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Urging Introduction of Resolution Calling on China to End its Human Rights Violations

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Location: Washington, DC


URGING INTRODUCTION OF RESOLUTION CALLING ON CHINA TO END ITS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS -- (House of Representatives - March 02, 2004)

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 530) urging the appropriate representative of the United States to the 60th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to introduce a resolution calling upon the Government of the People's Republic of China to end its human rights violations in China, and for other purposes, as amended.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Despite the hopes and expectations of some that robust trade with China would usher in at least a modicum of respect for basic human rights and fundamental liberties, the simple fact of the matter is that the dictatorship in China oppresses, tortures and mistreats tens of millions of its own citizens.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the government's human rights record remains poor, and the government continued to commit numerous and serious abuses, and the repression is getting worse. The State Department Human Rights Report went on to say there was backsliding, their word, backsliding on key human rights issues, including arrests. Abuses include killing, torture, mistreatment of prisoners, and forced confessions.

Amazingly, many years, 15 years after Tiananmen Square when we saw people protesting the government asking for simple liberties and simple rights, carrying around a facsimile of the Statue of Liberty, 15 years after that there are still some 2,000 people remaining incarcerated in prison camps and detention centers. That is unconscionable this many years afterwards.

I remind my colleagues that people who argue that if we just traded with the Chinese, that things would get better. Back in 1989, the trade deficit was about $6 billion. Now it is $124 billion and counting. It goes up by the day. We trade; they torture, abuse, incarcerate, arrest and mistreat.

Some years ago soon after Tiananmen Square, it brought this to life to me and I was thinking about it this morning, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) and I went to Beijing Prison No. 1, a prison where 40 Tiananmen Square prisoners were being held. They were like modern-day concentration camp victims. Their heads were shaved. Men who had been out there protesting, asking peacefully that the government allow just some basic liberties that we take for granted in the United States and in many other nations of the world, and yet for that the book was thrown at them and there they were making jelly shoes and socks for export to the United States.

The torture does not stop with those who demand political freedoms. On the religious front there is ongoing aggressive repression of those who want to practice their faith as they see fit. We see Falun Gong practitioners who are routinely rounded up and beaten and abused, and hundreds have been tortured to death while held in captivity.

I remember meeting in 1994 with a Catholic bishop by the name of Bishop Su. He now, counting all of the years to date he was in Chinese prisons, has spent 27 years of his life being mistreated in Chinese prison and detention centers.

Here is a man whose only violation of the law was to practice his faith with faithfulness. He is a very holy man. In 1994 when he was out of prison briefly, I met with him, and there was not one ounce of malice or hate in him for the dictatorship that was so abusing him. He spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation and how he hoped some day China would be free; and for that, he has been severely punished.

After I left, he was made a captive again and spent 9 days. Then he went into hiding, and in 1997 was recaptured again and put back into prison. In mid-November, we discovered that this great man was still alive and was getting some medical care under heavy guard. Here he is 27 years, a Roman Catholic bishop, and he is just a tip of the iceberg.
Protestant underground believers, Catholics who are underground Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims who have been rounded up under the pretext of post-9/11 saying somehow they are committing acts of terrorism, they are good, honest people, and the government of China enslaves them and mistreats them.

As my colleagues know, China has been designated a CPC country, a country of particular concern, by the U.S. State Department because of its ongoing violations of religious liberties and rights. And as my colleagues know, since 1979 there has been the one-child per family policy. The policy says if the second child happens to come along, he or she has to be aborted. Heavy fines are imposed upon the women, particularly. They call it social compensation fees. Sometimes it is six times the annual salaries of the parents compelling them to abort that baby. Forced abortion and forced sterilization are commonplace in China.

This resolution calls upon the government to cease that horrific attack on the human family and upon women. It is a violation of their basic human rights. It is violence against women, and the child as well.

What this resolution does in a nutshell, it calls on the administration, it calls on all interested parties at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which will convene in mid-March, to take up a resolution to just bring out the facts and bring out the basic lack of human rights in China today and not bury it under the table, which unfortunately all of us have done to some extent; and certainly, the U.N. has done it for years.

I would hope that the administration, and I believe they will, will try to get such a resolution passed. We have tried six times. We have not succeeded. One reason is that the Chinese government is very adroit at intimidating other countries or giving them foreign aid so they will back what we call a no-action motion that is offered in Geneva. Even with that as a possibility, and most likely a probability, I think we have a moral duty and obligation to raise it and raise it as aggressively as we can for the victims and those who will be victimized in the future.

Madam Speaker, despite the hopes and expectations of some that robust trade with China would usher in at least a modicum of respect for basic human rights and fundamental liberties, the simple fact of the matter is that the dictatorship in China oppresses, tortures and mistreats tens of millions of its own citizens.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the government's human rights record remains "poor," and the government continued "to commit numerous and serious abuses," and the repression is getting worse. The State Department Human Rights Report went on to say there was "backsliding, on key human rights issues, including arrests. Abuses include killing, torture, mistreatment of prisoners, and forced confessions."

Amazingly, 15 years after Tiananmen Square when we witnessed courageous Chinese protesting government abuse, asking for simple liberties and elemental rights, even carrying around Tiananmen a facsimile of the Statue of Liberty, 15 years after that historic outpouring there are still some 2,000 people incarcerated in prison camps and detention centers. That is unconscionable.

I remind my colleagues that the people who argued that if we just traded more with the Chinese, that things would get better on the human rights front. Back in 1989, the trade deficit was about $6 billion. Now it is $124 billion and counting. It worsens by the day. We trade, they torture; we trade, they abuse; we trade, they incarcerate; we trade, they arrest and mistreat.

Right after Tiananmen Square, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) and I went to Beijing and visited Prison No. 1, a prison where 40 Tiananmen Square prisoners were being held. They were like modern-day Nazi concentration camp victims. Their heads were shaved. These men had been out there in Tiananmen protesting, asking peacefully that the government allow some basic liberties that we take for granted in the United States and in many other nations of the world, and yet for that they where hunted down, tortured and jailed. In the prison they were making shoes and socks for export to the United States.

By now most Members know that the torture does not stop with those who demand political freedoms. On the religious front there is ongoing aggressive repression of those who want to practice their faith as they see fit. We see Falun Gong practitioners who are routinely rounded up and beaten and abused, and hundreds have been tortured to death while held in captivity.

I remember meeting in 1994 with a Catholic bishop by the name of Bishop Su. Bishop Su is a saintly man of God who has spent 27 years of his life being mistreated, tortured and oppressed in Chinese prison and detention centers. Here is a man whose only violation of the law was to practice his faith with faithfulness. He is a very holy man. In 1994 when he was out of prison briefly, I met with him in Beijing and there was not one ounce of malice or hate in him for the dictatorship that was so harsh and cruel to him. It was stunning. He spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation and how he hoped some day China would permit religious freedom; and for that, he has been severely punished.

After I left, he was arrested again and spent 9 days in jail. He was released and then he went into hiding, and in 1997 was recaptured again and put back into prison. In mid-November, we discovered that this great man was still alive, for we feared he might be dead, and was getting some medical care under heavy guard. Here he is 27 years in Chinese jails, a Roman Catholic bishop, a holy man, and he is just one example of many.

Protestant underground believers, Catholics, Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims who have been repressed and even more so recently under the pretext of post-9/11 they are good, honest people, and the government of China enslaves them and mistreats them.

As my colleagues know, China has been designated a CPC country, a country of particular concern, by the U.S. State Department because of its ongoing violations of religious liberties and rights. That's a serious designation shared by rogue states. And as my colleagues know, since 1979 there has been the one-child per family policy. The policy says that any child who happens to come along without explicit government permission is to be aborted. Heavy fines and pressure are imposed upon the women, particularly. They call it social compensation fees. The fee can be six times the annual salaries of the parents, compelling them to abort that baby. Forced abortion and forced sterilization are commonplace in China.

This resolution calls upon the government to cease their horrific attack on the human family and upon women. It is a violation of their basic human rights. It is violence against women, and violence against the child as well.

What this resolution does in sum is to call on the administration, and on all interested parties at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, which will convene in mid-March, to take up a resolution to bring out the facts and to scrutinize and condemn the lack of human rights in China today and not bury it under the table, which unfortunately all of us have done to some extent; and certainly, the U.N. has done it for years.

I would hope that the administration, and I believe they will, will try to get such a resolution passed. We have tried six times. We have not succeeded. One reason is that the Chinese government is very adroit at intimidating other countries or giving them foreign aid so they will back what we call a no-action motion that will be offered in Geneva. Even with that as a possibility, and most likely a probability, I think we have a moral duty and obligation to raise Chinese human rights abuses and raise the issue as aggressively as we can for the victims who cannot speak or fend for themselves.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf), the man who authored the International Religious Freedom Act 5 years ago.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 ½ minutes to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of the time.

I want to thank, first of all, the gentleman from California (Mr. Cox) of the Select Committee on Homeland Security for his very eloquent statement and to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) and to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) and the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. McCollum) and especially to the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde), who is a very strong and steadfast supporter of human rights around the globe, including China, and of course the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), who also speaks out boldly on these issues.

