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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs