Friday, June 03, 2016

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC): Bipartisan Congressional Letter To Chinese President Xi Jinping Marks 27th Anniversary of Tiananmen Protests & Massacre

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) tends to be a good barometer of legislative thinking about China in the United States. Not that this thinking is either coherent or well directed. But it does represent the way in which U.S. "China expert" elites and their legislative masters develop "knowledge" about China. This knowledge is then used to shape U.S. policy and legislative approaches U.S. China relations. It also suggests the way that U.S. ideological thinking shapes the way in which China is viewed as understood by the United States.

This characterization is not meant to suggest a personal position on either the outlook or work of the CECC, or of its advisers. That characterization, however, does suggest that ideological blinders tend to tell us more about the U.S. (in this case) than it does about the Chinese. But if course the same is true of Chinese organs with a similar purpose aimed the the United States. It is with the object of helping to understanding American construction of China, rather than of helping to understand Chinese constructions of themselves (however "flawed" either exercise may be in and of itself and to itself), that this is offered.

Given the focus of CECC it comes as no surprise that CECC would provide the American people, and as their representative, the Chinese government, with reflections on the events of June 1989 centered on Tiananmen in Beijing. To that end, CECC has just published its 2016 Bipartisan Congressional Letter To Chinese President Xi Jinping Marks 27th Anniversary of Tiananmen Protests & Massacre. It provides an excellent reflection of the analytical framework from out of which the US tends to consider Chinese political structures and the direction of their "reform," as well as the underlying political principles through which such analysis and objectives are applied.

Bipartisan Congressional Letter To Chinese President Xi Jinping Marks 27th Anniversary of Tiananmen Protests & Massacre;
 CECC Commissioners Say Transparency About 1989 Events Will “Reap Benefits” For China’s Global Image & U.S.-China Relations

(Washington DC)—On the eve of the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) urged the Chinese President to lift restrictions on public discussion of Tiananmen, end reprisals against former student leaders and those seeking information about missing family members, and release individuals detained for commemorating the June 4 anniversary. The letter was signed by CECC Chairman, Representative Chris Smith, CECC Cochair, Senator Marco Rubio, and CECC Commissioners Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Ben Sasse, Representative Timothy Walz, Representative Randy Hultgren and Representative Marcy Kaptur.

The CECC was created by Congress in October 2000 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. Members of the Commission include Representatives and Senators from both parties, along with senior officials in the Executive Branch, representing the Department of State, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Commerce.

The full text of the letter is included below:

June 2, 2016
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China

Dear President Xi:

We write as members of the bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on the 27th anniversary of the violent suppression of nationwide protests that started in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. These events and the ongoing prohibition of public and online discussion of what transpired on June 4, 1989 have done more to negatively shape global perceptions of the Chinese government than almost anything else in your country’s recent history.

It has been reported that the last known prisoner, Miao Deshun, sentenced for participating in the Tiananmen protests will be released later this year after having spent more than half of his life behind bars. This event offers your government an opportunity to open public space for discussion and commemoration of the tragic and historic events of 1989.

In addition to allowing uncensored, public discussion of the Tiananmen protests and the government’s response, we ask that you end efforts to retaliate against those who participated in the protests, particularly the former student leaders and those, such as the Tiananmen Mothers group, seeking information about family members who died or disappeared on or after June 3-4, 1989.

We are also gravely concerned about those who remain imprisoned or detained in connection with their attempts to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests, including Yu Shiwen who himself took part in protests in 1989 and who is reportedly in poor health having suffered a stroke in detention and others such as Chen Wei, Chen Yunfei, Chen Xi (Chen Youcai), Liu Shaoming, Sheng Guan (Xu Zhiqiang), Tang Jingling, Wang Qingying, and Yuan Xinting (Yuan Chaoyang). We urge their immediate and unconditional release.

The spirit of the 1989 protests, the sacrifices made by the protestors, and their peaceful demands for reform and universally recognized freedoms continue to inspire international admiration and respect. Those students and others who, to this day, cling to the goals embodied by those events more than 25 years ago, should be celebrated, not imprisoned and persecuted. For it is they who are the true Chinese patriots who wish nothing more for their fellow citizens than the freedom to live their lives as they see fit.

We solemnly commemorate the Tiananmen massacre each year because of the lives lost and persons permanently injured, because of the profound impact the event has had on U.S.-China relations, because so many former student leaders have made important and lasting contributions to global understanding of China, and because the Chinese people themselves are unable to mark this event.

We make the above requests respectfully in the spirit of improving U.S.-China relations. Greater transparency and better adherence to international rule of law standards are the keys to advancing a range of mutual bilateral interests from fighting corruption to building investor confidence, from food safety to greater security in the Pacific. We believe an honest accounting of the events of 1989 will reap domestic and global benefits for the Chinese government and the Chinese people.

We thank you for considering our request.

Chris Smith Marco Rubio
Chair Co-Chair

Tom Cotton Ben Sasse
U.S. Senator U.S. Senator

Timothy Walz Randy Hultgren
U.S. Representative U.S. Representative

Marcy Kaptur
U.S. Representative

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