I would just say finally, Mr. Speaker, that one of the great leaders of the whole human rights movement in China is a man by the name of Harry Wu. Most people know about him. He is a man who has an impeccable reputation for honesty, for courage. He spent 19 years in the Chinese laogai system and suffered immensely for it. I will never forget when he helped us organize one of our first committee hearings when I chaired the Committee on International Operations and Human Rights on the laogai. He brought in six survivors of the laogai. One of those survivors was Palden Gyatso, a Buddhist monk who tried to get through security into the Rayburn Building bringing the instruments of torture that are routinely used and deployed to abuse prisoners in the laogai, including cattle prods and the like, horrible, horrific implements, and he was stopped, obviously, by the guards who were wondering what is this all about. We had to go down and usher him through. Those kinds of instruments, Mr. Speaker, are commonplace. Torture is commonplace.

The gentleman from California (Mr. Cox) talked about all these promises that are made time after time. They sign covenants. They say they are going to do this. The Chinese government routinely does not follow through, and so it will be with the most recent property rights. They make promises, and routinely it is predictable they do not follow through. And I just want to pay a special tribute to Harry Wu for his great leadership.

The ICRC has been trying for years, the Red Cross, to get into the Chinese prisons. They cannot get in because it is closed, because torture is routinely used against political and religious prisoners and against other prisoners as well. If they are arrested for just about anything, the way they get their conviction is to compel a confession out of them by torturing them.

Let me also remind Members, too, and the gentleman from California (Mr. Cox) made mention of this as well, forced abortion is commonplace in China. Brothers and sisters are illegal. Women are compelled to have their children destroyed because they do not fit into a grandiose plan by this dictatorship. That too is an egregious human rights abuse. At the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal it was construed to be a crime against humanity. It is a crime against humanity in 2004 as it is practiced in the People's Republic of China. This resolution puts us on record against it and says let us take our case to the UN Human Rights Commission and hopefully we can garner sufficient votes to censure this despicable behavior. I hope we have unanimous support for this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank, first of all, the gentleman from California (Mr. Cox) of the Select Committee on Homeland Security for his very eloquent statement and to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) and to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) and the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. McCollum) and especially to the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde), who is a very strong and steadfast supporter of human rights around the globe, including China, and of course the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), who also speaks out boldly on these issues.

Mr. Speaker, one of the great leaders in the whole human rights movement in China is a man by the name of Harry Wu. Most people know about him. He is a man who has an impeccable reputation for honesty, persistence, and courage. He is a hero of democracy. He spent 19 years in the Chinese laogai system and suffered immensely for it. His witness is a rebuke to the hardliners in Beijing. I will never forget when he helped us organize one of our first committee hearings on PRC abuse back when I chaired the Committee on International Operations and Human Rights. The hearing was on the laogai. He brought in six survivors of the laogai. One of those survivors was Palden Gyatso, a Buddhist monk who tried to get through security into the Rayburn Building bringing the instruments of torture that are routinely used and deployed to abuse prisoners in the laogai, including cattle prods and the like, horrible, horrific implements. He was stopped, obviously, by the guards who were wondering what is this all about. We had to go down and usher him through. Sadly those kinds of torture instruments, Mr. Speaker, are commonplace in the PRC. Torture is commonplace.-An everyday occurrence.

The gentleman from California (Mr. Cox) talked about PRC promises made but never kept. They sign covenants. They say they are going to do this. It makes good headlines. The Chinese government, however, routinely does not follow through, and so it will be with the most recent property rights announcement. They make promises, and it is predictable they do not follow through.

The Internation Committee for Red Cross has been trying for years, to get into the Chinese prisons. To inspect and to hold the PRC to account. They cannot get in because it is closed, because torture is routinely used against political and religious prisoners and against other prisoners as well. If you are arrested for just about anything, watch out. The way PRC thugs get their conviction is to compel confessions out of the accused by torturing them.

Let me also remind Members, too, and the gentlelady from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) made mention of this as well, forced abortion is commonplace in China. Brothers and sisters are illegal because big brother in Beijing says so. Women are compelled to have their children destroyed because they do not fit into a grandiose plan of quotas and permission slips by the dictatorship. That too is an egregious human rights abuse. At the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal forced abortion was construed to be a crime against humanity. It is a crime against humanity in 2004 as it is practiced in the People's Republic of China. This resolution puts us on record against China's brutal one child per couple policy. This resolution admonishes the administration to take our case to the UN Human Rights Commission and work to garner sufficient votes to censure this despicable government behavior. I hope we have unanimous support for this resolution.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Schrock). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New Jersey
(Mr. Smith) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 530, as amended.
The question was taken.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of those present have voted in the affirmative.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

END

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