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Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearances by the government; torture by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention by the government including since 2017 of more than one million Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim minority groups in extrajudicial internment camps, prisons, and an additional unknown number subjected to daytime-only “re-education” training; political prisoners; transnational repression against individuals in other countries; the lack of an independent judiciary and Communist Party control over the judicial and legal system; arbitrary interference with privacy including pervasive and intrusive technical surveillance and monitoring including the use of COVID-19 tracking apps for nonpublic-health purposes; punishment of family members for offenses allegedly committed by an individual; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others; serious restrictions on internet freedom, including site blocking; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws that apply to foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations; severe restrictions and suppression of religious freedom; substantial restrictions on freedom of movement; refoulement of asylum seekers to North Korea, where they have a well-founded fear of persecution, including torture and sexual violence; the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; serious restrictions on political participation; serious government corruption; serious government restrictions on or harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations; forced sterilization and coerced abortions; violence targeting members of national, racial, and ethnic minority groups; trafficking in persons, including forced labor; severe restrictions on labor rights, including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own choosing; and child labor.

Since 2016 authorities ordered Xinjiang residents to turn in their passports or told residents no new passports were available. On May 10, media reported that the National Immigration Administration would strictly restrict PRC citizens from nonessential foreign travel to implement the national zero-COVID policy.

Most citizens could not obtain or renew passports due to restrictions aimed at reducing international travel to minimize COVID-19 infections from overseas. Individuals the government deemed potential political threats, including religious leaders, political dissidents, and petitioners, as well as their family members and members of ethnic minority groups, routinely reported being refused passports or otherwise being prevented from traveling overseas. Uyghurs, particularly those residing in Xinjiang, reported great difficulty in getting passport applications approved. They were frequently denied passports to travel abroad.

Several news outlets reported that during the July bank protests in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, some citizens’ health codes turned red (indicating the person must quarantine), severely curtailing their ability to enter public grounds and indoor areas, or access public transportation, despite undergoing regular COVID-19 tests and never leaving the city.

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The government and its agents engaged in acts to intimidate or exact reprisals against individuals outside of China, including against Uyghurs, dissidents, and foreign journalists. Extraterritorial Killing, Kidnapping, Forced Returns, or Other Violence or Threats of Violence: Media reported that in October, officials at the PRC consulate general in Manchester, United Kingdom, including the consul general, dragged an individual protesting PRC policies in Hong Kong onto the consulate grounds and assaulted him.

Six party officials were “punished” for their misuse of COVID-19 health codes to prevent bank depositors from protesting bank fraud, the Zhengzhou Discipline Commission announced on June 22. The commission investigation revealed 1, 317 depositors were illegally given “red codes, ” including 871 depositors not located in Zhengzhou. On June 27, video was widely shared of a daughter and elderly father in Dandong, Liaoning Province, being blocked from picking up the father’s medicine by a police officer because the daughter’s health code was not green.

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b., for a description of RSDL and liuzhi. ) On August 31, OHCHR released an assessment of the human rights situation in Xinjiang. The report concluded that “the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of the Uyghur and predominantly Muslim groups…may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity. ” On September 6, Safeguard Defenders published a report on Residential Surveillance (RS), a form of house arrest used to detain an individual who is under investigation. Unlike the RSDL system, which allows police to place a suspect into secret detention at undisclosed locations, RS takes place at the suspect’s home. In some cases persons are allowed to receive visitors and use their telephone; in other cases they are isolated and barred from all communication, visits, or leaving the house.

During the year authorities imprisoned numerous journalists working in traditional and new media. The government also silenced numerous independent journalists by restricting their movement under the guise of pandemic response. Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 World Press Freedom Index tallied at least 102 journalists (professional and nonprofessional) detained in the country. Of these, 60 came from Xinjiang. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) 2021 report on media freedoms, released in January, found that the government continued to intimidate foreign correspondents, their local Chinese colleagues, and individuals they interviewed through physical assaults, online trolling, cyber hacking, and visa denials.

Authorities also blocked the travel of some family members of activists, including foreign family members. Border officials and police sometimes cited threats to “national security” as the reason for refusing permission to leave the country, although authorities often provided no reason for such exit bans. Authorities stopped most of these individuals at the airport at the time of their attempted travel.

An altercation between the family and the police officer ensued, and afterwards the local police issued a 10-day detention notice for the daughter, while the father was notified that he could be charged for assaulting the officer. According to her October 31 post on Twitter, Wang Yu, a well-known human rights lawyer, was unable to return to Beijing due to a “pop up” (a notification that a person may have been in an area with a COVID-19 case) on her Beijing Health Kit app.

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Hong Kong Watch

Wang Yu said she had been denied access to Beijing for more than 70 days. In February when the Beijing Health Kit first added “pop ups, ” prominent human rights lawyers including Wang Yu were restricted from traveling within China and from returning to Beijing. Foreign Travel: The government controlled emigration and foreign travel. The government denied passport applications or used exit controls for departing passengers at airports and other border crossings to deny foreign travel to some dissidents and persons employed in government posts. Throughout the year many lawyers, artists, authors, and activists were at times prevented from exiting the country.

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