Following the release of the State Department’s 1998 human rights report China recently agreed to sign the United Nations International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

This decision by China’s leadership supports the assertion made in the human rights report that while the Chinese government remains intolerant of political dissent, "Chinese society continue[s] to become more open and to diversify at a rapid pace."

More temperate relations between Washington and Beijing and a new confidence among Chinese leaders have made it possible for student leaders Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan to be released to the United States on medical parole.

Responses to the State Department’s report and China’s signing of the convention, however, have varied. Chinese officials criticized the report for distorting facts, arguing that the country has always abided by the U.N. human rights charter. They also accused the Clinton administration of interfering in China’s internal affairs. Critics in the U.S. and abroad questioned the accuracy of the report because it stated that China’s human rights record has improved.

A copy of the entire report can be obtained from the Department of State’s Internet web-site at

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