Human Rights in the Year of China’s Leadership Transition
WASHINGTON, DC (March 2, 2012) – 2012 is the year of leadership transition in China; China’s President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will “exit stage left” in the next 12 months. They will turn over the reins of power of the world’s second largest economy to their presumptive successors Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. What will be the human rights legacy of the Hu/Wen era? Will their successors take the same hard line against perceived dissent? Will civil society activists continue to be targeted for harassment, detention, and extralegal enforced disappearance? Or will the combination of rising popular rights consciousness, growing labor unrest, and greater demands by China’s nascent middle class for transparency and accountability prompt changes in how the Chinese government responds to perceived threats to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power? Drawing on Human Rights Watch’s wide body of work on human rights in China, Dr. Nicholas Bequelin and Phelim Kine discussed these and related issues and their implications for China’s key bilateral partners, including the US and the EU.
Dr. Nicholas Bequelin is senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, based in Hong Kong, and a leading expert on legal reforms and human rights in China. He obtained his PhD in History from the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris, in 2001. His publications have appeared in The China Journal, The China Quarterly, The Journal Asian Studies as well as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The International Herald Tribune. He is a former visiting scholar at Yale University's China Law Center.
Phelim Kine is a senior Asia researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. A former news wire bureau chief in Jakarta, he worked as a journalist for more than a decade in China, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Taiwan prior to joining Human Rights Watch in April 2007. Mr. Kine’s opinion pieces on China’s human rights challenges have appeared in media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He is a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.