Dallas Morning News: Ted Cruz: U.S. showing the wrong priorities with China

The Dallas Morning News
By Ted Cruz
U.S. Senator
Published: 26 July 2016 10:55 am
Updated: 26 July 2016 11:33 am

■ During a trip to Beijing last month for the eighth U.S.-China Strategic Security & Economic Dialogue,Secretary of State John Kerry remarked:

“After all, that’s the purpose of government — to represent the people and to meet the needs of our people, both of us — even though, as President Xi said, we have different systems, different culture, different history. We acknowledge that. We respect that.”

While I too acknowledge China’s impressive 5,000-year cultural history, there is little about the Communist regime of the People’s Republic of China that commands the “respect” of the United States. From Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping, the Chinese people have suffered an unbroken line of oppressive dictators. The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution are stones in a graveyard of failed Communist experiments that murdered millions, while Tiananmen Square and the One (now Two) Child Policy serve as warning to any who would seek to escape that repressive policies are unchanged.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, poses with Chinese
President Xi Jinping prior to their meeting in January.
Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press <br></br>

The call by Kerry to respect China, and the suggestion that the Communist Party of China “represents the people” and “meets their needs,” were devastating blows to the hundreds of political prisoners languishing in China today.

One such prisoner is Yang Maodong, better known as Guo Feixiong. Guo is serving a six-year term in Yangchun Prison for organizing peaceful protests against press censorship. Currently on the 78th day of a hunger strike, he has lost at least a third of his body weight.

While China has a nominal constitution, there is no corresponding rule of law. Still, brave souls there have given and are giving their lives to change this harsh reality. Guo began his advocacy on behalf of religious minorities, providing legal counsel to incarcerated Christian pastors and Falun Gong-affiliated attorneys. A founding member of the “rights movement” in China, he has defended thousands of Chinese citizens who did not know they were theoretically entitled to civil rights.

Guo was arrested on four separate occasions from 2005 to 2014. His lawyer described Guo’s most recent trial as “a fascist, Cultural-Revolution style apparatus.” China has interrogated Guo over 200 times since 2005, and he suffers from a serious gastrointestinal medical condition. In response to popular outcry that he receive proper medical care, Chinese officials shamed Guo by conducting a colonoscopy with no pain killers, while filming the entire procedure. He was denied yard time for over 800 consecutive days.

In a June 9 letter, Guo’s wife, Zhang Qing, pleaded with her husband to end his hunger strike. Zhang and her two children, who have resided in Midland, Texas, since 2009 after fleeing China for their safety, have not seen Guo in six years. Even so, she concluded her letter:

“Everything you’ve been doing is all part of a sincere hope that China will progress, to become a society with equal human rights, basic freedoms and respect for life. These ideals, and striving to realize them, will always be the right thing to do.”

I share Zhang’s — and Guo’s — sincere hope for political liberalization in China. But for too long, the United States has prioritized our economic dealings with China above speaking the truth about the Communist Party of China.

The fact of the matter is that we have real leverage over China, which is extremely sensitive to criticism of its human rights record. We know this to be the case with Guo. His sister was denied visitation because, in her words, “every one of my visits with him led to enormous amounts of international and domestic public opinion and attention and focus [on his case].”

American attention to and focus on Guo’s case are exactly what is needed now. The spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has reportedly “urged” China to release Guo, but bolder action is needed on the part of the Obama administration. Time is running short.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, may be contacted through cruz.senate.gov.

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