Friday, February 22, 2013
No Exit: China Uses Passports as Political Cudgel
Imagine not being able to visit your family because the government does not allow it. Imagine that you want to go to graduate school but you can’t because you do not have a passport. Imagine you take a flight home and are denied entry into your home country. Currently, China is denying specific ethnic groups and activists who speak out against the government the right to renew or even receive a passport for fear of dissent from citizens and to punish them for opposing the government.
In the 1980s China began providing exit visas and passports to citizens. By 1991, the dissent grew so China reacted by creating approved destinations of travel and then followed up this action by making it harder for people to gain passports. For the ethnic majority (the Han), it takes about two weeks to get a passport but for other ethnicities it can take years or there is even the possibility that they may never receive a passport or visa. Mr. Sun, a 79-year old man, has repeatedly been denied a passport to go visit his 90-year-old brother in Taiwan or his daughter in America because he has written against the current party ruling over China. This is an outrageous violation of his human rights. No person should be denied the right to be ‘caged in’ their home country and no person should be denied the right to see their family without just cause. In this last year approximately fourteen million people have been denied the right to leave or re-enter China. Unless China changes their policy on passports and allowing people the right into and out of the country, China will see major problems in the future including but not limited to, more dissent, intervention from other countries, and a possible uprising by minorities.