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Rubio Chairs Hearing on Protecting Human Rights in Tibet, Challenging China’s Export of Censorship Globally

Feb 15, 2018 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, held a hearing today titled “Tibet ‘From All Angles’: Protecting Human Rights, Defending Strategic Access, and Challenging China’s Export of Censorship Globally.” The Commission heard from Dhondup Wangchen (alternate spelling: Dondrub Wangchen), a Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner, and other experts who provided information about the current situation facing Tibetans in China and offered their recommendations on how to promote access, human rights, and better American diplomacy on issues concerning Tibetan autonomous areas of China within U.S.-China relations.
Tibet remains one of the most sensitive issues in U.S.-China relations. Inside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous areas, Chinese officials have increased restrictions on the religious and cultural life of Tibetans. At the same time, the Chinese government exports its authoritarianism abroad, pressuring foreign academic institutions who invite the Dalai Lama to speak on campus as well as businesses who mention his name or the TAR as a distinct region in China.
At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing earlier yesterday, Rubio raised concerns about the threat posed by China’s growing influence.
Rubio’s remarks can be watched here. A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.
Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Washington, D.C.
February 14, 2018
RUBIO: Driven by their bottom line and China’s vast market, many companies are increasing prepared to tow Beijing’s line. There is a certain grim irony to the Chinese government demanding that businesses apologize for social media posts on social media platforms that are actually blocked inside of China. It is clear that the cost of doing business for foreign companies in China keeps getting steeper. And at the same time, there is little price to be paid in the West when companies engage in self-censorship to further their bottom line despite the fact that it is antithetical to the values that underpin our own society – the values, by the way, that allow these companies to even exist in the first place.

Mr. Wangchen, when you were in prison, were you aware of the international advocacy on your behalf, and if so, could you give us a sense of the impact that it may have had on you and all those who supported you?
WANGCHEN: I did not know that there was this widespread campaign on my behalf internationally when I was in prison. But I did know that there were people who were working, trying to work on my behalf. Oftentimes, even it was even the Chinese authorities themselves who would come and tell me ‘why is there so much interest in your cause outside?’ So I want to say that from my own experience, any voice that’s raised on behalf of political prisoners has a very positive impact even on their lives. I can say from my own experience that it is always good to raise voice on behalf of the political prisoners.

RUBIO: What you are describing is the use of a student organization to basically oppress and hassle those who have views or point to facts that run contrary to the narrative that they seek to pursue and it is one of the things we are most interested on. And we started last week by writing to all of the higher academic institutions – including one high school by the way – in the state of Florida. One of them has already cancelled [their Confucius Institute agreement]: the University of West Florida. We hope that the others will reexamine that arrangement and ensure that at a minimum none of these activities are occurring in those institutions. And I suspect that a number of others will follow the lead of the University of West Florida, particularly after yesterday’s testimony by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation about how they’ve been very interested, been keeping a close eye on how the Confucius Institutes and the student organizations have been used in this country.