Annual Report: China 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: China 2013

View More Research

  • In January, media reports stated that 16 of 20 Uighurs who were forcibly returned from Cambodia in December 2009 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 16 years to life.
  • In May, nine Uighurs were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 15 years for participating in alleged “illegal religious activities”. In June, an 11-year-old boy, Mirzahid, died in custody after being detained for studying in an “illegal religious school”.
  • In July, several dozen families revealed to overseas groups their ongoing search for relatives missing since the crackdown that followed the July 2009 unrest. The youngest person missing was aged 16 when he disappeared.
  • Patigul, mother of Imammet Eli, aged 25 when detained, revealed to overseas media that she had searched for her son since his detention on 14 July 2009. She said that former inmates told her Imammet had been tortured in detention, and was taken to a hospital in August 2009. Since then she had no further news of him.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Legal and institutional developments

In March, Leung Chun-ying was selected as Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive not directly by the people but by a 1,193-strong Election Committee. Just days before the election, 220,000 people cast ballots in a straw poll in protest against the “small circle election”, the outcome of which was widely perceived to have been determined by the Beijing government.

Fears for the independence of the judiciary and other government bodies were raised when in September the Chief Secretary remarked that the Ombudsman’s Office and the Independent Commission Against Corruption were a major hurdle against policy implementation. In October, the former Secretary of Justice criticized Hong Kong judges for a lack of understanding of the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong.

The government planned to introduce Moral and National Education in primary schools, starting from 2012. Many perceived the subject as political propaganda and students were reportedly to be graded not only on their knowledge of the subject matter, but also on their emotional identification with the state. On 29 July, more than 90,000 people rallied against the curriculum. After the government initially ignored protesters’ demands, in late August protesters gathered outside government headquarters, and some went on hunger strike. At the height of the campaign, a reported 100,000 people joined a week-long protest. On 8 September, the government announced that the subject would be suspended indefinitely.

In November, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, a legislator, made a non-binding motion calling for a public consultation on a new law to protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The motion was defeated.

Migrant workers’ rights

There were approximately 300,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong, all of whom were excluded from the minimum wage law. Migrant domestic workers regularly paid the equivalent of three to six months of their salary in fees to recruitment agencies, despite Hong Kong law limiting the amount an agency can charge to 10 per cent of the workers’ first month’s salary. In September, the separate minimum allowable wage for migrant domestic workers increased from HK$3,740 (US$483) to HK$3,920 (US$506) per month, but many workers did not receive this minimum.