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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Reduce tensions in Tibet, US urges China during bilateral human rights dialogue

August 17, 2015

RTT News, August 14, 2015 - During the 19th round of the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, the United States condemned the Chinese Government's crackdown on lawyers, and called for the immediate release of lawyers still being held and charged with crimes.

Over 250 attorneys, activists, and their family members are being detained, questioned, interrogated, or held incommunicado in China. While most have been released, many are still in custody many reportedly have been denied access to defense counsel. Some have been forced to make televised confessions.

At a Special Briefing on the Human Rights Dialogue, Tom Malinowski, US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said these actions run contrary to China's own criminal procedure law.

Malinowski said the US delegation also pointed out that launching such a widespread attack against the legal profession threatens one of the few conduits Chinese citizens have for peaceful redress of grievances, whether they are concerned about corruption or environmental problems or property rights or any other issue.

The US Government also conveyed its deep concern that China's recently passed and ambiguously worded national security law may be used as a legal facade to justify further crackdowns on peaceful expression. Pending NGO, counterterrorism, and cyber laws, all of which suffer from similar problems, were also discussed. Malinowski said the US is particularly concerned about the expansiveness of the draft NGO law, which appears to apply to all foreign non-governmental entities, placing them under the authority of China's ministry of public security, and applying criminal sanctions to ordinary acts that are fundamentally not criminal in character. Enactment of this law in its current form would have profoundly negative effects on the engagement of a wide range of American and other international non-governmental actors in China, according to him.

The US side pressed for the release of Gao Yu, a 71-year-old journalist who is in poor health. Washington also highlighted its strong interest in China committing to timely and predictable adjudication of journalist and academic visas and fair and equitable treatment for U.S. news outlets operating in China.

Malinowski said US raised its concerns about the government's recent campaign to remove crosses and demolish Christian churches in Zhejiang province and other regions.

It has been suggested that China could reduce tensions in Tibetan areas by renewing dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives and by respecting the religious practices of Tibetan Buddhists, like their ability to select reincarnate lamas or to handle the deceased with proper rituals. The US side also urged greater access to Tibetan areas by diplomats and journalists on the basis of reciprocity.

Malinowski led an interagency delegation that included representatives from the White House, the Department of Commerce, Justice, the Environmental Protection Agencies - Agency, and several bureaus here at the State Department. Li Junhua, the director general of the international organization's department in the Chinese foreign ministry, led the Chinese side. The Chinese delegation included representatives from a wide range of Chinese Government agencies.

by RTT Staff Writer

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