The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN body monitoring state compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, has issued its observations today, following its review of the People`s Republic of China. CERD has found patterns of discrimination affecting rights to housing and shelter of "minority" populations, internal migrants and asylum seekers.
The Committee found that China`s official system of incentives granted to Han Chinese to work and settle in the autonomous minority regions, particularly Tibet and the Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang/East Turkestan) manipulate the demography of those regions to the disadvantage of the indigenous people. CERD observed that such policy "may result in substantive changes in the demographic composition that impact negatively on local traditions and cultures in these regions" (CERD/C/CHN/CO/10–13, para. 13).
These actions by the State party contravene obligations provided in articles 2 and 5 of the Convention, as CERD also found to be the case in its 1996 observations (CERD/C/304/Add.15, para. 26).
The Committee noted the de facto discrimination against internal migrants in several fields that indirectly results from the national household registration system ("hukou"). The denial of services and rights also affects members of ethnic minorities, and in particular women. CERD has recommended that the State party implement reforms to the "hukou" system such that ensures that internal migrants, in particular members of ethnic minorities, will be able to enjoy the same work, social security, health and education benefits as long-time urban residents (CERD/C/CHN/CO/10–13, para. 14).
CERD also noted China`s violations of its obligations to apply the principle of nonrefoulement of refugees and asylum seekers, instead forcing the return of asylum seekers to their peril. This, the Committee observed, has been the case systematically affecting refugees from the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea seeking asylum in China.
Although the PRC Constitution stipulates that all ethnic groups in the country are equal, no legislation provides a definition of racial discrimination nor prohibits discrimination on the basis of descent or national origin. CERD reiterated its call for China to legislate the prohibition of racial discrimination, especially to protect noncitizens (CERD/C/CHN/CO/10–13, para. 10).
The CERD Concluding Observations on are accessible at: http://www.hlrn.org/admins/editdocument.asp?id=242