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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid