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U.S.-China Human Rights Talks


Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights speaking at a September 28 Press conference at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

The U.S. spent two days raising human rights concerns with China, including religious freedom, labor rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, racial discrimination, and multilateral cooperation.

The U.S. spent 2 days raising human rights concerns with China, including religious freedom, labor rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, racial discrimination, and multilateral cooperation. This was the first U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue conducted under the Obama administration, and was agreed to during President Obama's meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing in November of 2009. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner led the delegation.

The dialogue is a mechanism for the two governments to focus on specific human rights-related areas of concern. The two delegations spent one day in plenary sessions, each one on a distinct topic, and one day conducting site visits.

Assistant Secretary Posner characterized the discussions as "candid and constructive," noting that there are areas where the two countries do not agree. However, Mr. Posner said that "the sign of a mature relationship is that we're able to discuss our differences in an honest and detailed way."

In the press conference following the talks, Assistant Secretary Posner highlighted several key discussion points, including freedom of expression, in particular on the Internet, and the role of public interest lawyers. He also brought up individual human rights cases of concern, including writer and activist Liu Xiaobo, and human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Assistant Secretary Posner previously stated that it is "important for us to be publicly reiterating our concern" about human rights activists under fire in China.

The United States is committed to global human rights, including in China. Assistant Secretary Posner stated that he sees the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue as "laying the foundation for me to continue to have conversations, and for these to become a more regular pattern so that we can exchange ideas and concerns, and look for ways to cooperate." He also noted that the United States and China will continue to discuss human rights regularly and at high levels through other diplomatic channels.

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