US hold ‘tough discussions’ with China on serious rights issues

Tibetan Review,  30 April 2011

The United States said Apr 28 that it raised a number of serious human concerns with China during their two-day, annual rights dialogue in Beijing and that the two sides had “a tough set of discussions”. Reports cited Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner as saying the talks were expansive and in depth, and also included issues such as Internet freedom, religious freedom, Tibet, and Xinjiang.

“In recent months, we’ve seen a serious backsliding on human rights, and a discussion of these negative trends dominated the human rights dialogue these past two days,” voanews.com Apr 28 quoted Posner as saying.  “We have been and are very concerned over recent months by reports that dozens of people, including public interest lawyers, writers, artists like Ai Weiwei, and others, have been arrested, detained, or in some cases, disappeared, with no regard to legal measures.”

On the recent detention and disappearance of well known artist and activist Ai Weiwei, Mr Posner was quoted as saying, “What I would say is that on that case, we certainly did not get an answer that satisfied. … There was no sense of comfort from the response, or the lack of response.”

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei gave few details about the talks, while acknowledging that they were “candid and in depth,” the report said. He had made clear, however, that his government was opposed to what he called the United States’ use of the human rights issue as an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

The report noted that rights will again be on the agenda, along with a number of other issues, at high-level US-China strategic and economic talks in Jun’11 in Washington.

Posner has made it clear that human rights constitute an important element in bilateral relations. “Human rights is an essential feature of what we do, and so to the extent that there are serious human rights problems, those problems become an impediment to the relationship,” bbc.co.uk  Apr 28 quoted Posner as saying.

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