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UCA News: Rights take back seat during US-China dialogue

Thursday, June 25, 2015

UCA News reporter, Beijing
June 25, 2015

Talks focus on pressing issues including tensions in the South China Sea

The United States has paid minor attention to China’s rights problems during high-level dialogue ending in Washington, DC on Wednesday, rights groups said.

With talks focusing on pressing issues including tensions in the South China Sea, the US side headed by Secretary of State John Kerry made few public references to China’s rights situation as it remained unclear what was discussed in private.

Before the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, nine rights groups including China Aid and International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) wrote a letter to the US government calling for rights to be fully addressed with visiting Chinese officials.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Chinese Vice
Premier Wang Yang (left) participate in closing statements on
June 24 at the Department of State in Washington, DC
(Alex Wong/ Getty Images/ AFP Photo)

“We are receiving reports that human rights concerns were not raised by the United States as strongly as we had hoped,” ICT’s President Matteo Mecacci told last night.

The letter urged US officials to raise cases such as underground Pastor Yang Rongli, sentenced to seven years in prison in 2009 for “disturbing public order”, and to report publicly about rights discussions with Chinese officials.

In his closing address yesterday, Kerry said he had asked questions about China’s rights record during three days of meetings covering everything from the environment to cyber-security, without giving details.

“It is important for the US to respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” responded China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang sitting alongside Kerry. “In advancing human rights, China’s achievements are there for all to see.”

At the end of the opening day of talks on Monday, a senior State Department official said the US was seeking a “basis for better communication” on freedom issues.

Since Xi Jinping became president in March of 2013, rights groups have complained of rising intolerance of house churches, the removal of hundreds of crosses in Zhejiang province and growing persecution of Muslims in restive Xinjiang.

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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985

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