November 9, 2017
Published By Tenzin Rinzin

(From 2nd L to R) US President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, China’s President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan look at the Forbidden City in Beijing on November 8, 2017. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON

Dharamshala: As defenders fight for their rights in the face of often brutal persecution, they often look to the United States for support. US President Donald Trump’s first state visit to China, at this “historic moment” after a key Party congress in Beijing, is expected to chart the course of development for the world’s most important bilateral relationship with Xi Jinping.

Trade and North Korea will be high on the agenda but the issue of Human Rights in China is unlikely to be on the agenda for President Trump.

Many Human rights activists and even members of his party have urged President Trump to challenge Xi on the issue of Human rights.

According to the Guardian, in a recent letter to the President, two prominent Republicans urged him to raise the “forced isolation” and ongoing surveillance of Liu Xia, the wife of late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and call for the release of political prisoners including the jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti. They also petitioned Trump to challenge Xi’s alleged erosion of Hong Kong’s political freedoms.

The endless censorship and constant suppression of information and freedom of speech played out by China, mostly in Tibet and Xinjiang is nothing new and is another issue that could be side-stepped by President Trump due to his hostility towards media.

Taiwan activists too has urged President Trump to raise the case and release of Lee Ming-che, a university program manager and former employee of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, is accused of using social media since 2012 to teach mainland Chinese citizens about Taiwan’s multi-party democracy. Lee also used to manage a fund for families of political prisoners in China before his imprisonment.

Even in Tibet, every aspect of Tibetan life is threatened: political oppression, cultural and religious suppression, social and economic discrimination, environmental destruction and information censorship. Any act of defiance is seen as posing threat reckoned to threaten the Chinese rule is and is considered a criminal offense.

President Trump has till date not made a priority of such issues, even as Xi has conducted a sweeping crackdown on civil society. Owing to the admiration expressed by President Trump on Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Rodrigo Duterte, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, few truly expect these issues to be raised.

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