Human Rights Watch today applauded the decision by the Clinton Administration to sponsor a resolution on China at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and urged the European Union (E.U.) to quickly join the effort. The Commission convenes on March 20, 2000.

"The U.S. is right to say that China's human rights record has deteriorated," said Mike Jendrzejczyk, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division. "China must be held to same basic human rights standards as any other government. The Clinton Administration should immediately launch a high level effort to organize support by other countries."

The international monitoring group called on the European Union to join in sponsoring a U.N. resolution. On Thursday, January 13, the E.U. working group will meet in Brussels to begin discussing plans for Geneva. The working group should recommend E.U. co-sponsorship of a U.S.-backed resolution, and urge the E.U. foreign ministers to endorse action at their meeting on January 24-25, Human Rights Watch said. Since 1990, the U.S. and the E.U. have cosponsored several China resolutions; an effort to censure China in 1995 was debated in Geneva and came within one vote of passing. But in recent years, Western governments have focused mainly on "dialogue" with China to promote human rights, avoiding genuine pressure for fear of antagonizing Beijing or endangering trade deals.

"While China has been negotiating WTO agreements, it has simultaneously cracked down on dissidents, unofficial religious groups, labor organizers and others," said Jendrzejczyk. "We strongly support the Administration's decision, and hope the President and Vice President will become directly involved in pushing action in Geneva."

For more information contact:
Mike Jendrzejczyk: 202-612-4341
Lotte Leicht: 322-732-2009
Jean Paul Marthoz: 322-732-2009
Joanna Weschler: 212-216-1217, cell #: 917 699 9314