News / Asia

Obama, Hu Urged to Hold Substantive Human Rights Talks

Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, a political prisoner and China's leading human rights lawyer, speaks in front of her husband's portrait during a news conference, Washington, 18 Jan 2011
Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, a political prisoner and China's leading human rights lawyer, speaks in front of her husband's portrait during a news conference, Washington, 18 Jan 2011

Veteran Chinese dissident Bao Tong’s phone was cut off last October, shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize committee named jailed Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo its 2010 laureate. Bao’s phone service was only recently restored.

Bao is the highest ranking person to have been jailed for supporting protesting students in Beijing in 1989.

He, along with other activists are hoping Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao will hold substantive talks about Beijing's human rights record during Mr. Hu's state visit to Washington, which began on Tuesday. The Chinese leader is scheduled to hold extensive talks with Mr. Obama, meetings with congressional leaders and take a trip to Chicago.

Bao says human rights is too important of an issue for the two leaders not to talk about. The discussions should not just be superficial, Bao adds, but should be in depth and have results.

Another activist, Ding Zilin, is one of the main organizers of a group called "Tiananmen Mothers," made up of people whose family members were killed when Chinese troops crushed the demonstrations in 1989. Her son was killed.

She says she thinks Sino-American differences in human rights have been overshadowed by economic disputes and security issues. Therefore, she says she would like to see how Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu discuss human rights. Ding says she does not want their talks to be like before, when, in her opinion, talk about human rights was just a show.

She is especially angered by the Chinese government’s response to Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize. The reaction included putting Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest, and cutting off her communication with the outside world, even though she has committed no crime.

Ding is one of scores of activists in China who were put under house arrest after Liu won the prize. Like Bao Tong, her phone was only recently restored.

Authorities also harassed Chinese lawyers who were active in defending civil society cases.

Martin Flaherty is a law professor at Fordham University. He works with the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, made up of lawyers from outside China who seek to promote the independence of Chinese lawyers.

"You know the larger story, as I am sure you know, is that in the last two years or so, maybe two and a half years, there has been what appears to be a concerted crackdown on the small number of civil rights and human rights lawyers in China," Flahery said. "You know, we've had some fairly high profile ones."

One example of this crackdown is Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer who disappeared into police detention in 2009. He briefly resurfaced last April, but then disappeared again.

Gao was jailed on subversion charges in 2006, but his sentence was suspended and he was released early. He has been described as a galvanizing force for China’s rights movement, and has argued cases to defend property rights, as well as political and religious dissenters.

Gao’s wife Geng He, who fled to the United States, has appealed to President Obama to raise her husband’s case with President Hu.

Critics of China’s human rights record on Capitol Hill urged President Obama to call on the Chinese government to also release Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

China denies abusing human rights and says Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal. China also points to its economic growth, which has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty, as proof of its concern for human rights.

Although China still makes clear it does not tolerate much dissent, Chinese citizens in the past 30 years have gotten increased freedom to travel domestically and aboard, while people also have access to a greater range of publications and television programming than they did a few decades ago.

You May Like

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid