"We ... recognize China's extraordinary achievement in economic reform over the past three decades. . . . At the same time we believe that political reforms in China have not matched these economic advances," said Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, while briefing the press about the recent U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing.
"[I]n recent months we've seen a serious back-sliding on human rights," Assistant Secretary Posner continued. "We have been and are very concerned . . . 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."
The focus for the United States, during the two days of human rights dialogue, was on the lawyers, bloggers, artists, non-governmental-organization activists, journalists, representatives of religious and ethnic minority communities, and others who were asserting their rights and calling for reform in China.
Assistant Secretary Posner expressed concern about Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer known for defending activists and religious minorities. "His . . . whereabouts [remain] unknown, since April of 2010," Assistant Secretary Posner said. "[I]t's most unsettling and disturbing . . . to the families, but [also] to all of us, when people simply disappear. . . [I]f a government wants to take someone in custody, they need to bring them before a court and subject them to a legal proceeding."
"The issues we're describing are based on universal human rights standards which do not have boundaries," Assistant Secretary Posner said. "Every human being, on the basis of their humanity, is entitled to be treated with dignity, to have fairness, to have justice. . . [O]ur raising these issues [is] not because of the United States or the West. It's because people inside China are asking, demanding that there be an opening up of the process so that their basic human rights can be respected. We're simply reinforcing what many Chinese people themselves are asking."