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3/25/04 - CHINA RIGHTS RESOLUTION - 2004-03-26

The U.S. is introducing a resolution on China at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The goal, says U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, is to encourage the Chinese government “to take positive, concrete steps. . .to protect human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the Chinese people”:

“The United States has been disappointed by China’s failure to meet its commitments made at the U.S.-China human rights dialogue in December 2002 as well as the failure to follow through on its stated intention to expand cooperation on human rights in 2003.”

The U.S. recognizes that China has taken some steps in the past two decades toward respecting the rights of the Chinese people. They include the provision of legal aid for some people accused of crimes, relaxation of some controls over movement of workers from the countryside to cities, and expansion of the rights of such internal migrants to basic social services. This month, China approved constitutional amendments on private property and human rights. But Mr. Boucher says the U.S. resolution is based not on further promises but on current Chinese government practices:

“We’ve seen arrests of democracy activists; we’ve seen arrests of Internet dissidents; we’ve seen arrests of HIV/AIDS activists; we’ve seen arrests of protesting workers, house church members, and defense lawyers. Repression of Falun Gong practitioners continues.”

In China, says U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, we’ve seen “a continuing series of arrests and practices that. . .go against the idea that human rights are respected. . . and we would hope to see those practices change.”