Press Release by Congresswoman Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Statement on Human Rights in China in Anticipation of Premier Zhu Rongji's Visit

April 7, 1999

As President Clinton prepares to welcome Premier Zhu Rongji to Washington, I am proud to join Representative Chris Cox (R-CA), a Congressional leader in the fight for human rights in China, Liu Qing, the head of Human Rights in China, and Xu Jin, the daughter of Xu Wenli, in calling on the Chinese government to improve its abysmal record on human rights.

We stand here before one of the world's great symbols of democracy, the United States Capitol, to give voice to the aspirations and dreams of freedom of many brave individuals inside China who cannot speak out for fear of persecution, as well as the many Chinese citizens now outside their country pursuing the same democratic goals.

We stand here today to insist that President Clinton take a leadership role in promoting a human-rights agenda in China and to call on Premier Zhu Rongji to embrace democratic reform with the same high enthusiasm that he has brought to bear on economic reform.

The 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre is only weeks away. I, along with Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), will soon introduce legislation to commemorate the somber 10th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. To honor this solemn occasion, I urge President Clinton and Vice President Gore, in their meetings tomorrow with Premier Zhu, to endorse with enthusiasm the common position recently adopted by Wang Dan, former pro-democracy student leader; by Ding Zilin, whose 17-year-old son was killed in Tiananmen in 1989; and by Bao Tong, a former high-ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party. All three have bravely called for a re-evaluation of the official verdict on the 1989 protests.

President Clinton should also publicly request the release of the hundreds of prisoners of conscience still being held since 1989 and the review of all cases involving political prisoners, including more than 2,000 convicted of the so-called "counter-revolutionary crimes" that were actually erased from Chinese law in 1997. And President Clinton should also call for the immediate, unconditional release of Xu Wenli -- founder of the Chinese Democratic Party and father of Xu Jin, who is with us today -- as well as other members of the Chinese Democratic Party.

Drawing upon the prestige of his high office, the President should also seek an immediate end to the harassment, detention, and imprisonment of Chinese citizens exercising their internationally recognized rights of free expression, association, and religion. He should ask Premier Zhu to ratify, promptly, the two U.N. treaties that Beijing has already signed but continues to violate. They are the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed in October 1998, and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, signed in October 1997.

Finally, we are here to support the Clinton Administration's effort to secure passage of a resolution critical of human rights abuses in China and Tibet at the U.N. Human Rights Commission, currently meeting in Geneva. A vote is expected around the 23rd of April, but now is the time for the White House and State Department to lobby other governments at high levels to support the U.S.-sponsored resolution in two ways: first, by voting against a "no action" motion by China to keep it off the agenda; and second, to co-sponsor and vote for the resolution itself. Meanwhile, we support the rally on behalf of Tibetan rights tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Lafayette Park.

The Chinese President and Foreign Minister have just returned from tours of Europe. Clearly, China cares deeply about close relationships with the West. It is high time for the Clinton Administration to engage in a vigorous expenditure of political capital in Geneva and in capitals around the world. Members of Congress should also support this campaign by raising the resolution with the 53 governments represented on the U.N. Commission.

In short, we want our President to remind Premier Zhu that human rights are, to borrow a word from our Declaration of Independence, inalienable -- in other words, non-negotiable, a matter of high principle to the people of the United States. We reject categorically the notion that our initiative constitute "an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs" of China, for China herself has already endorsed the soaring rhetoric of human rights. All that remains is the alchemy of turning fine words into concrete liberties.

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