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. CECC becomes an even more important barometer of coherence and fracture in policy approaches as the discipline of activities between the political parties and the President and Legislature fractures in new and dynamic ways. 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, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).
This month the CECC has released its Congressional-Executive Commission on China Annual Report 2018 (The Press Release HERE and following below). The 2018 Annual Report may be accessed HERE (pdf).
The CECC has also intensified its attention to a critical consideration of Chinese policies toward its autonomous regions, and its treatment of religion (in general) and religious minorities (specifically). CECC leaders coordinated the announcement of the release of the 2018 Report with three other actions that are particularly noteworthy:
1. The Chairs released a letter asking the FBI to report on how it addresses “unacceptable” intimidation and threats targeting Chinese, Uyghur, and Tibetan diaspora communities living in the United States (Letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray).The material is rich with possibility. Ironically, some of the measures advocated would bring the United States much closer to adopting (and hardening) the mechanisms of the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights in both its 1st Pillar (State Duty) and 2nd Pillar (Corporate Responsibility) aspects. But of course it is meant to do more than that. It would align the work of the United States to that of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Special Rapporteurs even as the United States formally pulls out of the Human Rights Council. More importantly, it would further expand the use of the "targeted action mechanisms" represented by the Global Magnitsky Act (see here) now extended in a way that would make the United States the global protector of a neutrality based approach to human rights that reflects the evolving American jurisprudence of its Constitution's protection of the "Free Exercise" of religion and internationalizes those jurisprudential approaches, standards and principles.
2. The Chairs released a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach urging him “to take steps to reassign” the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing (Letter to Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, on 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics).
3. The Chairs released the text of a Xinjiang Uyghur Human Rights Act of 2018 (the text of which follows below).
One last point:While the human rights orientation of the CECC interventions would appear to run counter to Administration policies and preferences, it would be a mistake to think that there is policy dissonance in fact. In the past the CECC has tended to chart a course that was autonomous of the policies and objectives of Presidential Administrations. Yet now there appears to be a measure of coordination between CECC and the Trump Administration that one might not have noticed before. It may be necessary to read this intervention by the CECC as (in part) continuing the arc of the agenda that CECC has been forging autonomously for several years) but also that this arc has now been harassed int he service of the current efforts to strike a new grand bargain with China. To that end, these interventions ought to be read against both Vice President Pence's speech at the Hudson Institute (Underlining the Obvious: Remarks by Vice President Pence on the Administration’s Policy Toward China), and President Trump's U.N. speech ("America First," "Belt and Road," "Mutually Advantageous Cooperation" and the Rise of the Global South: Preliminary Thoughts on Remarks by President Trump to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (25 September 2018)).
The CECC Press Release, Letters to the FBI and the International Olympic Committee and the text of the Xinjiang Uyghur Human Rights Act of 2018 follow.
PRESS RELEASE CECC: