ChinaAid’s Bob Fu Calls for Course Change in US-China RelationsWednesday, January 19, 2011
China Aid Association
(Washington, DC—Jan. 19, 2010) On the day Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Washington for a state visit, ChinaAid president Bob Fu called for a course change in U.S.-China relations, refuting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statement that the two great powers are in the same boat.
“A regime that imprisons many people of faith in labor camps (and) in prisons in China should not be qualified to share the same boat with a democracy,” Fu said at a congressional press conference on Tuesday Jan. 18, just hours before Hu arrived in Washington for a four-day summit. (The full text of Bob Fu’s remarks is here.)
On Friday Jan. 14, Clinton said in a State Department speech, “There’s an old Chinese saying that if you are in the same boat, and you have to row in the same direction. We are in the same boat, and we will either the row in the same direction, or we will unfortunately cause turmoil and whirlpools.”
Gao, a Christian human rights lawyer, disappeared in April 2010 for the second time into government custody, where on previous occasions he was violently and repeatedly subjected to degrading, painful and prolonged acts of torture. Chen, a blind Christian legal activist, is under house arrest after serving a prison sentence for defending the legal rights of victims of government persecution. Hu is serving a three-and-a-half year sentence for helping AIDS victims and championing environmental protection.
But, Fu said, “It is time to change course. As long as Mr. Gao Zhisheng is still missing and brutally tortured for simply promoting human rights and rule of law, it is not appropriate to call that regime an equal partner in the same boat.”
Fu, who founded ChinaAid in 2002 to draw international attention to China's gross human rights violations against house church Christians, also sounded a note of warning.
“It is not too late to change course before we repeat what happened in the 1930s in Europe,” he said referring to pre-World War II Germany when the Nazis were growing in influence. “I understand that economics and security are all important issues.… Human rights and religious freedom should be treated as just as important as economic and other interests.”
One of the highlights of Hu’s visit is the Wednesday Jan. 19 state dinner hosted by President Obama at the White House, the first time in 13 years that such an honor has been accorded a Chinese leader.
Speaking at the same Tuesday press conference as Fu, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said, “The Chinese government has done little in the past 13 years, almost nothing quite frankly, to deserve the honor of a White House state dinner.”
Wolf, one of Congress’ most vocal advocates of human rights worldwide, called on Obama not only to raise human rights and religious freedom issues in his talks with Hu but also to “ensure that the administration’s words are followed by live actions here in Washington, (and) also in Beijing.” He emphasized the importance of American leaders speaking out publicly against human rights abuses, noting that “many (victims) have said, when they raised their case publicly, it made a tremendous difference.”
Wolf added, “There’s an obligation and a requirement that it not only be said privately, where nobody can hear, but publicly, so the world can see.”
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who organized the Tuesday press conference, also referred to Obama’s obligation, as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to “publicly and vigorously” call for the release of fellow Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who was the 2010 peace prize winner. China refused to allow Liu, or any of his family or friends, to attend the award ceremony last month.
Noting the “strong bond” shared by peace laureates, who all understand “that the world’s prestigious award confers an obligation on them,” Smith said, “The idea that (one of them) could meet personally meet with and throw a White House state dinner for a political leader responsible for jailing another laureate and not demand publicly for their fellow laureate’s release would be something absolutely unthinkable.”
Smith, a longtime champion of human rights worldwide, wanted to focus attention on “China’s abysmal human rights record” and gathered Fu and six other Chinese dissidents and leaders of organizations dealing with Chinese human rights issues to talk about “human rights in Hu Jintao’s China,” including Gao’s wife, Geng He.
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