U.S. Ambassador Meets with Chinese Rights Lawyer Zhang Kai Following Ban

ChinaAid
July 20, 2010

BEIJING–Restricted from leaving the country and banned from the courtroom this month, Zhang Kai met with a sympathetic U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman on Friday morning, July 16.  As a Chinese rights defender, Attorney Zhang Kai has taken on highly sensitive rights cases in the past year, including participating in the defense and appeals for the cases of Shanxi Linfen Church, Beijing Shouwang Church, and Uyghur Christian Alimujiang Yimiti.
On July 4, Zhang Kai was prevented from flying to the United States for a legal training conference; a week later, Attorney Zhang was barred from entering a court in Linfen, where he was attempting to file an appeal for the Linfen Church case on July 12. The incident marked one of the first times a defending lawyer was barred from his clients’ court. Zhang Kai was encouraged to meet with the U.S. Ambassador following these events (See more details).

“I was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and I went and met with Ambassador Jon Huntsman this morning,” Attorney Zhang reported on Friday, July 16. “Since I had met him once before, the meeting went very well, and we had a pleasant conversation.”
Attorney Zhang said the Ambassador was attentive, and shared his regrets for the incident. “He was deeply concerned about why I was blocked by Chinese government at Beijing airport on July 4, when I was passing through customs for a trip to the U.S. for professional legal-training.”

Zhang Kai related the second incident, and his inability to file the appeal in his client’s case, an event Ambassador Huntsman remarked was a “regretful yet confusing incident.”

“He said he will try his best to help,” said Zhang. “Afterward, he also asked about the situation of my job as a human rights lawyer. I briefly introduced the general situation of house churches in China, giving details with specific serious persecution.”
Zhang Kai shared the cases of Shanxi Linfen Church, Xinjiang Uyghur Christian church leader Alimujiang, and Beijing Shouwang church’s tough situation of buying a building for church use with the Ambassador.
In light of the meeting, Attorney Zhang remains positive about future contact and relations with the Ambassador. “At the end, Mr. Huntsman expressed his willingness to continue paying close attention to religious freedom in China and his desire to keep in touch with me for more frequent communications.”
Zhang Kai is thankful for the U.S. Ambassador’s willingness to meet, and is hopeful that more leaders representing countries around the world in Beijing will be open to meeting with him and other Chinese human rights lawyers in the future.
ChinaAid thanks Ambassador Huntsman for his concern for the condition of human rights defenders in Beijing. We pray that the U.S. Embassy and other embassies of the world will continue to meet with rights defense lawyers who face persecution regularly, and to boldly champion rule of law and human rights in China.


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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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Website: www.chinaaid.org

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