Statement on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States
February 14, 2012
Dear Mr. President Obama and related officials in the US government,
We have learned that, Xi Jinping, vice president of China, will be visiting the US on February 13. According to Xinhua News Agency, Xi “would seek consensus between leaders of the two nations during his visit to promote further the establishment of China-US cooperative partnership that is mutually respective and beneficial.” We call for the government of the United States to discuss with Xi the serious deterioration of freedom of expression and human rights conditions in China, and demand the Chinese government to release all prisoners of conscience, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. We wish to bring the following cases to your attention in particular:
1. China is the only country that imprisons a Nobel Peace Prize winner and house arrests his wife at the same time. A renowned writer and former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, Dr. Liu Xiaobo was arrested in December, 2008, for his writings that criticize the Chinese communist government and for his role in drafting the 08 Charter calling for political reform and improvement of human rights. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison on the Christmas day, 2009, for “inciting to subvert state power.” He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 but it didn’t help to improve his situation. What’s more, the Chinese government cut off his wife Liu Xia’s contact with the outside world, and it’s been more than one and half year that no one has heard from her.
2. Within less than one month since last Christmas, the Chinese government has tried and sentenced three writers (in three separate trials)—Chen Wei, Chen Xi and Li Tie—to 9 or 10 years prison term for their writings that advocate freedom, human rights and democracy. Zhu Yufu, a 59-year-old writer and poet, was sentenced to 7 years in prison on February 10, in Hangzhou, for writing a poem that urges citizens to join the “Jasmine Movement”- walk, and for his being interviewed by foreign media, and raising money for prisoners of conscience.
3. The disappear of the lawyer Gao Zhisheng is one of the most notorious case . For years Gao has been kidnapped, tortured and kept in unknown place by the Chinese security police. In 2006, he was sentenced to 5-year probation for “inciting to subvert state power.” In December, only days before his probation was due to end, the Chinese authority “took him back” to prison for violating probation terms while he was, for most of the part during the probation, either in police custody or under surveillance. His family was notified of his re-imprisonment in Shaya Prison in remote Xinjiang, but when his older brother travelled thousands of miles to visit him, the brother was denied visit which is allowed according to the prison regulation. Till today the family does not know of Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts and his conditions.
4. After serving 15 years in prison for “separatism” and other charges, the ethnic Mongolian writer Hada was due to be released in December, 2010, but he has continued to be held in undisclosed location by the Chinese authorities, and his wife and children were also detained under fictitious charges. Similarly, the blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng in Shandong, released from prison in September, 2010, after serving more than 4 years, was placed under strict house arrest along with his wife and family, completely cut off from the outside world. Hundreds of Chinese and foreign visitors have tried to visit Chen Guangcheng, but have been beaten, robbed, detained, or driven away.
5. Yu Jie, a renowned writer and former vice-president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center who recently arrived in the US to seek political asylum, revealed how he was kidnapped and tortured shortly after Liu Xiaobo was announced the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. We have learned from various sources that people who were arrested last year during the aborted Jasmine movement have been subjected to torture as well. It is a flagrant violation of Chinese law as well as UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that China signed.
The US Congress has passed resolutions to call for the release of Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng, yet we see nearly any reaction from China. It is clear that more needs to be done on the part of the US, should US wants to emphasize its core values of civil rights and freedoms in front of the world. We urge the American government to exert its international influence and treat human rights issue as a priority in discussions with Mr. Xi Jinping. We urge the US government to take the following actions:
1. Ask the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo and all other prisoners of conscience; announce publicly the real status of the long-disappeared rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, and grant his family the lawful rights to visit him; immediately give freedom back to Hada and Chen Guangcheng, and stop oppression against their families.