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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > Remarks > 2002 > October - December

U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue

Lorne W. Craner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Beijing, China
December 20, 2002

During the last four days, I led the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The delegation included Assistant Attorney General Ralph Boyd and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom John V. Hanford.

The dialogue, which we have stressed must be results-oriented, was conducted in an atmosphere of openness and was marked by incremental but unprecedented progress. For the first time China agreed to extend immediately unconditional invitations to the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. China has also pledged to immediately reissue an invitation, without conditions, to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture .

These steps are significant because in taking them Chinese officials have acknowledged that their human rights practices fall short of international standards. We stand ready to assist the Chinese as they implement the recommendations of these international mechanisms for human rights. We also welcome the Chinese agreement to invite to China for the first time the leaders of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The delegation also traveled to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, to deliver President Bush’s message that the world is watching the situation in the region and that no nation can use the war on terror as an excuse to repress its minorities. Mr. Boyd and I met there with senior regional officials to convey directly the President’s message and to urge the immediate release of Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer.

Mr. Boyd and I also had an opportunity to address students and faculty at Xinjiang University and discuss with them the importance the United States places on protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms at home and abroad during the war on terror. What impressed us most is that the students there, as well as those whom I addressed earlier in the week at the China Youth University of Political Science, were eager to ask questions about human rights that were bold, honest and germane. We were impressed with their intelligence and thoughtful analysis of the problems facing not only China but the world community.

While in Urumqi we also met with senior officials of the Xinjiang Religious Affairs Bureau. While the talks were cordial, I had hoped they would be more productive. Reports of religious repression in Xinjiang remain of tremendous concern to us and we would welcome future opportunities to engage more openly and frankly on these issues.


Released on December 24, 2002

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