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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid