization in China were 1.41 for elections, 3.7 for accountability, 3.34 for the rule of law, and 2.82 for civil rights. Elections were the category with the lowest score, which reflected that in China at this stage, not only severe restrictions existed in the elected reform, there were also no breakthrough in actual implementation. Citizens’ electoral rights were not protected in a fair and legal manner, and citizens had no part to play in the election of government leaders. Not too many categories of elections, e.g., those of professional organizations, are available, and there are considerable gaps between electoral practices in China and those in accord with international conventions.

The score for civil rights in 2009 is 2.82, which is not high. The score for economic development rights manages to raise the score for the entire category, and it reflects objectively the rapid economic development in China in the era of economic reforms and opening to the external world as well as the raising of the living standards for the vast majority of the population. Scores for the other two topics: freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and forming associations are quite low. Though the current Constitution has made relevant provisions, these civil and political rights have not been well implemented and protected.

The score for accountability is 3.7 and is the highest among the four categories, and that for the rule of law is 3.34, the second highest. There have been some reforms in these two areas, but the overall performance was still inadequate, far below the recognized international standards.

Though no previous surveys are available for comparison, based on the survey results in 2009 and on practical experiences, the author believe that the overall democratization situation in China in 2009 was in retrogression. However, because of the development and strengthening of the civil society, the people had been exerting pressure in the government regarding specific issues, forcing it to engage in reforms, hence some progress had been made in the categories of accountability and the rule of law. While the current situation offers no cause for optimism, on the whole, the door for democratization has not been shut.

In the 2010 survey, the score for elections declined from 1.41 to 1.22, that for civil rights dropped a little from 2.82 to 2.68, and that for accountability fell considerably from 3.7 to 2.99, while that for the rule of law improved from 3.34 to 3.35. The scores on the whole reflect the tightening of control and the deterioration of the democratization process in China since 2008.

The Questionnaire (original version in Chinese)

1. Elections

1.1 Electoral Rights of Citizens

1.1.1 Does every citizen enjoy the right to take part directly in public affairs or through representatives freely chosen?

1.1.2 Does every citizen enjoy the right to elect and be elected in genuine elections at regular intervals? These elections should be based on universal and equal suffrage by secret ballot to ensure the free expression of the electors’ will.

1.2 Elections of the Government

1.2.1 Is the highest executive position at the national level elected in an open, fair and competitive electoral process allowing free participation by the citizenry?

1.2.2 Are the chief executive positions at all levels of government elected in an open, fair and competitive electoral process allowing free participation by the citizenry?

1.2.3 In elections, are all political parties or social organizations free from legal or political constraints?

1.2.4 Are there equal campaigning opportunities for all political parties?

1.2.5 Are elections held at regular intervals and monitored by independent electoral authorities?

1.3 Elections of People’s Congress

1.3.1 Are deputies of people’s congress at all levels elected in an open, fair and competitive electoral process allowing free participation by the citizenry?

1.3.2 Are elections held at regular intervals and monitored by independent electoral authorities?

1.3.3 Do adult citizens enjoy universal suffrage?

1.3.4 Is each person’s vote given equivalent weight to those of other votes in order to ensure equal representation?

1.3.5 In elections, are all political parties or social organizations free from legal or political constraints?

1.3.6 Is the emergence of candidates in accord with the principles of openness, fairness and competition?

1.3.7 Is the right of citizens to freely nominate candidates protected by law?

1.3.8 Can multiple candidates represent a broad range of views participate in elections, and be free from unfair treatment?

1.3.9 Is there a clean, detailed and fairly legislated electoral law to guide elections?

1.3.10 Are election commissions or other election administrative authorities independent and free from government or other pressures and interferences, and able to perform their duties fairly, effectively, and in a balanced manner?

1.3.11 Are there specialized agencies to handle electoral disputes, and can they handle electoral disputes independently and fairly?

