US lawmakers press China on human rights

China Aid Association

US lawmakers press China on human rights
By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer

Members of Congress said Wednesday they want China held to account
for promises to protect human rights, press freedom and the environment
that were made when Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics.

They said the United States will watch closely to see how China
responds to outside calls for change as the August games approach. Many
lawmakers appeared deeply skeptical that China’s pledges were sincere
or that changes would last beyond the Olympics.

“We expect the Chinese government to keep its word,” Sen. Byron
Dorgan, D-N.D., said during a meeting of the Congressional-Executive
Commission on China. Congress created the commission in 2000 to monitor
China’s respect for civil liberties.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said “the Olympics will certainly not be a
time to remain silent.” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said the games could
provide “key leverage” for the U.S. to push for greater freedoms in

For years, critics in Congress have taken China to task for what
they describe as unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, use of
the Internet to suppress dissidents, failure to use its leverage to
stop violence in Sudan’s Darfur region, and a secretive military

China hopes a successful Olympics will signal its emergence as a
world power. The games’ approach has focused intense international and
congressional attention on what human rights groups say is Beijing’s
oppression of religious freedom, minorities, the media and government

China’s communist leaders have cracked down on dissent ahead of the
Olympics. Several lawmakers mentioned the case of activist Hu Jia, who
was taken from his home in December and charged with inciting

China and the U.S. agreed this week to resume a human rights
dialogue that China stopped in 2004, when the Bush administration
unsuccessfully sponsored a resolution before the U.N. Human Rights
Commission to censure China.

China Aid Contacts
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