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PEN International report on China 2013

PEN International | 14 March 2013

PEN international

Dear Colleagues,

PEN International has recently submitted a report on its freedom of expression concerns in China to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as part of its Universal Periodic Review of the country in October this year. Please find attached a copy of the report, which may also be found online here.

A brief summary of the concerns raised for China follows:

More than a decade ago, China’s leaders pledged to expand press freedom and improve protections for human rights including the right to freedom of expression. Those pledges, offered in order to secure Beijing’s bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, remain unfulfilled. The Chinese government has continued to jail writers, journalists, and bloggers simply for their writings, and the sentences it has imposed on them have remained consistently harsh. Authorities have also carried out a series of crackdowns aimed at silencing critical voices that have included not just arrests and prosecutions but also beatings, forced disappearances, and arbitrary detentions. February 2011 saw a notable rise in the number of writers subjected to these extrajudicial practices as anonymous calls began circulating for an Arab Spring-like revolution in China.

In the realm of book publishing, state-owned publishing houses still censor works, and the government also exerts considerable control over a growing private-sector publishing industry through the allocation of ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers), fostering a culture of self-censorship among publishers.

Over the last several years, Chinese authorities have also carried out what it calls a “stability maintenance” program, the main feature of which is a comprehensive Internet censorship and surveillance regime that directly violates the right of all China’s citizens to “seek, receive, and impart information through any media regardless of frontiers.”

Finally, language plays a vital role in relation to identity, communication, social integration, education and development, and PEN has seen a direct threat to the diversity of language throughout the People’s Republic. Linguistic rights in Tibet and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region are of particular concern as Mandarin continues to be implemented as the primary language of instruction in schools.

The recommendations were as follows:

We will be in touch later this year about how your Centre can take part in lobbying efforts in the run-up to the United Nation’s review of China.

View the full report China UPR Submission, March 2013 (pdf)

PEN International Universal Periodic Review Submission 2013

If you have any questions about the report or PEN’s work in China, please contact Cathy McCann at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email:

Kind regards, Emma

Emma Wadsworth-Jones | Writers in Prison Committee Assistant | PEN International t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338 | Twitter | Facebook | Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

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International PEN is trading as PEN International. International PEN is a company registered in England and Wales with registration number 05683997. International PEN is a registered charity in Englandand Wales with registration number 1117088. International PEN’s registered office is Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6ER,UK.

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