U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao, was discussed but did not dominate his talks with Chinese officials.
He says China and the United States disagree over the treatment of the jailed Liu and other human rights issues but stressed the potential for Sino-U.S. cooperation. "That issue did come up, and this is an area in which the United States and China have a fundamental disagreement. President Obama has made clear his position on this issue. We believe that China should respect the fundamental human rights of all its citizens, and that includes Liu," Holder said.
Washington has welcomed the prize and urged Beijing to release Liu, sentenced to 11 years in prison after calling for political reform.
China's government calls Liu a criminal.
Rule of law
Holder says efforts to promote the rule of law through discussions have stalled as the U.S.-China Legal Experts Dialogue initiative had yet to begin.
"I emphasized the importance the U.S. puts on this issue and urged that the experts convene next year. A commitment to the rule of law, implemented by well trained lawyers and independent judges," Holder said, "is essential to fighting corruption and ensuring a stable and prosperous society."
The attorney general says the two governments were nonetheless looking to cooperate more in law enforcement, including in fighting transnational crime, terrorism and drug trafficking. In addition to talks with China's top law enforcement officials, Holder met with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
One focus of his visit has been the protection on intellectual property. China is a leading source of illegally copied goods, ranging from computer software to auto parts. Copyright piracy costs companies in the United States billions of dollars a year.
Holder says he is encouraged by China's plan for a six-month campaign to cut copyright infringement.
Holder also confirmed that China's President Hu Jintao is to visit the U.S. in January.
His trip will further underscore a thaw in relations between the two countries after a year of tensions over trade and other issues.