Lawmakers hoping Bush stands firm on Chinese repression

WASHINGTON – The agenda is lengthy, the time is short, and U.S. leaders long have felt they have had limited success in moving China to respect the rights of its citizens.

The White House says President Bush will make the effort anew in his talks with President Hu Jintao today. Members of Congress are impatient, wanting action and skeptical that much will be accomplished.

“Hope remains eternal that the president will raise this issue robustly,” said Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., after his House International Relations subcommittee on human rights heard witnesses criticize China’s record.

Sens. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., wrote Bush on Wednesday saying “there has been an unfortunate backsliding in China’s human rights record in recent years.”

They cited a State Department report in 2005 about “a trend toward increased harassment, detention and imprisonment by government and security authorities of those perceived as threatening to government authority.”

Human Rights Watch, a private watchdog group, urged Bush in a letter last week to raise a half-dozen issues with Hu. They included China’s increased restrictions on free expression, torture of detainees and its judicial system, which does not respect the right of due process for criminal suspects, said Sophie Richardson, deputy director of the group’s Asia division.

The organization also cited Beijing’s restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, harassment of human rights activists and abuse of petitioners.

“We are concerned human rights issues have not been given the priority in discussions with China that we would like,” she said Wednesday.

Dennis Wilder, a China specialist at Bush’s National Security Council, told reporters in a briefing on Hu’s visit that Bush “will continue to make the point to President Hu that they cannot let their population increasingly experience the freedom to buy, sell and produce while denying them the right to assemble, speak and worship as they choose.”

Wilder described the Bush-Hu relationship as a strong one – the leaders met five times last year – and he complimented China for fighting terror and disease.

China’s economy is growing so fast it is now the third largest U.S. trading partner. Wilder said it was unfortunate that political freedoms lagged economic ones.

Bush is looking for help from Hu as the U.N. Security Council prepares to take up Iran’s nuclear programs. Negotiations with North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons production remain stalemated.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said the council should consider “strong steps” to pressure Iran. China’s support would be essential if the U.S. and the Europeans tried to impose political or economic penalties against Iran.

China also plays the leading role in talks with North Korea.

Feingold and Brownback told Bush that the expanding Chinese economy has become a tool for repression. “Chinese authorities have grown increasingly adept at using the tools of technology to repress free expression and dissent,” they said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Emergency responders surround an ultralight airplane that crashed Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington, resulting in the pilot's death. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Pilot dead in ultralight plane crash at Arlington Municipal Airport

There were no other injuries or fatalities reported, a city spokesperson said.

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

A person walks in the rain at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
First heavy rain event predicted Sunday night for Snohomish County

Starting Sunday evening, 1 to 1½ inches of rain is expected in western Washington. It marks the end of fire season, meteorologists said.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Clinton man, 61, dies in motorcycle crash Friday

Washington State Patrol lists speed as the cause. No other people or vehicles were involved.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

Most Read