U.S., China to hold human rights talks
China and the United States will hold human rights talks in Beijing next week, the State Department announced Friday, amid a Chinese crackdown on government critics that the U.S. condemned.
Authorities in China have launched their toughest clampdown on dissent in years since anonymous online appeals emerged in February calling for weekly protests to emulate those that have rocked the Arab world.
The State Department said the discussions next week would focus on “human rights developments, including the recent negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, and arrests and convictions.”
Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner will head an interagency delegation to Beijing Wednesday for the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, it added in a statement.
Scores of Chinese activists and rights lawyers have been rounded up in the past few months since the “Jasmine” campaign emerged, aiming to encourage calls for reform similar to those that sparked unrest in the Arab world.
Prominent artist Ai Weiwei, a staunch critic of China’s ruling Communist Party whose fame had until now given him relative protection, has also been detained and is being investigated for “economic crimes.” The U.S. has protested his detention.
So far, though, no public demonstrations have been reported in China.
But authors led by Salman Rushdie issued a protest Friday after outspoken Chinese writer Liao Yiwu said Beijing had refused him permission to travel to New York for a literary festival.
Liao, who spent four years in jail after writing the poem Massacre about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, was slapped with a ban on leaving China days before he was due to fly out, festival organizers said.
Rushdie, who had invited Liao to take part in the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature opening Monday, said that he and other writers “emphatically protest this travel ban.”
During the talks next week, other rights issues will be discussed including the rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labour and minority rights, the State Department said.