As China’s leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping arrives in Washington, the Obama administration insisted that it would not “shy away’ from raising human rights during his visit.
”We don’t sacrifice the important issues for the sake of having a comfortable visit, nor do we shy away from candid private conversations with the Chinese on human rights,” said Danny Russel, White House senior director for Asian affairs.
Having human rights on the agenda would be of mutual; benefit to both parties, says a prominent advocate.
The Obama Administration should “demonstrate its commitment to advancing human rights and universal values in China and to make this commitment a core principle of U.S.-China relations,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “It must raise its concerns in a clear, frank, and public manner during the visit. Supporting the human rights of the people of China is a win-win for the citizens of both countries.”
But Xi may appear somewhat distracted during what the White House says will be candid discussions about rights, trade, security and currency reform.
The ruling Communist party’s forthcoming leadership transition is facing “a political storm … that could upset succession plans and end one of the country’s most promising political careers.”
A former police chief is seeking asylum in the US, claiming that his life is at risk after a falling-out with Xi’s fellow princeling Bo Xilai, the neo-Maoist party boss of Chongqing.
“I believe Bo’s position will certainly be hurt, his career advancement chances have been badly damaged,” said Joseph Cheng, professor of political science at City University of Hong Kong. “He’s very powerful but he’s also antagonized too many people in the past.”
China is quietly eroding the fundamental values of the West, writes dissident writer Yu, including freedom of expression
Several U.S. universities that I have contacted dare not invite me for a lecture, as they cooperate with China on many projects. If you are a scholar of Chinese studies who has criticized the Communist Party, it would be impossible for you to be involved in research projects with the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute, and you may even be denied a Chinese visa. Conversely, if you praise the Communist Party, not only would you receive ample research funding but you might also be invited to visit China and even received by high-level officials. Western academic freedom has been distorted by invisible hands.
“I’m thinking about carrying some signs with slogans and a photo of Liu Xiaobo,” Yu said in an interview. “I want to express my opinion freely now that I’m in a free country.”
China has been regressing on human rights, he says, citing his own experience as proof.
“During the Jiang Zemin era from 1997 to 2002, I participated in many human rights activities, such as running the Independent Chinese Pen Center with Liu Xiaobo ,” he writes. “Secret police trailed me and tapped my phone, but they did so quietly, and with a sense of integrity.” But then matters deteriorated:
In 2009, during the Hu era, I published a book about Premier Wen Jiabao, claiming he wasn’t a real reformer. That year, on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, police used a table to block my door and wouldn’t let me leave my apartment. They acted brazenly and without a sense of shame. In October 2010, after Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, they put me under house arrest and then kidnapped and tortured me. One of the secret police warned me: “We could bury you alive within half an hour.” I believed him.
His analysis is borne out by other observers.
“In China today, outspoken writers and artists who challenge the status quo of authoritarian one-party rule are increasingly being forced into a stark choice – prison, exile or intimidated silence,” says Phelim Kine, a senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Yu Jie’s difficult decision – like that of fellow writer Liao Yiwu – to go into self-exile highlights how the deepening hostility of the Chinese government to writers who won’t self-censor their works in line with the official narrative.”