China Society and Human Rights

Population and society

With around 1.3 billion people, nearly a fifth of the world’s population, China is the most populous state on the planet. To control the phenomenon, the Communist Party has launched a birth planning policy, according to which each couple can have only one child, except for twins, ethnic minorities, rural families and parents who, in turn, they were both only children. The model was introduced in 1978, on the basis of some demographic theories then considered applicable; however, the imbalances it generated questioned its validity, leading to its abolition in 2015.

The ratio of workers to retirees shows a negative trend: from the current ‘five to one’ to ‘two to one’ in 2030, for a fertility rate (1.67 in 2014) and a demographic rate (0.5% in 2014) among the lowest in the world. Furthermore, the one-child law has led to strong imbalances in the distribution of the male-female ratio at birth: according to 2013 data, 118 children are born for every 100 girls in China, a figure very far from the world average of 105 boys for every 100 girls.

According to Themotorcyclers, China is divided between the rural population (45.6% in 2014) and the urban population (54.4%), a proportion that is regulated by a housing registration system (hukou) and complex procedures for selling arable land. The hukou system also regulates access to services such as health and education and limits mobility within China: the hukou also determines the rights of the millions of migrants who move from the countryside to the countryside every year. city ​​to work, making de facto migrants of second-class citizens. This problem led the government in 2014 to partially relax the rules regarding housing registration by eliminating the distinction between urban and rural residents, but this still remains one of the sectors that most urgently need reform.

The Chinese population is highly literate (95.2%, since it rises to over 99% if we consider the population under 30), but in 2010 only 12% of the population had obtained a degree, due to the tight selection required for enter university. In recent years, the government has invested heavily in the academic system: the first step, in 1995, was the ‘211 project’ to increase the country’s scientific institutes.

The PRC is considered a multi-national state thanks to the presence of numerous minorities. In addition to the Han ethnicity (92% of the population in 2015), there are 55 minorities officially recognized by the government, which correspond to almost 110 million people. Some minorities reside in at least nominally autonomous areas, which provide for the presence of a member of the local ethnic group at the top of the administration, but which are in any case subject to the authority of the CPC. However, the relationship between the Han and other ethnic groups is not always peaceful and has given rise to several conflicts, such as those in Xinjiang and Tibet. The Chinese government recognizes and authorizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism. During the 1950s, religious communities were pushed to form associations which, on the one hand, facilitate government control and, on the other, tend towards autocephaly (a classic example is the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which does not respond to the Catholic Church Roman).

According to many researches, the majority of the Chinese population is atheist or agnostic and does not adhere to any creed; and also with regard to the rest of the population, a syncretic and relatively little intense approach to religion prevails: it is not unusual, for example, for a Chinese Christian to also draw inspiration from Buddhist and Taoist precepts. Finally, Confucianism is of great cultural importance, a moral and political philosophy that has exerted an enormous influence on modern and traditional Chinese thought. However, Confucianism should in no way be confused with a religious doctrine and is, indeed, one of the foundations of Chinese atheism and materialism.

Freedom and rights

Freedom of expression in China today finds a critical field of application on the internet: its 674 million users (October 2015) constitute the largest pool of Internet users in the world. However, access to sensitive or potentially sensitive sites is limited by the government’s so-called Great Firewall. The use of private networks and the phenomenon of microblogs, to overcome the restrictions, however, allowed to express criticisms of the party and to have a large following. During 2013, Xi Jinping’s government tightened measures against the most prominent personalities on the internet and justified them as a cybersecurity practice. Businesses’ need for interaction with the outside world is limited by this stringent scrutiny and it is likely that the problem will need to be addressed.

In a more general perspective, in 2015 there was a squeeze on the so-called ‘human rights lawyers’, with numerous arrests. There was also growing pressure in university academies against those accused of promoting Western values ​​at the expense of party doctrine. Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption campaign in 2013, with such a strong impact as to reduce consumption in the luxury market. This campaign, seen by some as a settling of scores within the CPC, led in the summer of 2014 to the arrest for corruption and, in June 2015, to the life sentence of ‘tiger’ Zhou Yongkang, one of the men. most influential of the CPC: this was the biggest political scandal since Bo Xilai’s arrest and it will certainly have important consequences in the political landscape in the coming years.

As for the status of women, the situation seems to undergo a gradual change: six Chinese are in the ranking of the richest women in the world. However, the exploitation of prostitution remains serious and widespread, especially in contexts of recent urbanization.

China Society

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