China Aid Association
(Beijing – Aug. 20, 2011) U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has raised human rights concerns with Chinese leaders during his visit to Beijing this week, but no details were available about the specifics of what he said.
The wire service Agence France Presse reported Saturday from Beijing that “Biden did raise human rights concerns during his meetings with Chinese leaders,” but said that “US officials … refused to go into details of whether any individual cases were brought up.”
Biden held talks on Friday with Premier Wen Jiabao that were focused mainly on economic issues.
In Washington Friday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson was asked specifically about whether Biden would raise the case of missing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “We’ve repeatedly raised our concerns about Mr. Gao’s whereabouts and well-being with the Chinese Government, and we’ve expressed our deep concern about the reports that he may have been tortured by security officials.” But she did not say whether Biden would bring up Gao’s case, or that of any other dissidents or other persecuted Chinese citizens.
This is the full exchange on Biden’s visit and human rights from the State Department briefing:
The Chinese human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng … has been illegally detained by the Chinese Communist Party since 2006, and he’s supposed to be set free on August the 15th this year. But still, he’s in forced disappearance and nobody knows his whereabouts. And recently, his wife is calling for the Vice President Biden to raise this case during his trip to Beijing. So have you contacted with Beijing recently regarding this case, and do you have any updates on that?
Well, let me take this opportunity to again urge the Chinese Government to ensure that Gao Zhisheng is immediately released from custody and to clarify the details surrounding his case and his whereabouts. You know that the protection of human rights is a central part of President Obama’s foreign policy, both in China and elsewhere.
Vice President Biden will raise our concerns about the human rights situation throughout China on this visit, as we consistently do. We’ve repeatedly raised our concerns about Mr. Gao’s whereabouts and well-being with the Chinese Government, and we’ve expressed our deep concern about the reports that he may have been tortured by security officials.
Do you expect the Vice President to raise this case specifically by name or other name — will — does he have a list of people who you’re concerned about that he’s going to tick off as he meets with…
I think he will certainly talk about human rights in general. With regard to how he plans to handle that, I would refer you to his folks.
Just to follow quick on China, as far as human rights or freedom of the press or religious freedom and among others, you have been talking with Chinese officials in Beijing or here in Washington on these issues. But over the years, the situation had been worsening other than improving. So what does that tell you? I mean, what’s the future of these innocent people who have been crushed inside China?
I don’t — the United States will continue to make its views known on the human rights situation in China. Every administration, for the last decade or more, has taken this position and has used its high-level meetings with Chinese officials to talk about human rights, and we will continue to do so.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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