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US Senators Urge Sanctioning China

Senators Urge Sanctioning China on Human Rights Abuses

Press Release:
Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

Fri, 16 Feb 2001 13:50:30 -0500

Transcript: Senators Urge Sanctioning China on Human Rights Abuses (Measure calls on U.S. to introduce resolution in Geneva)

Twelve senators put forth a resolution in the Senate February 14 that would have the United States take up the issue of Chinese human rights abuses at the next meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva later this year.

Senator Tim Hutchinson (Republican of Arkansas) introduced Senate Resolution 22 (Sen. Res. 22), which calls on the United States to seek to have the UNCHR cite Beijing for its "wide-spread and well-documented human rights abuses in China and Tibet."

According to the resolution, the Chinese government "has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but has yet to take the steps necessary to make the treaty legally binding."

The United States should solicit co-sponsorship for a resolution "calling upon the Government of the People's Republic of China to end its human rights abuses in China and Tibet, in compliance with its international obligations," Sen. Res. 22 says.

In addition, the resolution says, the United States "should take the lead in organizing multilateral support to obtain passage by the Commission of such resolution."

Hutchinson said he understood that the Bush administration "is in the process of deciding whether to advance a resolution" at the United Nations meeting in Geneva.

"I hope that they will look to the Congress and understand that there is broad support for a Geneva resolution," Hutchinson said.

The Arkansas Republican recalled that when Congress passed Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status for China, supporters of PNTR said that passage of PNTR would not signify a diminished concern for human rights.

"I believe that now is the time to demonstrate this continuing concern for human rights," Hutchinson said. "I urge my colleagues to support this resolution."

Among the resolution's co-sponsors are Senator Jesse Helms (Republican of North Carolina), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Paul Wellstone (Democrat of Minnesota). The resolution was referred to Helms' committee.

Following is the text of the resolution and a transcript of Hutchinson's remarks from the Congressional Record:

(begin transcript)

SENATE RESOLUTION 22

URGING THE APPROPRIATE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO INTRODUCE AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE COMMISSION A RESOLUTION CALLING UPON THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA TO END ITS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CHINA AND TIBET, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

Senate February 14, 2001

Mr. HUTCHINSON (for himself, Mr. WELLSTONE, Mr. HELMS, Mr. TORRICELLI, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. DAYTON, Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire, Mr. KYL, Mr. SPECTER, Mr. FEINGOLD, Mr. HARKIN, and Mr. SANTORUM) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

S. Res. 22

Whereas the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, provides a forum for discussing human rights and expressing international support for improved human rights performance;

Whereas, according to the Department of State and international human rights organizations, the Government of the People's Republic of China continues to commit widespread and well-documented human rights abuses in China and Tibet;

Whereas the People's Republic of China has yet to demonstrate its willingness to abide by internationally accepted norms of freedom of belief, expression, and association by repealing or amending laws and decrees that restrict those freedoms;

Whereas the Government of the People's Republic of China continues to ban and criminalize groups it labels as cults or heretical organizations;

Whereas the Government of the People's Republic of China has repressed unregistered religious congregations and spiritual movements, including Falun Gong, and persists in persecuting persons on the basis of unauthorized religious activities using such measures as harassment, prolonged detention, physical abuse, incarceration, and closure or destruction of places of worship;

Whereas authorities in the People's Republic of China have continued their efforts to extinguish expressions of protest or criticism, have detained scores of citizens associated with attempts to organize a peaceful opposition, to expose corruption, to preserve their ethnic minority identity, or to use the Internet for the free exchange of ideas, and have sentenced many citizens so detained to harsh prison terms;

Whereas Chinese authorities continue to exert control over religious and cultural institutions in Tibet, abusing human rights through instances of torture, arbitrary arrest, and detention of Tibetans without public trial for peacefully expressing their political or religious views;

Whereas bilateral human rights dialogues between several nations and the People's Republic of China have yet to produce substantial adherence to international norms; and

Whereas the People's Republic of China has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but has yet to take the steps necessary to make the treaty legally binding: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) at the 57th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, the appropriate representative of the United States should solicit cosponsorship for a resolution calling upon the Government of the People's Republic of China to end its human rights abuses in China and Tibet, in compliance with its international obligations; and

(2) the United States Government should take the lead in organizing multilateral support to obtain passage by the Commission of such resolution.

Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a resolution, along with my colleague Senator WELLSTONE, calling on the Administration to introduce a resolution at the upcoming meeting of the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Commission highlighting China's human rights abuses. This Senate resolution makes a simple statement. The U.S.should lead the effort in Geneva to speak for freedom in China, both by introducing a resolution and by garnering the support of key cosponsors.

Mr. President, in a report issued just two days ago, Amnesty International documented the extensive use of torture in China. According to the report, ``Torture is widespread and systemic, committed in the full range of state institutions, from police stations to `re-education through labour' camps, as well as in people's homes, workplaces, and in public ..... Victims can be anyone from criminal suspects, political dissidents, workers and innocent bystanders to officials.'' The common occurrence of torture points to a wider trend--China's human rights record is appalling. The Chinese government continues to repress any voice it perceives to be a threat to its power--religious groups, democracy activists, people trying to expose corruption, people trying to use the Internet for the free exchange of ideas--anyone who will not bow to the government. I expect that the State Department's annual report on human rights, which will be issued soon, will once again confirm this trend.

The destruction of places of worship is nothing new in China. But in recent months, scores of churches have been destroyed, in what some experts have described as the most destructive crackdown since the Cultural Revolution. Beginning in November, in counties around Wenzhou, over 700 churches have been destroyed. Over two hundred others have either been banned or taken for other purposes. I am disturbed by this worsening campaign against religious believers in China. The Chinese government has also stepped up its campaign against spiritual movements like the Falun Gong and Zhong Gong, not only imprisoning leaders but also sentencing marginal followers to lengthy terms and penalizing family members of practitioners.

Pro-democracy activists, including Xu Wenli, one of the founders of the China Democracy Party, are still languishing in prison for legally and peacefully expressing their views. Huang Qi, a middle class computer user and an Internet webmaster, is on trial for subverting state power simply because he posted information about topics like the democracy movement and the Tiannanmen Square Massacre. He could face ten years in prison. This attempt to control Internet usage should be of great concern to the international community, especially those who have touted the Internet as a revolutionizing force in China. Mr. President, all of these human rights abuses point to a much needed response--a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Commission. There is no more appropriate place for highlighting these abuses in a multilateral setting, because this multilateral forum was established just for this purpose. If we do not use this forum for bringing up obvious abuses, then we undercut its very viability. The U.S. has traditionally led the effort on China's human rights abuses. This year should be no different. China is already intensely lobbying other countries to defeat any such resolution. We must begin as soon as possible to obtain support for a resolution.

I understand that the Administration is in the process of deciding whether to advance a resolution at Geneva. I hope that they will look to the Congress and understand that there is broad support for a Geneva resolution. This Administration has the opportunity to set a tone for its approach to China and all of Asia. If the mistake of the Clinton Administration was bowing to China's demands and centering its efforts in Asia around China, then the Bush Administration has the chance to stand firm, to be skeptical of the Chinese government's offers and promises. I urge the Administration not to look at China's offer of ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as anything an empty promise--a distraction that will quickly fade away once the Commission meeting is over.

Finally, Mr. President, last year when the Senate and Congress as a whole passed PNTR for China, proponents argued that passage of PNTR in no way signified a diminished concern for human rights. I believe that now is the time to demonstrate this continuing concern for human rights. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov )

ENDS


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