The 18th US-China Human Rights Dialogue was held in Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan Province, over July 30-31, with Washington especially raising the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang. The US delegation, led by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeya, told the Chinese government that policies that “stifle dissent and tighten controls” in Tibet are “counterproductive” and urged reengagement in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama without preconditions.
A press briefing from the US Embassy in Beijing quoted Zeya as saying, “We also expressed deep concern about China’s stepped-up attempts to silence dissent and tighten controls over Tibetans and Uighurs, emphasizing that policies ostensibly designed to maintain stability are counterproductive when they deny Chinese citizens their universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Zeya has said the US side also raised specific cases of individuals who are imprisoned, detained or under house arrest, including Chinese activists Xu Zhiyong, Gao Zhisheng and Ni Yulan; several Tibetan, Uighur, and Mongolian activists; as well as Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife. Zeya said the Americans were able to get some information on these cases but did not reveal details.
Zeya’s team had also called into question the pattern of arrests and extralegal detentions of China’s public interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who had challenged official policies and actions in China. “We know that such actions are contrary to China’s international obligation and indeed in most cases China’s own laws and constitution,” AP Aug 2 quoted Zeya as saying.
It was not clear what the response was from the Chinese side, which was led by Li Junhua, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organizations and Conferences and a former ambassador to Myanmar. The AP report quoted Zeya as saying the dialogue “overall fell short of our expectations.”
Earlier, China’s official China Daily newspaper Jul 30 indicated that Beijing would deliver a robust rebuff to any US criticism during the dialogue. It noted that the issue of human rights was also mentioned at the 5th US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington earlier in the month. It added that in his concluding remarks, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said the US had expressed its concerns about human rights in China, mentioning incidents in the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions. And it then emphasized, “The Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi retorted that people in various regions in China – including Xinjiang and Tibet – were “enjoying unprecedented freedoms and human rights”.
The report further quoted Yang as having said, “We hope the US side will view China’s economic and social development in an objective way, and we hope the US will improve its own human rights situation on the basis of mutual respect and non-intervention in each other’s internal affairs.”
The report said the two countries started their human rights dialogue in 1990, and that the talks were suspended from 2002 to 2008 after the US decided to introduce a human rights motion related to China at a session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (now UN Human Rights Council). To China such an action by the US destroyed the foundation for dialogue.
An editorial posted on a news website run by the information office of China’s State Council, or cabinet, during the US-China Human Rights Dialogue predicted no substantial progress from the dialogue and no change in the status quo, noted the AP report. It quoted the editorial as saying, “A real human rights dialogue should be based on mutual trust and respect, and only such human rights dialogues would be meaningful and effective.”
(TibetanReview.net, Aug03, 2013)
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