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(New York) - Human rights must be high on the agenda when U.S. President George Bush meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to President Bush last week. The meeting is scheduled for April 20 in Washington.

“It’s time for China’s leadership to deliver on its promises,” said Brad Adams, director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “For years we’ve been hearing, ‘first economic reform, then political reform.’ President Bush must insist that the time for reform is now, before the list of abuses gets even longer.”

Human Rights Watch drew President Bush’s attention to six pressing issues in China: restrictions on free expression; a deficient justice system that encourages the use of torture; restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and the right to act on those beliefs; harassment and arrest of HIV/AIDS activists; abuse of petitioners seeking remedies for official misconduct; and absence of progress in holding national elections.

Human Rights Watch urged President Bush to remind the Chinese president that the “war on terrorism” should not be used to target ethnic Uighurs in China who peacefully advocate for an East Turkistan state.

“Releasing a few political or religious prisoners for public relations purposes does little to remedy China’s poor human rights record,” said Adams. “All such prisoners should be immediately and unconditionally released and Beijing should act promptly to right other wrongs.”

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