From left, Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo, Gao Zhisheng and Chen Guangcheng
In his statement issued on International Human Rights Day (that’s today), US Ambassador to China Gary F. Locke highlighted the plight of four dissidents — Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo, his wife Liu Xia, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and blind activist Chen Guangcheng:
We celebrate International Human Rights Day on this sixty-third anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document, drafted by representatives from around the world, enshrines the principle that all human beings are endowed with certain inalienable rights. Secretary Clinton reaffirmed our commitment today to support those who seek to expand the protection of human rights.
In recognition of the universality of this principle and our common humanity, promotion of human rights and religious freedom is at the forefront of American diplomacy worldwide, including in China. As Secretary Clinton noted in her December 6 speech in Geneva, the Universal Declaration proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights – rights that are not conferred by governments but which governments are bound to protect.
Our goal of building a cooperative partnership with China includes regular dialogue on human rights issues. U.S. support for a strong, prosperous and successful China reflects our belief that respect for the rule of law and protection of the universal freedoms of expression, belief and assembly are critical to securing the growth, prosperity, and long-term stability that China seeks and to realizing the full potential of its people.
While China has undoubtedly made great strides in developing its economy, the imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and restrictions on the freedoms of his spouse Liu Xia, the illegal “disappearing” of Gao Zhisheng, the unlawful detention of Chinese citizens such as lawyer Chen Guangcheng, and constraints on the religious freedom and practices of Tibetan, Uighur and Christian communities do not bring China closer to achieving its stated goals.
There is much work to be done by all governments to fully live up to the principles that all persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights. Today, I urge the People’s Republic of China to uphold its commitments to the Universal Declaration.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech in Geneva marking Human Rights Day, challenged leaders of the world to “be on the right side of history” and to recognise that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights”.
Also read Gary Locke’s World Aids Day op-ed published in the Global Times.
More on human rights in China here.