WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, at 11 a.m. Bob Fu, President and Founder of ChinaAid, spoke at a press conference at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. regarding U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s controversial remarks over the past week indicating a retreat on the priority of human rights issues in U.S.-China relations.
Traveling to China last weekend, Clinton met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders, while failing to meet with dissidents during her stay. She has been criticized by human rights groups for publically announcing that U.S. concerns about human rights abuses in China must not interfere with cooperation on the economic crisis, global warming and other issues.
Also present at the press conference were former Chinese political prisoners Wei Jingsheng, Harry Wu, and Rebiya Kadeer; Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China, as well as other Chinese human rights activists. Congressman Christopher Smith (NJ-4th), GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (IN-6th),Congressmen Frank Wolf (VA-10th) and Joe Pitts (PA-16th), leading human rights advocates in Congress, hosted the press conference.
The following are Bob Fu’s prepared remarks for the press conference:
Thank you, Congressmen Chris Smith, Joe Pitts, Frank Wolf, and Mike Pence, for your leadership in hosting this discussion, and thank you, my co-panelists, for your insights and continued sacrifices for freedom in China.
Sometimes challenging circumstances can force us to search for resources we may have not yet noticed. It is clear that the U.S. and China share some challenging circumstances right now. Among other issues, we share security crises, economic crises, and environmental crises. Yet it is distressing that during her visit to China, Secretary Clinton seemed to discount a primary “resource” for stability and overcoming crises: China’s own people – not just the ruling elite but the minorities, the house church Christians, the human rights defense lawyers, others. Perhaps sometimes they seem like “small potatoes”; yet, the small potatoes are often the best seed for the next crop.
We want to look beyond the immediate to the future – the next generation: who in China is building a strong foundation of justice, rule of law of Nature and of Nature’s God, and “inalienable rights”? How can we support these rebuilders; these people of vision, hope, and change?
The State Department’s Human Rights Report was released yesterday. It reported human rights conditions in China deteriorated in 2008. ChinaAid’s 2008 annual persecution report (available at ChinaAid.org) also reports increased persecution for house church Christians. The hand of the Chinese government seems open to U.S. T-bills, while showing a fist to its own people. We do not need to be afraid to press human rights issues: if the Chinese government’s fist is closed to input now, we can go directly to the people within China; people whose hands are open to receive help, advice, encouragement, and support. In fact, they are the best investment for promoting China as friend and partner in years to come. I think it seems wiser than empowering a brutal regime.
A nominee for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize has been missing for three weeks now after being kidnapped from his home – human rights defense lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Perhaps some of his words did not sit well with the Communist Party, but if they did have a legitimate right in their path of torturous treatment, they would have no fear of this man, or of his colleague Guo Feixiong who is serving 5-year sentence because he promoted rule of law. In justice is strength.
Do not think history will look only at the response of the Secretary of State, or this Administration, or Congress, to place responsibility for the U.S. condoning tolerance of China’s human rights abuses: it is the responsibility of the people of the United States. I call upon my fellow citizens in the U.S, to support life and justice in China with your vote, your checkbook, your phone call to your government representatives and within your sphere of influence. I ask this on behalf of my brothers and sisters in China – many of whom risk life and freedom simply to meet together. Many who have lost freedom, are now imprisoned, and look for our help.
Alimujiang Yimiti is a minority of a minority; he is a Christian Uyghur. Though he could be well-positioned to facilitate understanding between two distinct cultures, instead he has been in prison for more than a year – but he has not yet been convicted of any crime. Wusiman Yiming and Lou Yuanqi – both are also imprisoned, and so is businessman Shi Weihan. We learned the basic reason these four men are imprisoned is because they are Christians and engaged in Christian activities. This is not good investment of the Chinese justice system, or promotion of a harmonious civil society.
While Secretary Clinton was visiting in China, Christians were sitting in their cold prison cells and working in labor camps around the clock. What message were they expecting her to deliver from the leader of the free world? At the very least, they expected her to say, “Brothers and sisters, we are with you while you are suffering."
The Secretary is quoted as saying that the U.S. and China “will rise and fall together.” This is an interesting thought. Will we fall with a deceptive regime who continues to terrorize innocent citizens, while we try to find temporary cooperation on this or that issue? Or will we rise with a nation with whom we promote human rights as part of holistic dialogue?