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Kerry asked to raise human rights issues with China

PTI Washington | Updated on July 09, 2013 Published on July 09, 2013

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has asked the Obama Administration to raise the issue of human rights violation with China during the Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be held from tomorrow.

“The administration needs to be a strong voice for the voiceless and vulnerable in China,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF’s Chairperson yesterday.

While US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would co-chair the American side, the Chinese delegation would be led by Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

Ahead of the two day dialogue meet beginning July 10, USCIRF had urged John Kerry to raise the issue of religious prisoners and human rights lawyers in China during the discussion with his Chinese counterparts.

The continued confinement of thousands of political and religious prisoners in China violates its international obligations and constitutional protection for human rights and religious freedom, USCIRF said.

“China’s imprisoned dissidents stand peacefully for freedom and rule of law, but Beijing views them as state enemies. Continuing human rights abuses are at odds with international legal standards that China is obliged to respect,” Swett said.

She added that China’s continued repression of dissent and restrictions on religious freedom will affect the hopes of finding a common ground between the two countries on other important global concerns.

“Human rights will be the primary focus, as it has been in previous discussions. Sometimes, we focus on certain aspect of the human right -- let’s say on labour issues. So from year to year, that might change,” an US administration official said.

He added that issues related to ethnic minorities will also be raised during the meeting.

“It is something that Secretary Kerry feels deeply about, and so I expect that he will raise it as he has in past meetings with the Chinese,” the official said.

Published on July 09, 2013
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