Thursday, September 17, 2015

Politics and Contradiction: CECC To Highlight Prisoners of Conscience Cases in Advance of President Xi Jinping's Visit

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. They have developed positions on a number of issues: Access to Justice; Civil Society;Commercial Rule of Law; Criminal Justice; Developments in Hong Kong and Macau ; The Environment ; Ethnic Minority Rights;Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Religion ; Freedom of Residence and Movement ; Human Trafficking ; Institutions of Democratic Governance ; North Korean Refugees in China; Population Planning ; Public Health ; Status of Women ; Tibet ; Worker Rights ; and Xinjiang.

CECC tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elites in the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China. As one can imagine many of the positions of the CECC are critical of current Chinese policies and institutions (see, e.g., here, here, here here, and here).

In the run up the the state visit of Xi Jinping to the United States, the CECC has announced  activities that focus on its current critical line toward Chinese policies.  They are meant to draw attention to these issues as the U.S. media attention is drawn to the Chinese state visit. To that end, its leaders, including Marco Rubio, an individual seeking nomination to stand as the representative of the Republican Party for President, have issued a press release announcing hearings  on te recent detention of Chinese lawyers.  The press release can be accessed here.In addition, CECC also announced plans to draw attention to the issue of political detentions during the state visit of Xi Jinping.   The press release--evidencing the importance of both internal and external politics around this significant issue--follows. It is particularly significant as it is commenced even as the United States and China seek to finalize a bi lateral trade agreement within the context of the United States led push to create a trade zone around China (see here).


CECC To Highlight Prisoners of Conscience Cases in Advance of President Xi Jinping's Visit

Contact: Scott Flipse

WASHINGTON, DC (September 15, 2015) -Representative Chris Smith and Senator Marco Rubio-chair and cochair, respectively, of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)-announced today the "Free China's Heroes<>" initiative to highlight representative cases of individuals who are imprisoned, detained, or disappeared in China. (#FreeChinasHeroes) These cases, among many others, deserve to be raised during the state visit of Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping later this month.

In its forthcoming Annual Report, scheduled for release in early October, the CECC documents the Chinese government and Communist Party's efforts to silence dissent, suppress human rights advocacy, and control civil society-efforts that are broader in scope than any other period documented since the Commission started issuing Annual Reports in 2002. In highlighting various cases, the CECC intends to publicize the human toll of the Chinese government's crackdown on human rights and those who defend them.

All of the cases featured in this campaign are also part of the Commission's Political Prisoner Database (PPD)< ; which contains records on more than 1,300 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned. The Commission treats a "political prisoner" as an individual detained for exercising his or her human rights under international law, such as peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and free expression, including the freedom to advocate peaceful social or political change and to criticize government policy or government officials. In most cases, prisoners in the PPD were detained or imprisoned for attempting to exercise rights guaranteed to them by China's Constitution and law, by international law, or both.

"It has been another brutal year for China's advocates of freedom and human rights. The men and women we highlight are the human face of persecution in China. We want to send the message that the imprisonment of rights advocates, lawyers, and religious people is unnecessary, unjust, and completely counterproductive," said CECC Chair Congressman Chris Smith. "The hard won truth of history is that stability and prosperity can only be maintained through the advance of liberty, transparency, and the protection of fundamental human rights. China's attention to this truth is a critical interest of U.S. foreign policy and stronger U.S.-China relations. These cases must be raised during the upcoming visit by President Xi and their freedom should be pursued as a prominent outcome. In highlighting these cases, we also want to send the message to China's prisoners of conscience and their families, that the Congress has not forgotten about them and we will not be silent until they are released."

"As the Obama White House prepares to roll out the red carpet for President Xi, we must not forget the men, women, and juveniles who languish unjustly in dark prison cells, the family members who do not know the fate of their loved ones, and the professionals who have disappeared for daring to do their job," said CECC Cochair Senator Marco Rubio." These cases are not mere statistics, rather they are professors and pastors, writers, and lawyers whose 'offenses' are varied but whose plight is shared. While recognizing the broad scope of U.S-China bilateral relations, it is simply unconscionable for President Xi to get a pass on human rights. We have an obligation to speak truth to power and demand their immediate and unconditional release."


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