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CHINA – Joint Human Rights Dialogue with the USA: Time to make it effective

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This statement was issued by Beijing-based Chinese
Human Rights Defenders on May 10, 2010.

This statement was issued by Beijing-based Chinese
Human Rights Defenders on May 10, 2010.

On May 13, the governments
of China and the United States are set
to hold the next round of talks in the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue.

dialogues, which have been held on 12 previous occasions
since 1989, are widely viewed as not having yielded any substantive
results. In order to break from this precedent, CHRD believes that the
two sides must agree to specific commitments and benchmarks by which to
measure progress after the talks.

The involvement of Chinese civil society, which is crucial to
addressing human rights concerns and monitoring government action after
the dialogue, must be stressed during these talks as well.

believes that the human rights dialogue could be made more
effective if the U.S. government focuses on concerns that the Chinese
government already feels pressure to address as a result of domestic
public debate.

Moving forward, these human rights issues should be
raised in other
bilateral dialogues, so that human rights concerns are not relegated to
only one forum.

Finally, the U.S. government must continue to
raise individual
cases of prisoners of conscience, as such actions have proven in the
past to have a positive effect on the situation of those incarcerated.

"It will take a serious commitment from both sides to make this
round of talks anything more than a public relations exercise," said
Renee Xia, CHRD's International Director.

"The Chinese government
must stop using these dialogues as an
excuse to avoid taking action to curb violations of human rights, and
the U.S. government must make the talks one part of a comprehensive and
consistent human rights policy towards China." 
CHRD urges the
U.S. government to highlight five critical areas of concern –
difficulties facing human rights lawyers, internet freedom, labor
rights, torture, and forced evictions – which deserve specific attention
during the upcoming dialogue (see attached appendix for further

While there are certainly many other pressing human
rights issues
which merit discussion in the upcoming dialogue – including religious
freedom, rights of ethnic minorities, and children's rights – these five
issues have generated considerable interest and public debate within
China in recent months.
CHRD also believes that some of these
issues, especially internet freedom and labor rights, are closely linked
to topics which may be discussed during other bilateral talks, such as
the next round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which
will be held in Beijing starting on May 24.

By bringing such
concerns into other diplomatic exchanges, the U.S.
government may be able to exert greater pressure on the Chinese
government to change its practices on human rights.
in order to independently monitor whether the Chinese government takes
any concrete steps to address issues raised in the dialogue, Chinese
civil society actors must be involved.

Chinese officials have
steadfastly refused to allow independent
Chinese non-governmental organizations the opportunity to participate in
bilateral human rights dialogues, including the upcoming talks.

U.S. government must facilitate the participation of NGOs
before, during, and after the talks to send a clear message to the
Chinese government.
Finally, CHRD urges the U.S. government to
raise the cases of persecuted human rights defenders and prisoners of
conscience during the dialogue, prioritizing the cases of those
individuals who are seriously ill (such as Hu Jia and Chen Guangcheng)
or who are serving particularly long sentences (such as Liu Xiaobo and
Guo Quan).

CHRD continues to call for the unconditional and
immediate release
of these and all other Chinese prisoners of conscienc.

Source: Chinese Human Rights Defenders newsletter, 22 April