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‘We All Want a Bright Future for China, That's Why We Have to Push for Change'

Location: Washington, DC

Pelosi: ‘We All Want a Bright Future for China, That's Why We Have to Push for Change'

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Mark Kennedy (R-MN), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom at a press conference in her office in the Capitol this afternoon about human rights in China. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"I am honored to join Congressman Frank Wolf, an unmatched leader in his commitment to human rights. From Sudan to Sierra Leone to China and Tibet, Frank Wolf has used his position in Congress to give a voice to the suffering of people all over the world. We all want to commend and thank Congressman Wolf.

"I also am pleased to be here with my colleague from California, Congressman Lantos, who for years has been the chair or co-chair of the Human Rights Caucus in the Congress. I have said before that people all over the world are deeply in his debt - people whose names he does not know, and people who do not know his name - because he has been their champion.

"Chris Smith - we have been through many battles for human rights all over the world. Chris knows the high regard in which I hold his credentials as a champion for human rights in our country. We welcome you, Mr. Kennedy, to the fold in our struggle for human rights.

"We commend the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for completing a comprehensive and insightful report on religious freedom in China. The commissioners, including Chairman Michael Cromartie, as well as Preeta Bansal, and Commissioner Richard Land are with us today. They are shining a bright light on the continued crackdown on Chinese citizens who seek the freedom of religion, speech and assembly.

"This past August, the International Religious Freedom Commission visited China and documented the Chinese government's intensifying crackdown on religious freedom. Over the past year, the Chinese government has tightened its control over religious leaders, journalists, intellectuals, the Internet, and non-governmental organizations; violated the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief contravening both the Chinese Constitution and international norms; intensified a campaign to bring out all "unregistered" religious activity under government control - by enticement or by force; continued to control the Uighur Muslim religious activity; required Tibetans to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, imprisoned individuals for owning pictures of the Dalai Lama, and prohibited any public display of devotion to him.

"For too long, the United States has pursued a policy of trickle down liberty - first economic freedom, and then political freedom and religious freedom will follow. The 16 years since Tiananmen have exposed this policy as the illusion that it is.

"Despite more than a decade of concessions from Washington, our trade deficit with China has grown from $2 billion a year to over $2 billion a week. Remember, Chris and Tom, when we started to work on human rights in China? We thought that with a $2 to $3 billion dollar annual budget, we would have tremendous leverage. Little did we know, that despite all the talk that trade was going to become more fair, instead those obstacles still remain, and we are at a deficit of $2 to $3 billion a week. Over a third of China's exports come to the United States; only 4 percent of our exports are allowed into China.

"President Bush will travel to China next week to meet with President Hu Jintao. My colleagues and I will be requesting that he make human rights a top priority in the bilateral agenda.

"We once again call on Beijing to release the thousands of prisoners of conscience whose only crime was to demand their basic human rights.

"The United States government should press for the release of the Panchen Lama, who has not been seen in more than a decade after being kidnapped by the Chinese government. Think of it, this was the successor to the Dalai Lama, and the Chinese Government kidnapped him as a small child and he has not been seen since. We also call for the release of Dr. Yang Jianli, a pro-democracy activist and permanent U.S. resident who was arrested in 2002 and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.

"We all want a bright future for China and a wonderful relationship between our two nations: politically, culturally, diplomatically and economically. That is why we also have to push for change.

"I hope that one day the world's most populous nation can at last be called the world's largest democracy.

"In that spirit, I would like to yield to the very distinguished gentleman whom I described earlier, a champion for human rights, a model to us all, unsurpassed in his effectiveness, Frank Wolf."

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