World News

    In Final Speech, US Ambassador Slams China on Rights

    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke used his final speech in office Wednesday to urge Beijing to strengthen its rule of law and provide greater freedom of expression.

    Speaking to a group of Chinese university students in Beijing, Locke said in many cases China would need only to adhere to its existing laws in order to protect fundamental human rights.



    "China has a great future ahead of it. But reaching its full potential will depend on a neutral and respected judiciary, an active set of dedicated lawyers, wise leadership, but most of all, reverence toward the rule of law. It will depend on respect for the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech for all, an open Internet, a well-informed citizenry willing to engage in unrestricted dialogue on how best to build a stable and progressive future for China."



    The 63-year-old Locke leaves Beijing Saturday. He has served as ambassador since 2011, filling one of America's most complicated diplomatic posts at a time of increased tension with Beijing.

    Many of Locke's comments Wednesday focused on U.S. concerns over China's intensifying crackdown on those who criticize the Communist Party.



    "The U.S. is deeply concerned over the recent pattern of harassment, arrests, prosecutions of good government advocates, of public interest lawyers, of activists, Internet journalists, religious leaders, and even others in China. The United States calls on China to guarantee peaceful activists the protections and freedoms to which they're entitled under China's international human rights commitments."



    He also urged Beijing to provide "better and more equitable treatment" of foreign journalists, many of whom complain of interference or official retribution as result of their coverage.

    China's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, responded to Locke's comments by saying that Chinese citizens enjoy "unprecedented rights and freedoms."




    "China has achieved huge progress that has attracted the world's attention since the implementation of reform and opening up policy in more than 30 years. Citizens have enjoyed unprecedented rights and freedoms, which is an objective fact that cannot be denied by anyone. We are willing, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to have dialogue and exchanges with other countries for joint progress. But we firmly oppose any person using these so-called issues to interfere in China's internal affairs and make thoughtless remarks and criticize summarily on China's internal issues."



    Locke is the first Chinese-American to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Beijing. He often drew headlines in China for his relatively humble demeanor that stood in contrast to the lavish lifestyle of many Chinese leaders

    He is being replaced by veteran lawmaker Max Baucus. The 72-year-old senator from the northwestern state of Montana has limited China experience, but a record of taking a tough stance on controversial Chinese trade practices.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora