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Clinton Should Press China on Human Rights

President Clinton should press Chinese President Jiang Zemin for human rights improvements as a precondition for Beijing getting normal trading status on a permanent basis, Human Rights Watch said today. On September 11, Clinton will meet with Jiang in New Zealand during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

These improvements should include: ratification of one of the two UN human rights treaties China has signed; taking steps to abolish reeducation through labor (an administrative punishment); agreeing to a U.N. convention against forced labor; and opening all trials to outside observers. The two treaties are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

The Clinton-Jiang talks at APEC are expected to focus among other things on China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Clinton has said he will ask Congress to do away with the annual renewal process for what used to be called Most Favored Nation status and is now referred to as Normal Trade Relations (NTR).

"President Clinton can't talk trade and ignore the ongoing crackdown in China," said Sidney Jones, Asia director of Human Rights. "The point is that China needs to meet international standards, in the fields of both world trade and human rights."

As the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China approaches on October 1, Chinese authorities have stepped up their crackdown on dissent, Human Rights Watch said. Among other things, it has:

officially banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement on July 22, 1999, a clear violation of the rights of freedom of belief and association. It has also detained dozens of Falun Gong members without charging them. Chinese authorities have announced that some of them will be put on trial for subversion.
detained Tsering Dorje, a Tibetan translator on August 15, 1999. Dorje was stopped in Qinghai with two foreigners assessing a World Bank project; his current whereabouts are unknown. In a separate incident four days earlier, Chinese police detained Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman, as she was going to meet American visitors. She is scheduled to be tried on September 19 for passing human rights information to foreigners. Restrictions on access to Tibet and Xinjiang remain in place.
handed down harsh prison sentences, from eight to thirteen years, to China Democracy Party activists, including Liu Xianbin, She Wanbao, Zha Jianguo and Gao Hongming.
denied outside medical care to Xu Wenli, a Democracy Party organizer sentenced to thirteen years last December. He was told by prison authorities that he has hepatitis-B, a serious liver disease, but his family members are prevented from getting him outside treatment.

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