1.3.12 Is there any comprehensive management processes defined by law for electoral disputes?

1.3.13 Is the distribution of the seats of the representatives and the process of defining the distribution fair?

1.3.14 Is there a clear processes stipulating the announcement of the list of candidates?

1.3.15 Is the registration of votes conducted in an accurate, timely, transparent and non-discriminatory manner?

1.3.16 Are the voting rights of the migrant population effectively protected by law?

1.3.17 Is the drawing of the boundaries of electoral districts conducted in a fair and open manner?

1.3.18 Are there adequate regulations to prevent inappropriate ways of affecting elections, e.g., campaign finance laws, laws on the prevention of bribery in elections, etc.?

1.3.19 Can candidates make speeches, hold public meeting and have access to media for publicity throughout the campaign period, and be far from intimidation?

1.3.20 Does voting take place by secret ballot or by an equivalent free voting procedure?

1.3.21 Are voters able to vote for the candidate or political party of their choice, without undue pressure or intimidation?

1.3.22 Is the vote count transparent, conducted openly on the spot, with the results announced immediately?

1.3.23 Is voting by proxy implemented fairly?

1.3.24 Are mobile ballot boxes used fairly?

1.3.25 Can the representatives of independent election monitoring organizations, political parties or candidate observe the counting of votes to ensure its honesty?

1.3.26 Is the voters’ right of recall protected by law?

1.3.27 Were independent, unofficial election observation organizations allowed to observe the most recent elections?

1.4 Elections at the Grassroots Level

1.4.1 Is there an electoral law to guide grassroots elections in a uniform manner to be conducted in an open, fair and competitive way?

1.4.2 Can multiple candidates representing a broad range of views participate in elections, and are free from unfair treatment?

1.4.3 Are election commissions or other election administrative authorities independent and free from government or other pressures and interferences, and can perform their duties fairly, effectively, and in a balanced manner?

1.4.4 Are there specialized agencies to handle electoral disputes, and can they handle electoral disputes independently and fairly? Are there comprehensive management processes defined by law for electoral disputes?

1.4.5 Is the registration of votes conducted in an accurate, timely, transparent and non-discriminatory manner? Is there a clear processes stipulating the announcement of the list of candidates?

1.4.6 Are the voting rights of the migrant population effectively protected by law?

1.4.7 Can candidates make speeches, held public meeting and have access to media for publicity throughout the campaign period, and be far from intimidation?

1.4.8 Does voting take place by secret ballot or by an equivalent free voting procedure?

1.4.9 Is the vote count transparent, conducted openly on the spot, with the results announced immediately?

1.4.10 Is voting by proxy implemented fairly?

1.4.11 Are mobile ballot boxes used fairly?

1.4.12 Were independent, unofficial election observation organizations allowed to observe the most recent elections?

2. Accountability

2.1 Horizontal Accountability — the Exercise of the Power of the National People’s Congress(NPC)

2.1.1 Does the NPC have constitutional powers, and can it fully exercise them?

2.1.2 Does the NPC have the power to interpret the Constitution, and can it fully exercise it?

2.1.3 Does the NPC have the power to legislate, and can it fully exercise it?

2.1.4 Does the NPC have the power to monitor other branches of government, and can it fully exercise it?

2.1.5 Does the NPC have power over the government personal matters, and can it fully exercise it?

2.1.6 Does the NPC have power over the government budget, and can it fully exercise it?

2.2 Horizontal Accountability — the Exercise of the Power of the Local People’s Congresses

2.2.1 Do people’s congresses at all levels have the power to interpret local laws, and can they fully exercise it?

2.2.2 Do people’s congresses at all levels have the power to legislate, and can they fully exercise it?

2.2.3 Do people’s congresses at all levels have the power to monitor other branches of government at their corresponding level, and can they fully exercise it?

2.2.4 Do people’s congresses at all levels have power over government personnel matters at their corresponding level and can they fully exercise it?

2.2.5 Do people’s congresses at all levels have power over government budget at their corresponding level, and can they fully exercise it?

