Thursday, November 12, 2009

Talking to China

President Obama visits China today. The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration plans to focus talks on the economy, both China's booming development and the financial recovery of the US.

The environment and human rights are mentions within the meeting. Visiting Japan this week, Obama referenced the wrongful imprisonment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, though the situation's application to Japan seems fairly unconnected.

It appears that strengthening ties with China will come at the expense of voicing concern over China's continuous violations of human rights. Here are 3 areas that Obama should address in his talks with China -

(1) Repression of Minority Groups: 9 Uighurs were executed in China this month in response to the July riots over the racism faced by the ethnic minority in Northern China. Abuse, unjustified imprisonment and violations of rights for Tibetans, Mongolains and Falun Gong practitioners remain informally sanctioned by the Chinese government

(2) Imprisonment and "black/secret prisons" : Amnesty reports "an estimated 500,000 people are currently enduring punitive detention without charge or trial, and millions are unable to access the legal system to seek redress for their grievances." Additionally Human Rights Watch released a report this week on their findings on China's secret jails where, within formal detention centers, there are secret areas where prisoners are tortured. HRW also reported that men, women and teenagers face sexual abuse, intimidation, robbery and violence from prison guards in the prisons of China

(3) Violence towards human rights defenders and critics of the Chinese government: Harassment, surveillance, house arrest, and imprisonment are all routine procedure when the Chinese government deals with human rights defenders. In addition, bloggers and citizens who produce "dissident media" are under attack as censorship of the internet rapidly increases. In 2007 Yahoo, Cisco and Microsoft aided China's censorship of the internet and sold the government names of Chinese citizens who were searching or blogging about "anti-nationalist" topics.

The United States needs an international ally who not only offers economic power but also a progressive understanding freedom and rights for citizens. The US can not respect a nation that can not respect its citizens.

No comments:

Post a Comment