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CECC Chairs Say Human Rights Dialogue “Critical Opportunity” to Discuss China’s “Abysmal Human Rights Record” Ahead of Xi Visit

Aug 14, 2015 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C.– Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) Chairman Representative Chris Smith and Co-chairman Marco Rubio in a joint statement today urged the Obama Administration to use the occasion of the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, convening in Washington, D.C. this week, to send the unambiguous message that tangible progress on human rights should be a key goal of President Xi Jinping’s planned September visit.
“Some in the broader human rights community have questioned the utility of the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue out of a concern that the dialogue has effectively marginalized human rights issues in our bilateral relations with China, allowing the Chinese government to avoid discussing these critical issues in higher level dialogues and forums.   We are sympathetic to this view and are hard-pressed to point to any discernible improvement in China’s abysmal human rights record resulting from this exchange in recent years.
“Nevertheless, because the dialogue occurs so close the planned September visit of President Xi, it affords the Administration a critical opportunity and leverage to press the Chinese government to release prisoners of conscience, abandon problematic new security-related laws, halt the crackdown on human rights lawyers and rights advocates, and end wide-ranging religious freedom restrictions, including the removal of crosses and the demolitions of church buildings currently underway in Zhejiang province.  Failure to forcefully and unflinchingly raise these issues only gives the Chinese government license to continue its abusive policies and repression of peaceful dissent.
“The stakes are high for this dialogue, just as they were for the recent Strategic & Economic Dialogue, precisely because the Chinese government would like nothing more than for President Xi’s visit to be a success. The Obama Administration should send a clear and unambiguous message during the human rights dialogue that the Xi visit needs to be accompanied by substantive improvements in this area.
“The U.S. seeks a responsible partner in China and President Xi wants a ‘new type’ of bilateral relations, but this will not happen until basic human rights are protected, censorship of the Internet ends, and the Chinese legal system operates independent of the political control of the Communist Party.”