News / Asia

US Lawmakers, Activists Press China to Improve Human Rights

Protesters outside the White House during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, Jan 19 2011
Protesters outside the White House during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit, Jan 19 2011
William Ide

U.S. lawmakers and activists called on China Wednesday to dramatically improve its human rights record as Chinese President Hu Jintao had his first state visit with President Barack Obama.

Protesters rallied outside the White House Wednesday as President Obama met with Chinese leader Hu Jintao and prepared to treat him to China's first state dinner in more than a decade.

Some cried for more rights for minority groups such as Tibetans and China's Muslim Uighurs and freedom of religion, others denounced the country's human rights record and enforcement of its one child policy through the practice of forced abortions.

Tenzin Dolkar of the group Students for a Free Tibet says the abuses that China commits against its own  people show that it remains a repressive and authoritative state.

She says China's oppression of the Tibetan people in the wake of the 2008 protests continues.

"China has launched a full scale attack against Tibetan writers, intellectuals, musicians and even artists and even just regular Tibetan people who dare to challenge China's failed policy inside Tibet, so the situation has just been suffering, said Dolkar.

Elnigar Iltebir, is with the group Uighur Americans in the United States.

"If China wants to be a strong international power it cannot continue oppressing its own people, said Iltebir.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers, activists and experts raised questions about China's behavior in a wide range of areas from security to trade and human rights.

China's behavior in international affairs and at home is also raising concerns.

Chairwoman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

"Would a responsible stakeholder refer to the Nobel committee as a bunch of clowns for awarding an honor to a distinguished Chinese human rights advocate? Would a responsible stakeholder arrest the wife of a Nobel Peace prize winner as further retaliation for speaking the truth about the gross human rights violations in China, asked Ros-Lehtinen.

Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December. He is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for his advocacy of human rights and democracy in China. His wife has been detained since shortly after Liu was awarded the prize in October and her whereabouts remain unknown.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican Congressman from the state of California voiced his strong opposition to treating China to a state dinner. He thanked the committee for holding the hearing just as President Obama was meeting with Mr. Hu.

"We have to understand that as we speak our country is officially welcoming President Hu as if he had the same stature and acceptability here as a democratic leader, said Rohrabacher. “We welcome him the same as we do countries that are democratic that respect human rights. This is wrong!"

The exact number of individuals in China who are being held as prisoners of conscience is unknown.  

Former Tiananmen activist Yang Jianli, says that what is clear is that Chinese officials at the local and central level continue to use direct violence, house arrest and disappearances to silence dissent.

"I also urge you to pay attention to the disappearance of Chinese citizens as a result of the government's unwarranted actions,” said Yang Jianli. “The most notorious case is Gao Zhisheng. He has not been heard from ever since last April. After being repeatedly detained and severely tortured."

Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng a human rights lawyer, attended the hearing Wednesday and spoke out about her husband at a separate press conference.

"So many times, we've had sleepless nights as we worry about his safety,” she said. “So many times, when we think about the torture that he is going through our hearts break. So many times, we have wept as we wonder where he is."

Geng He added her voice to a growing chorus of others who are calling on the U.S. to press China to improve human rights and urged President Obama to help her children get their father back.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid