News / Asia

Human Rights Activist Describes White House Meeting on China

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (file photo)
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (file photo)

The head of a prominent human rights organization has spoken about a meeting he and three other rights activists had with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, urging the White House to focus on human rights during next week's visit by China's Vice President Xi Jinping.  

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, called the roughly 45 minute meeting with Biden a "candid and productive exchange."

The White House announced the Wednesday meeting with Roth and three other activists in a statement released on Thursday.  It said Biden discussed "the deterioration of China’s human rights situation, prospects for reform, and recommendations for U.S. policy.”

In addition to Roth, the group included Xiaorong Li of the group Human Rights in China, Benjamin Liebman, a Columbia University expert on China’s legal system, and Jianying Zha, an expert on Chinese media and popular culture.

Roth said they asked Biden to ensure that human rights be given a "central public place" in conversations with China's vice president, something, he said, Biden indicated he was determined to do.

"He really volunteered that he felt the U.S.-China relationship has to be based on the truth, that the truth is that HR [human rights] are universal values; they are not [only] Western [values], they are actually going to be central to China's success in the future," said Roth.

Roth's summary agreed with the official White House account of the meeting, which said Biden discussed how "greater openness and protection of universal rights is the best way to promote innovation, prosperity, and stability in all countries, including China."

Roth said the group did not get a White House commitment on a request Human Rights Watch made in a letter to President Barack Obama last month, that he invite former Chinese political prisoners and government critics to the White House.

The Human Rights Watch official said the discussion with Biden did not get into specific circumstances of political prisoners in China, noting that the White House is fully aware of these cases.

Roth pointed to a broader objective of focusing on "systematic" human rights violations in China.

"While obviously we all want to see particular political prisoners freed, no one is satisfied by that kind of tokenism," he said. "There are systematic problems in China today with their human rights record.  And those are the key things to address.  I don't think we should leave the impression that China can buy off criticism by releasing a prisoner here or there when the end result is usually that they just arrest someone else."

In a discussion in Washington on Thursday sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, experts echoed Roth, saying that they do not expect specific human rights cases to come up during Xi Jinping's White House talks.

Michael Green, who served as Asia Director for the National Security Council during the administration of former President George W. Bush, says it remains to be seen how Xi Jinping might respond to pressure on human rights during next week's meetings.

"It will be interesting to find out, if we can, if in the meetings with the president and the vice president, he [ Xi] actually contests the issue and says, 'Oh yeah, well you have human rights [issues].'  I could see him pushing back more privately, and maybe even publicly, because he has done it before," said Green.

Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch said he and other activists urged Vice President Biden to work to ensure that the United States adopts a "whole government approach" to human rights in China.

Roth said they stressed that the audience for an intensified public and private approach is not just Vice President Xi, but the Chinese people - including reformers who would feel abandoned if such discussion does not take place.   

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs