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US will press China on rights violations: Clinton

By Lalit K Jha
January 15, 2011 15:45 IST

The United States has underlined the need for China to address Washington's concerns on human rights violations in the country, ahead of a key visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao, when the issue is expected to come up for discussions.

The United States would continue to voice its concerns on human rights violations in China, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, days ahead of Hu's visit.

"On human rights, a matter that remains at the heart of American diplomacy, America will continue to speak out and to press China when it censors bloggers and imprisons activists, when religious believers, particularly those in unregistered groups, are denied full freedom of worship," she said while delivering the first Holbrooke Memorial lecture.

She said the US will remain concerned when lawyers and legal advocates are sent to prison simply for representing clients who challenge the government's positions, and when some, like Chen Guangcheng, are persecuted even after they are released.

As a founding member of the United Nations, "China has committed to respecting the rights of all its citizens," Clinton said, as 39 Tibetan associations and support groups in the US on Saturday urged President Barack Obama to raise the issue of Tibet, in particular the human rights condition there, with his Chinese counterpart at the White House next week.

Clinton said the US has to reiterate its call for the release of Liu Xiaobo and other political prisoners in China, including those under house arrest and those enduring enforced disappearances, such as Gao Xhiasheng.

"We urge China to protect the rights of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, the rights of all people to express themselves and worship freely, and the rights of civil society and religious organisations to advocate their positions within a framework of the rule of law," the top US diplomat underlined.

She reminded the Chinese leadership that a vibrant civil society would help address some of China's most pressing issues -- from food safety to pollution to education to health care.

"The longer China represses freedom, the longer it will miss out on these opportunities and the longer that Nobel Prize winners' empty chairs in Oslo will remain a symbol of a great nation's unrealised potential and unfulfilled promise," Clinton said.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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