DHARAMSHALA: The US government said China needs to carry out political reforms as the overall human rights situation in the country continues to deteriorate.
“The overall human rights situation in China continues to deteriorate,” said Assistant Secretary Michael Posner, after the 17th US-China Human Rights Dialogue in Washington.
“Our message to the Chinese government is you’ve made progress on the economic front, this is the moment to open up the space to allow people to dissent, to question government actions and to do so without fear of retribution,” he told reporters.
“Like people everywhere, Chinese people want to be treated with dignity. This means they seek economic opportunity and jobs; at the same time, they seek a lawful way to voice legitimate grievances and have a meaningful role in the political development of their own society,” he said.
He said both the countries held discussions over issues related to the Uighurs in Xinjiang, and Washington also expressed “concern” over self-immolations in Tibet.
Discussion also took place on range of “broader” issues like “discrimination in terms of language rights, ability to practice religion freely and discrimination in employment” that apply both to the Uighur and Tibetan community, he said.
“There is a growing frustration, I think, among many Chinese people that they don’t have the ability to express their differences in a peaceful way,” he said.
“We take our lead from those within China who are advocating for human rights and who were on the receiving end of improper actions,” Mr Posner said, adding “We’re amplifying their voices.”
Meanwhile, a delegate of a prominent human rights group, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), testified on the human rights situation in Tibet at a House Foreign Affairs Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on China’s human rights abuses, in Washington yesterday.
ICT’s Vice-President Bhuchung Tsering spoke of the message of the self-immolators in Tibet, and showed the committee a poster featuring the faces and names of the 44 Tibetans who have set themselves on fire. Tsering said human rights conditions “from a Tibetan perspective have certainly worsened.”
Responding to the hearing’s focus on Chinese threats, Tsering offered a set of recommendations to the Committee, such as US support to challenge the news blackout in Tibet by funding the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia; investigate China’s interference in the internal affairs of Nepal regarding its Tibetan residents and pomote a regional framework on water security regarding rivers that flow from the Tibetan Plateau among others. (Read ICT statement on testimony)