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China's Human Rights situation remains abysmal

Written by: Staff

Washington, Apr 20: A US Congressman has said despite China making economic progress, its human rights situation ''remains abysmal''.

Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations Christopher Smith yesterday said, ''So-called economic reform has utterly failed to result in protection of freedom of speech, expression, or assembly.'' Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to meet US President George W Bush today.

Mr Smith said the visit of the Chinese President to the United States provides the US Congress and people an opportunity to bring the ''terrible human rights'' situation in China to the attention of the US policy makers and the world community.

''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,'' he added.

''Beijing has increasingly viewed information available on the internet as a potential threat to the party's ability to control population and monopolise political power,'' Mr Smith said.

He said individuals who attempted to speak freely were imprisoned and even tortured. While addressing labour conditions. Those who protest against unjust wage and labour practices outside the ''government-controlled labour union are arrested and imprisoned,'' he added.

''Chinese citizens are often persecuted just for going to courts to secure rights which even the current Chinese law, as restrictive as at is, guarantees them,'' he said.

The Congressman also cited continued persecution of religious leaders and their groups.

''Over the years, I have held more than 25 hearings on human rights abuses in China,'' Mr Smith added.


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