The new administration has, “a particular interest in the human rights situation in China,” says James McGovern, co-chair of a House of Representatives commission on human rights. “This situation is not going away. We are going to raise this issue time and time and time again.”
China’s foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, has said that Beijing is committed to working with President Obama’s administration to strengthen ties and cooperation. Yet last week, China censored parts of Obama’s inauguration speech.
Chinese broadcasters edited out a portion of the speech dealing with fascism and communism. President Obama also referred to regimes which cling to power through corruption, deceit and the silencing of dissent. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu claimed that state-run media had “their own editing rights,” and attempted to justify China’s human rights violations.
Lucie Morillon, Washington director of Reporters Without Borders, says that pressure on Chinese dissidents intensified prior to the 2008 Olympic Games and has not let up. She calls on the administration to, “make human rights a priority, not a second thought, in its relations with China.”
Not everyone agrees. Selig Harrison, director of the Asia program at the U.S.-based Center for International Policy, claims it is ill-advised for the new administration to confront China. “We are dependent on Chinese goodwill for our economic survival and viability, and, therefore, it seems to me that this type of posture is very risky,” he says.
Future relations with China remain an unknown factor in the new administration. We can only wait and see what President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will decide to do.
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