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Experts urge US to engage China in human rights

August 7, 2010

Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
August 5, 2010

Dharamshala -- A panel of human rights and legal
experts have asked the US government to
strengthen their efforts to engage China in
improving its human rights situation and rule of
law, which the panel said has "stalled or
suffered reversal" with the crackdown on critics and ethnic minorities.

The panelists briefed the Congressional-Executive
Commission on China "Political Prisoners in
China: Trends and Implications for US Policy" at
Dirksen Senate Office Building on 3 August. (View
a recorded video of this hearing
<http://www.cecc.gov/pages/hearings/2010/20100803/hearingwebcast20100803.php>)

"Roughly since the beginning of 2008, there has
been a palpable sense that earlier progress
toward rule of law in China has stalled, or even
suffered a reversal," Reuters quoted researcher
Joshua Rosenzweig of the Dui Hua Foundation as saying.

"There is mounting evidence that a crackdown is
under way, one particularly targeting members of
ethnic minorities, government critics and rights defenders," he told the panel.

The Dui Hua Foundation, which works to win
medical parole or early release for political
prisoners, has compiled a list of 5,800 people
imprisoned in China for nonviolent expression of
religious and political beliefs, Rosenzweig said.

The Chinese legal system's lack of transparency
prevents a full tally of the political prisoners,
but available statistics show a "troubling trend"
that the crackdown has targeted not only
political activists but the lawyers who defend
them, said Jerome Cohen of the New York University School of Law.

The experts told the panel that Washington should
turn what are now annual human rights talks with
Beijing at least twice a year, raise the rank of
officials participating and raise specific
prisoners' cases rather than engage in the
abstract discussions the Chinese have preferred to date.

Other panelists were Wan Yanhai, Director of
Beijing Aizhixing Institute, expert on HIV/AIDS,
human rights and civil society in China, and
Sophie Richardson, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China,
a panel comprised of US lawmakers and senior
administration officials, was set up in 2000
under legislation accompanying China's entry into the World Trade Organisation.

The Commission issued a special report titled
Special Topic Paper: "Tibet 2008-2009 on 22
October 2009." The report provides expanded
coverage and in-depth analysis of key
developments and trends in Tibet during the
peaceful protests and builds on the Commission's 2009 Annual Report.

The report said in March 2008 the Tibetan people
expressed their rejection of Chinese government
policy and official campaigns to "educate"
Tibetans about their obligations to conform to
policy and law that Tibetans believe harm their cultural identity and heritage.
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