China faces unprecedented UN human rights scrutiny

China will face unprecedented scrutiny of its human rights record Monday in a key test of Beijing’s readiness to answer international criticism over its treatment of political opponents.

Beijing has sent a large, high-level delegation to Geneva to defend China’s human rights performance in the face of questioning from members of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“This is an important test both for China and for the United Nations,” says Nicholas Bequelin, a China expert with Human Rights Watch.

By Peter Ford
ChristianScience Monitor

Some observers doubt that the formal and generally nonconfrontational UN body will actually put China on the spot for the wide-ranging human rights violations of which its authoritarian government stands accused.

The United States declined to join the council when it was formed in 2006, saying the body was toothless. President Obama has said he will reconsider that decision.

Monday’s meeting “will be a kabuki dance, a farce,” argues Brett Schaefer, an analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, unless China takes foreign criticism more seriously than it has done until now.

Human rights activists here and abroad, however, express hopes that Monday’s meeting will indeed help speed China’s efforts to improve its rights record.

“International pressure is very helpful and very, very necessary to improve the human rights situation here,” says Li Heping, a well-known human rights lawyer who has himself been kidnapped and beaten up for his work.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/2009
0209/wl_csm/ochinaun_1

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