News / Asia

Locke Highlights Rights, Reconciliation at Beijing Farewell Presser

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke gestures as he speaks during a farewell press conference held at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Feb. 27, 2014.
Outgoing U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke gestures as he speaks during a farewell press conference held at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Feb. 27, 2014.
William Ide
Gary Locke, the departing U.S. Ambassador to China, urged Beijing to respect the rights of peaceful activists at a farewell news conference Thursday. He also spoke about growing tensions in the East China Sea and the need for China and Japan to use diplomacy to reconcile their differences. 

Locke said the United States is very concerned about the arrest of Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti and others in China.

"We believe that freedom of expression is a universal right and we very much are concerned about any arrests and detentions of people who are engaged in peaceful advocacy," he said.
 
Tohti is an economics professor and member of the Uighur Muslim minority from China's Western region of Xinjiang. Authorities took Tohti from his home in Beijing last month. On Tuesday, he was officially charged with inciting separatism.
 
He said that while there has been much violence in Xinjiang, China needs to focus on respecting human rights.  
 
Chinese authorities say they are doing just that.  
 
Officials insist that terrorists and Muslim separatists are the ones responsible for a recent surge in violence in Xinjiang. That includes an attack on Tiananmen Square late last year that killed five and injured dozens of others.
 
The government says it has raised living standards in places such as Xinjiang and brought prosperity. Critics say religious restrictions on minorities and other social problems brought on by government policies are feeding tensions.

Locke says the United States deplores all forms of violence committed by any person.

"Human rights is more than just economic prosperity and improvement in economic conditions of people, but also fundamental universal rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the ability to practice ones own religion," he added.
 
The issue of human rights is one of many that Locke has focused on during his time in Beijing. Locke is the first Chinese American to serve as ambassador in the capital of the world's second largest economy.
 
Progress

A former commerce minister in the United States and two-term governor, Locke says people-to-people exchanges have grown significantly during his tenure in China, as have American exports to the country.
 
He did not deny, however, that the relationship was still fraught with challenges.

Locke said if there is a problem with the relationship it is that there is still a lack of mutual understanding - particularly regarding the massive challenges China faces.

"Problems and challenges that are so enormous, so complex that it would be very, very difficult to even address in the United States," said Locke.
 
During his time in office, Beijing and Washington found a way to compromise over the case of a blind activist seeking refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Locke says the flight of the former police chief of ousted political star Bo Xilai to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu and the way the incident was handled has perhaps had an impact on the trajectory of China's politics.
 
Religion

China's role in the region has taken dramatic shifts over the past two years as well, with tensions rising dramatically with its neighbor Japan, an ally of the United States.
 
Locke urged the two sides to use diplomatic channels to help avoid any unintended incidents that could have severe consequences. He also noted that while relations between the United States and Japan were rough in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the two found a way to reconcile their differences.
 
"The key is that we all learn from our mistakes and that we learn from those mistakes, acknowledge those mistakes. Study history so we can avoid repeating those mistakes," explained Locke. "And it's also important that we be able to have reconciliation."
 
Locke departs Beijing this Saturday with his wife. He is being replaced by former U.S. Senator Max Baucus.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid