US: Chinese Political Reforms Have Lagged Behind Economic Advances

Posted July 25th, 2012 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. officials say Chinese political reforms have lagged behind the country's economic advances.

Representatives of the two nations met for an annual dialogue on human rights earlier this week.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner, told reporters Wednesday that the overall human rights situation in China continues to deteriorate.

“We recognize China's extraordinary record of economic development over the last three decades. During this period hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have been lifted out of poverty, and this is a remarkable achievement. At the same time, we see that political reforms in China have not kept pace with economic advances. 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.”

Posner said a number of individuals have been arrested and detained in China as part of a larger pattern of arrests and extralegal detentions of those who challenge official actions and policies in China.

He said during the meetings Monday and Tuesday the U.S. urged China to release pro-democracy activists lawyers who have been imprisoned because of their legal advocacy on behalf of clients critical of official actions.

“Among the cases we raised were lawyers like Gao Zhisheng and Nia Vong, who have been imprisoned because of their legal advocacy on behalf of clients who espouse controversial positions and who are critical of official actions. We urged the Chinese government to release such lawyers as well as imprisoned democracy activists like Liu Xiaobo, Chen Wei and Chen Xi, who have actively pursued political openness and the promotion of fundamental freedoms for Chinese citizens.”

In addition to individuals, Posner said the United States expressed concern about China's treatment of its minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang. He said the United States made it clear that it will continue to raise these issues.

Chinese official news agency Xinhua said Wednesday that both sides described the two-day dialogue as “candid open and constructive.”

It said the Chinese side introduced its recent efforts to improve legislation, judicial justice and people's livelihood, while the United States expressed willingness to work with China to address their differences and boost mutual trust.