Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prepared Remarks of Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

From a press conference of Feb. 26, 2009:

Good morning and thank you for coming here today. I’m here with Congressmen Mike Pence, Frank Wolf, and Joe Pitts and a group of former political prisoners and human rights activists to talk about U.S. policy toward China.

Last week, Secretary Clinton told the global media that concern for the protection of human rights of the Chinese people can’t be allowed to “interfere” with the economic crisis, climate change, and security – as if human rights were disconnected and irrelevant to those issues.

With those words, the Secretary effectively took human rights off the U.S. agenda with the Chinese Government. It was a shocking display of pandering, immediately understood by the Chinese government, whose party-controlled press rejoiced. Secretary Clinton made it clear in Beijing that the Obama Administration has chosen to peddle U.S. debt to the largest dictatorship in the world over defending the Chinese people from its government’s policies of torture, forced labor, forced abortion, religious persecution, human sex trafficking, gendercide, and genocide.

Forced abortion deserves a special word in this list of human rights abuses, as it is the only one that the Democratic Congressional leadership appears determined to fund with U.S. taxpayer money. Yesterday the Democratic leadership blocked amendments to the FY 2009 Omnibus spending bill that would prevent President Obama from lavishing $50 million of U.S. taxpayer money on the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). U.S. Government reports and the international media have consistently found that the UNFPA systematically aids and abets the Chinese government’s one child per couple forced abortion policy. That cruel, anti-family policy has made brothers and sisters illegal in China and murdered tens of millions of children and wounded countless Chinese women.

The protection and promotion of human rights ought to be at the core of our relationship with an egregious violator like China – but the Secretary has signaled that for her it will be a talking point at the bottom of the diplomatic agenda--one she’s in no hurry to get to.

In a sad irony, within days of the Secretary’s airy dismissal of human rights, the Department of State issued its Congressionally-mandated annual Country Reports on Human Rights, which concluded that in 2008 the Chinese government’s human rights record “worsened.”

Every day, brave Chinese risk their lives and liberty in the pursuit of freedom, democracy, protection of the family and respect per human rights. As we speak, Chinese political prisoners languish in gulags – laogai concentration camps – facing unspeakable torture and abuse. As a matter of a fact, approximately half a million each day endure the cruelty and humiliation of the labor camp.

When I read the Secretary’s words, I thought of Wei Jingsheng, the Democracy Wall hero who is here with us today. In 1999 Wei told me—When your government submits to the Chinese government’s demand to stop raising human rights issues, they beat us more; when you stand up to them, they beat us less.

Right now, Chinese political prisoners are paying the price for the Secretary’s words. They are being beaten. Their jailers are taunting them that the world has forgotten them, telling them that nobody cares about their fate.

Congressmen Pence, Wolf, and Pitts have joined me to deliver a message to the Chinese people: there are many of us in Congress who will not let the United States government forget about their human rights; we will keep speaking out for them; and we will do everything in our power to urge the administration to do the same.

After my colleagues speak, I will introduce the former political prisoners and human rights defenders.

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