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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More