2.3 Vertical Accountability — People’s Congress Accountable to Voters and the Society

2.3.1 Do people’s congresses, their standing committees, and deputies of people’s congresses maintain close contacts with their voters, and can honestly neglect their voters’ views?

2.3.2 Can citizens and social organizations take part in the legislative process?

2.3.3 Do people’s congresses conduct hearings, and guarantee the participation of citizens and the media?

2.3.4 Do citizens receive responses to their various views sent to people’s congresses and through letters and visits to the authorities, as well as prompt solutions too? Alternatively, do people’s congresses reflect these views to the government agencies concerned?

2.4 Vertical Accountability — the Executive Authorities Accountable to the Society

2.4.1 In its policy-making process, does government open up to allow meaningful public participation?

2.4.2 Do the public and the media have formal channels to comment on the planning and policy implementation of the executive authorities?

2.4.3 Before the formulation and execution of major decisions, does the government solicit views from the society, enterprises, trade unions and other groups?

2.4.4 Does the government set up committees, consultative mechanisms and other opportunities for participation, so as to allow the society to articulate its common causes and demands?

2.4.5 Concerning the responses and demands of the people, the society and the media, has the government been able to respond and solve the problems promptly and effectively?

2.4.6 Is the exercise of the executive power impartial in policy making and implementation? Are there no variations in treatment for different target groups?

2.4.7 Is the exercise of executive power by the government restrained and supervised by law?

2.5 Vertical Accountability — Transparency of Information

2.5.1 Does the government have related laws and regulations to facilitate its release of information to the public to the greatest extent?

2.5.2 Does the public have the right to demand access to information related to the functioning of the government?

2.5.3 Has the government been releasing or publicizing information on policy and other matters promptly to the public?

2.5.4 Can the public engage in enquiries and questioning on the related information released by the government?

2.5.5 Is information available on the appointment and removal of government officials at all levels?

2.5.6 Do governments at all levels promptly release their detailed budgets and accounts?

2.5.7 Does the government ensure that its purchases and the signing of contracts are transparent, and based on open tenders and effective competition?

2.5.8 Does the government release information to the public concerning its organizational establishment?

2.5.9 Does the government release information to the public concerning the outcome of its audit exercise?

3. The Rule of Law

3.1 Independence of the Judiciary

3.1.1 Are judges appointed or dismissed based on fair and impartial considerations? Is there an open and transparent process?

3.1.2 Are public prosecutors appointed or dismissed based on fair and impartial considerations? Is there an open and transparent process?

3.1.3 Have there been effective criminal legal reforms (for example, the principle of innocence unless proven quilty, fair and open trials, a jury system, independent legal counselling, provision of defence lawyers by the public sector, independence of the procuratorate, etc.)?

3.1.4 Is the Judiciary subject to interferences from the executive authorities, the legislature, other political parties, various political, economic or religious forces?

3.1.5 Do judges adjudicate fairly and impartially, and would not render verdicts that favour the government or specific interests, whether in return for bribery or other reasons?

3.1.6 Are procurators independent of politics, other political parties or strong private interests (legal or illegal), and free from their control and influences?

3.1.7 Do the executive authorities, the legislature, and other government agencies comply with the judiciary’s verdicts, and that they will be effectively implemented?

3.1.8 Are verdicts of the judiciary free from the influences of powerful individuals, and that verdicts violating powerful actors’ interests will be effectively implemented?

3.2 Limits on the Government’s Abuse of Their Authorities

3.2.1 Does the state offer the victims of corruption appropriate mechanisms to restore the exercise of their own rights?

3.2.2 Is there any protection for citizens against torture by state officials? Are there effective sanctions in cases where torture is founded to have occurred?

3.2.3 Are government officials and members of the governing party prosecuted for abuse of power and illegal activities?

3.2.4 When citizens’ rights have been violated by the authorities, are there adequate legal provisions for them to effectively petition and seek redress?

3.2.5 Are bribes and other incentives needed to secure from government officials the essential legal documents or other government actions to travel, change one’s place of residence or employment, enter schools or institutions of higher education, or operate private enterprises?

3.3 Equal Rights

3.3.1 Are all persons treated equally before the courts and tribunals?

3.3.2 Does the state ensure equal rights for men and women in their exercise of all civil and political rights?

3.3.3 Does the state adopt measures, including legislation, to amend or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against women?

3.3.4 Do women face de jure and de facto discrimination in economic and social matters, including property and inheritance rights, divorce proceedings and children custody matters?

3.3.5 In a country with ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, are there attempts to deny these minorities the rights to enjoy their cultures, observe their religious beliefs or practise their religions, or use their languages among members of their own groups?

3.3.6 Does the state adopt measures, including legislation, to amend or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against ethnic, religious and other minorities?

3.3.7 Does the state make progressive efforts to amend or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against the physically or mentally handicapped?

3.3.8 Does the state adopt reasonable actions to protect citizens against all forms of discrimination in employment and occupations?

3.4 Personal Freedoms and Their Protection

3.4.1 Does the constitution or other state legislation provide guarantee of basic political, civil and human rights (including freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, freedom of association, and business and property rights)? Do the state and non-government actors actually respect the basic political, civil and non-government actors actually respect the basic political, civil and human rights?

3.4.2 Are there no ex post facto laws? Is the principle being respected?

3.4.3 Do law enforcement officials make arbitrary arrests and detentions without warrants? Do they fabricate or secretly plant evidence on suspects?

3.4.4 Is there any effective protection of citizens against arbitrary arrests and detentions?

3.4.5 Do law enforcement officials beat detainees during arrests and interrogations, or use excessive force or torture to extract confessions?

3.4.6 Are the rights of defendants (including the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty) protected?

3.4.7 Are detainees provided access to independent, competent legal counsel?

3.4.8 Do citizens have the rights and access to independent legal counsel?

3.4.9 In the pre-trial stage, are the defendants and the detained given humane treatment and that which are respectful of their human dignity?

3.4.10 Are prisoners given humane treatment and the guarantee that their human dignity would be respected? Are they free from inhumane treatment by prison officers or bullies?

3.4.11 Are defendants given a fair, pubic and timely trial by a competent, independent, and impartial court?

3.4.12 After receiving a guilty verdict, do the defendants have the right to appeal?

3.4.13 Are people protected from long-term detention exceeding the effective legal limit without trial?

3.4.14 Is violence against women (including wife-beating and rape) widespread? Are the perpetrators brought to justice?

3.4.15 Does the state adopt measures to prevent trafficking in women and children?

3.4.16 Does the state protect citizens from abuse by individuals or non-state actors?

3.4.17 Does movement within the country require permission from the authorities?

3.4.18 Are there restrictions on foreign travel, including the use of an exit visa system, which may be issued selectively?

3.4.19 Are the authorities free from arbitrarily denying the right of nationals entering their own country?

3.4.20 Does the government determine or otherwise influence a person’s identity category and place of employment?

3.4.21 Is the population subjected to physical harm, forced removal, or other acts of violence and terror due to social conflict or civil war?

3.4.22 Does the government determine the number of children that a couple may have?

3.4.23 Does the government engage in financial sponsorship of religious, cultural and ethnic education and impose related restrictions on personal freedoms?

3.4.24 Do private institutions (including religious groups) unduly infringe on the rights of individuals, including the choice of marriage partners, dress code, etc.?

3.4.25 Are people protected from their life being taken away?

3.4.26 Are people before adulthood (eighteen years old and below) protected from the death penalty?

3.4.27 Are pregnant women protected from the death penalty?

3.4.28 Is the state making serious progress to amend or abolish the death penalty?

3.4.29 Do all victims of arbitrary arrests and detention have the right to secure compensation?

3.4.30 Are juvenile criminals separated from adult criminals, and given the legal status and treatment appropriate for their age?

3.4.31 Are all people free from forced or compulsory labour of any form?

3.4.32 Are there regulations prohibiting the employment of children and juveniles?

3.4.33 Is everyone free from arbitrary or illegal interferences of his/her private life, family, residence and communications, and that his/her honour and reputation should not be illegally attached?

3.5 Property Rights

3.5.1 Does the state give everyone the absolute right to own property? Does the state fully enforce property rights and contracts? Does the state protect its citizens from arbitrary or unjust deprivation of their property rights (for example, the state unjustly revokes citizens’ property entitlements for government use or to pursue its political agenda)?

3.5.2 Is the management of property rights determined by the owners themselves?

3.5.3 Are people legally allowed to establish and operate private enterprises with a reasonable minimum of registration, licensing and other requirements?

3.5.4 Are people legally allowed to establish and sell land and other properties, and can they do so in actual practice without undue interferences from the government or non-government actors?

3.5.5 Do private individuals or non-state actors (including criminal groups) impede private business activities through such measures as extortion, blackmail, etc.?

3.5.6 Does the government appropriate land with appropriate and prompt compensation?

3.5.7 Does the state protect individuals’ spiritual and material benefits derived from their scientific, literary or art works?

4. Civil Rights

4.1 Economic Development Rights

4.1.1 Is there any guarantee that people would be free from hunger?

4.1.2 Is there any guarantee that everyone would have the right to secure adequate food, clothing and accommodation, and can continuously improve his/her living conditions?

4.1.3 Does the state recognize that everyone has the right to attain the highest feasible standards in physical and mental health?

4.1.4 Is there any guarantee that everyone when he/she is sick will secure a minimum standard of free medical care?

4.1.5 Is there any guarantee that everyone has the right to enjoy social security (e.g., pension, medical insurance)?

4.1.6 Is there any guarantee that everyone has the right to enjoy public holidays and reasonable work hours?

4.1.7 Are there clear stipulations that women and men enjoy equal pay and working conditions for the same kind of work?

4.1.8 Are there clear stipulations that working mothers are given paid leave or leave with appropriate social security benefit payments?

4.1.9 Does the state recognize that everyone has the right to education, and nine years of free education?

4.1.10 Does the state encourage or promote basic education for those who have not received or have not completed primary education?

4.2 Freedom of Expression: Media and the Internet

4.2.1 Does the state (through the Constitution and national legislation) protect the right of news coverage and the release of information on the part of the domestic media?

4.2.2 Does the state (through the Constitution and national legislation) protect the right of news coverage and the release of information on the part of the foreign media?

4.2.3 Does the government directly or indirectly censor print, broadcast or Internet-based media?

4.2.4 Do journalists face censorship from the government, especially when reporting on politically sensitive issues, including corruption or the activities of senior government officials?

4.2.5 Does the government use libel and security laws to punish those media which scrutinize government officials and their policies through fines, imprisonment, etc.?

4.2.6 Are the majority of print and electronic media privately owned? Are their editorial and news coverage functions free and do not suffer from excessive attention from the owners?

4.2.7 If the media are dependent on the government’s financial support, does it control funding to engage in its propaganda, accord priority to the release of official points of view, or limit access for the opposition forces to coalesce and for the public to criticize?

4.2.8 Does the government attempt to influence media content and access through various means including politically motivated awarding of broadcast frequencies and newspaper registration, unfair control over printing facilities and distribution networks, selective distribution of advertising, prohibitive taxes and fees, and even bribery?

4.2.9 Are journalists threatened, arrested, imprisoned, beaten or killed by the government or non-governmental actors for their legitimate journalistic activities? And if such cases occur, are they investigated and prosecuted fairly and expeditiously?

4.2.10 Are journalists and the media outlets able to form professional associations functioning on their own?

4.2.11 Does the state (constitution and national legislation) protect the right of the public to have access to the Internet and its use?

4.2.12 Does society enjoy free access to and use of the Internet? Is diversity of opinion available through online sources, and does the government make no attempt to control the Internet?

4.2.13 Does the government offer the public Internet channels to understand political affairs and reflect their views?

4.2.14 Does the public enjoy a diverse selection of print and electronic sources of information, at both national and local levels, that represent a range of political viewpoints?

4.2.15 Do Internet users easily expose their genuine identifications through government investigation? Do Internet activities free of doubts that they may lead to violation of personal rights?

4.2.16 Are Internet information flows free from government examination or control?

4.3 Freedom of Expression: Religion

4.3.1 Does the state (constitution and national legislation) protect the right of religious beliefs?

4.3.2 Are registration requirements employed by the government to impede the free functioning of religious institutions?

4.3.3 Does the government deliberately establish or support specific religious organizations, and interfere in their personal structures and funding sources?

4.3.4 Does the government appoint or otherwise influence the appointment of religious leaders?

4.3.5 Does the government control the production and distribution of religious books, various religious materials, and the content of religious preaching?

4.3.6 Is the construction of religious buildings banned or restricted?

4.3.7 Are members of religious groups, including minority faiths and movements, harassed, fired, arrested, or suppressed by the authorities for engaging in their religious practices?

4.3.8 Does the government place undue restrictions on religious education? Does the government make demands on religious education?

4.3.9 Do religious organizations have the right to take part freely in international religious activities?

4.4 Freedom of Expression: Cultural and Academic Activities

4.4.1 Does the state recognize everyone’s right to take part in cultural activities?

4.4.2 Are works of literature, art, music, and other forms of cultural expression censored or banned for political purposes?

4.4.3 Are the resources for cultural expression (art circles, cultural parks, publication industry, etc.) controlled by the government? Does the government attempt to interfere in cultural expression for political purpose (for example, setting certain entry requirements)?

4.4.4 Do participants in cultural activities have the right to engage in free co-operation with their counterparts in foreign activities?

4.4.5 Can professors and academics freely engage in academic activities of a political nature, and do not have to fear threats or physical violence from the state or non-state actors?

4.4.6 Does the state, in pursuit of its political objectives, exert pressure to strongly influence or control the content of the school curriculum?

4.4.7 Are student organizations which raise political issues allowed to function freely?

4.4.8 Does the government (including through the administrative cadres of schools) exert pressure on teachers and students in support of certain political symbols or issues, including forcing them to participate in political gatherings or voting for certain candidates? On the other hand, does the government (including through the administrative cadres of schools) stop or prevent teachers and students from supporting certain candidates or groups?

4.5 Freedom of Expression: Articulation of Viewpoints

4.5.1 Does everyone have the right to express his/her views freely, including the freedom of securing, accepting and transmitting all types of information and ideas, irrespective of national boundaries, and irrespective of in oral, written, printed form, adopting artistic forms or through one’s choice of any other medium?

4.5.2 Are people able to engage in private discussions, particularly of a political nature (in places including restaurants, public transport and their own homes) without fear of harassment and arrest by the authorities?

4.5.3 Does the state effectively protect political opponents or other peaceful activists?

4.5.4 Is it a crime to insult the honour and dignity of leading cadres or government officials? How broad is the range of such prohibitions, and how vigorously are they enforced?

4.5.5 Does the government employ people or groups to engage in public surveillance, and to report alleged anti-government talks to the authorities?

4.5.6 Does the government attempt to monitor the articulation of views by individuals (e.g., tapping telephones, opening private letters, etc.)?

4.6 Assembly and Forming Associations: Assembly

4.6.1 Does the state (constitution and national legislation) protect every citizen’s right of free assembly?

4.6.2 Does organizing legal assemblies face serious limitations?

4.6.3 In the process of assembly, do the participants encounter government monitoring and pressure?

4.6.4 Do peaceful protest activities encounter prohibitions or serious limitations from the government?

4.6.5 Would the securing of permits for holding peaceful demonstrations according to the legal requirements be specially troublesome and time-consuming?

4.6.6 Do participants in peaceful demonstrations face threats, arrests or physical violence?

4.7 Assembly and Forming Associations: Forming Associations

4.7.1 Does the state (Constitution and national legislation) effectively recognize and protect the right of associations with a political purpose based on peaceful demands to organize, mobilize and advocate (organizations for democracy, human rights and political reforms)?

4.7.2 Is the legal regulatory and management environment for civil society organizations free from the pressure of the state and the bureaucratic system (considering the issues of control, legal rights, government regulations, fund-raising, taxation, purchasing and channels of communication)?

4.7.3 Does the government exert control over the personnel or leadership arrangements of non-governmental organizations?

4.7.4 Are the registration and other legal requirements especially vigorous for non-governmental organizations? Does the government inhibit them from functioning freely?

4.7.5 Are the laws and regulations governing the finance of non-governmental organizations especially over-complicated and troublesome?

4.7.6 Are the donors (including foreign foundations) of non-governmental organizations free from governmental pressures?

4.7.7 Are members of non-governmental organizations threatened, arrested, imprisoned or physically assaulted because of their work?

4.7.8 Are the activities of non-governmental organizations free from governmental interferences? And can they freely engage in international activities?

4.7.9 Does the state respect and protect the rights of trade unions and chambers of commerce?

4.7.10 Are professional associations (including business associations) allowed to function freely without government interference?

4.7.11 Is the establishment of trade unions allowed? And can they function freely without government interference?

4.7.12 Do workers face pressure from the government and employers on their participation or non-participation in certain trade unions? Do they encounter harassment, violence and unemployment because of this?

4.7.13 Does the government control the organizational personnel and funding sources of trade unions?

4.7.14 Are workers allowed to take part in strikes? Would trade unions members taking part in peaceful strikes face retaliation? (This question may not apply to workers involved in fundamental government services or public security functions.)

4.7.15 Can trade unions engage in collective bargaining with employers? Can they engage in negotiations on a collective bargaining basis reaching agreements which would be implemented in actual practice?

4.7.16 Does the government allow peasants’ associations or similar units? Are there laws stipulating the prohibition of establishing peasants’ associations?

About the Authors

Joseph Y. S. Cheng is the Chair Professor of Political Science and Co-ordinator of the Contemporary China Research Project at the City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. He has published widely on the political development in China and Hong Kong, Chinese foreign policy and local government in southern China. He is the founding editor of the Hong Kong Journal of Social Sciences and The Journal of Comparative Asian Development, and has recently edited the titles: Challenges and Policy Programmes of China’s New Leadership and The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Its First Decade. He was also the founding president of the Asian Studies Association of Hong Kong from 2005 to 2007.

Fan Li graduated from the History Department, Beijing Normal University, in 1981. From 1981 to 1984, he was an Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. From 1984 to 1989 he studied at the Sociology Department and Political Science Department, Ohio State University, where he obtained his Master Degree in Political Science. From 1989 to 1993, he worked in the China International Study Center of the State Council as a senior research fellow. He is now the Director as well as a senior research fellow at the World and China Institute (WCI), which he established in Beijing in 1993, being an independent non-government, non-profit research institute dedicated to the mutual understanding of the world and China. Recently, the WCI focuses on the electoral reform and democratic development in China, as well as the public policy of China. He has published and edited more than thirty books, and written many articles on Chinese and world economy, history, politics and culture in China and around the world.



* Correspondence concerning this article may be addressed to the author at: rcccrc@cityu.edu.hk

[1] For example, the research done by Professor Larry Diamond of Stanford University, the measurement tools developed by Freedom House, USA, and the Final Report (in Chinese) of the International Co-operation Project of Measuring China’s Progress toward Democracy, which was sponsored by the Executive Yuan, Mainland Affairs Council, Taipei, Taiwan and released in March 2009.