US Congressional Panel Advances Rights Measure Linked to Olympics
A resolution calling on China's government to end human rights abuses, cut links with brutal governments, and end media restrictions has moved ahead in the U.S. Congress. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, action by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee is designed to put pressure on China ahead of the 2008 Olympics.
The resolution calls on China to immediately end abuses of the human rights of its citizens, including what it calls repression of Tibetan and Uighur people in China.
Although it is non-binding and will not carry the force of law when it passes the full House next week as expected, it also takes Beijing to task for its support of two widely-criticized governments in Burma and Sudan.
Lawmakers expressed discomfort with President Bush's decision to attend the Olympics, including the opening ceremony.
"The situation in Tibet and the support for the PRC for those regimes in Myanmar [Burma] and of course its horrendous policy in Sudan, that it is a shame that our president has decided to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I think it was an opportunity, by saying you can get by without boycotting the Olympics but just don't attend the opening ceremonies. President Bush felt that it was important, said he didn't want to anger the Chinese, so he is going," said New Jersey Democrat Donald Payne.
President Bush, the resolution says, should make a strong public statement on China's human rights situation before leaving for Beijing, and similar statement while in China, and should meet families of jailed prisoners of conscience.
Democrat Brad Sherman asserted that U.S. business interests in China are a main reason behind the president's decision to attend. "Why is the president making this statement? Because he finds it important to kow-tow to the Chinese regime. He finds it important to ignore their currency manipulation, and trade practices, their human rights abuses. Why? Because there is big money in imports, and big power in big money," he said.
Two provisions call on China to abandon its coercive population control policy, including forced abortion, and urge the release of political prisoners.
Republican Chris Smith spoke during a separate House hearing this week focusing on conditions in China on the eve of the Olympics. "Anyone who watches the Olympics should keep in mind that every Chinese young person dancing and waving flags in the opening ceremonies pageantry, and virtually every athlete we will watch from China, is a survivor of the brutal one child per couple policy which has made brothers and sisters illegal through harsh, coercive methods including forced abortion to achieve its quotas and goals. That is the nature of the government," he said.
The measure calls on China to end what is called detention, harassment, and intimidation of foreign and domestic reporters, and to guarantee freedom of movement for journalists, participants and visitors including permission to visit Tibet, Xinjiang and other areas.
It also urges China to guarantee access to information, including domestic and foreign broadcasts, print media and websites that have been blocked or censored in the past.
Lawmakers demand that China end political, economic and military support for Burma's military government until it restores democracy, ends human rights abuses and frees democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners.
A similar provision calls for China to end support for the Khartoum government, until violent attacks in Darfur end and the Khartoum government allows for full deployment of the United Nations-African Union Mission peacekeeping force in Darfur.
By Dan Robinson