Human Rights in China Deteriorating,
Despite WTO Deal
by Lawrence Morahan
CNS Staff Writer
19 November, 1999
Washington (CNSNews.com) – Incidents of human rights abuses in China are on the increase, and membership in the World Trade Organization will not help the plight of tens of millions of people seeking religious freedom in China, a group of Chinese dissidents and U.S. congressmen told a Washington press conference Friday.
"There are more slave labor camps in China today than there were in the former Soviet Union when Alexander Soltzinetzyn wrote the Gulag Archipelago," said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), co-sponsor of Congressional Resolution 218 which calls on Beijing to stop its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
Speaking at the Population Research Institute’s international summit on Human Rights in China: 50 Years Later, Wolf said the Chinese dissident movement was a "worthy and noble battle." He called on Americans to "embolden and encourage" Chinese dissidents by putting pressure on their congressional representatives to investigate civil rights abuses inside China.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), also a co-sponsor of 218, condemned the Clinton Administration for its "coddling of this dictatorship" and for "shamelessly de-linking" the granting of most favored nation trade status to China with evidence of improvement in Beijing’s human rights record.
"The atheistic regime of the PRC has long been brutal in its suppression of religious practice that is not state-controlled," Smith told the House Thursday. "Tibetan Buddhists, Catholics loyal to the Pope, Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, and Protestant House Church members have all borne the brunt of persecution by the Chinese government.
"In recent months, that government has embarked on a new campaign: an attempt to, in its own words, ‘smash’ Falun Gong, a peaceful and nonviolent form of spiritual practice," Smith said.
Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, extended an invitation to the Chinese Embassy in Washington to participate in the event, he said. In rejecting the offer, Minister Counselor He Yafei said: "I hope that you can understand that no Chinese diplomat can allow himself to sink so low as to sit with the convicted criminals of his own country."
Chinese dissident speakers at the event included Wei Jingsheng, a fellow of Columbia University’s center for the study of human rights, who was jailed by the Communists for 20 years for his dissident activities.
"History will decide who in China has committed criminal acts," Mosher replied to the Chinese Embassy. "Wei Jingsheng, whose only offense was calling for democracy, or those who unlawfully imprisoned him for 20 years. The Chinese students who demonstrated at Tiananmen or those in power in Beijing who ordered the butchery that followed. The members of the Falun Gong, or the Communist Party Politburo that ordered the brutal suppression of the peaceful Buddhist group that is now occurring in China."