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House committee slams China rights record on eve of Hu visit

[JURIST] A panel from the US House Committee on International Relations [official website] sharply criticized China's human rights record on Wednesday, ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's Thursday visit to the White House [arrival ceremony transcript; CNN report]. At a Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations [official website] hearing [official website, press release], subcommittee chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) said:

This week's visit of President Hu Jintao of China to the United States provides the U.S. Congress and people an opportunity to bring to the attention of U.S. policy makers and the world community the terrible human rights situation as it exists in China today. It will also help provide the vital context for any relationship we should have with China. And it will, I hope convey our unshakeable resolve and commitment to press Beijing for serious, measurable and durable reform. The people of China deserve no less. It is our moral duty to stand with the oppressed, not with the oppressor.

State Department human rights reports and the consistent reporting from very reputable NGOs indicate that Chinese government repression of its citizens continues. In fact, the current Chinese regime is one of the very worst violators of human rights in the world, and continues to commit every single day egregious crimes against its own citizens. At a rough count, the most recent State Department Human Rights Report for China ran to about 45,000 words. Before it even gets down to details, the report lists 22 major rights problems. Few if any nations can even begin to match this unseemly record, from the systematic denial of political freedom and use of torture to interference in the most private matters of family and conscience.
Read Smith's full opening statement [PDF].

The Committee also criticized American Internet and technology companies [Guardian report] such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cisco for obeying restrictions demanded by China in exchange for access to its markets. Ethan Guttman, a former consultant to US businesses operating in China, urged the US companies to pull out instead of bowing down to government pressure [testimony, PDF]. CNS News has more.

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