The persecution of exiled dissident Chen Guangsheng’s family, the disappearance of Chinese legal pioneer Gao Zhisheng, the harassment of Liu Xia (right), a leading poet married to imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, “demonstrate the comfort that Beijing feels in flouting its legal obligations to its own people and in outright lying to the international community,” says Jared Genser , a leading human rights advocate.
“Given that continued inattention only breeds more persecution, a new strategy is desperately needed,” he writes for The Washington Post:
First, the clear violation of China’s commitments and its lies must be directly and publicly confronted. Failure to squarely address the government’s impunity only emboldens those in the Chinese government who interpret quiet diplomacy and private protestations as a license to oppress. It was disheartening, for example, when President Obama failed to sign a letter to incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping last December from 134 Nobel laureates pressing for Liu Xiaobo’s release. ….
Second, in instances in which Chinese officials refuse to engage as honest actors, it is incumbent upon the U.S. administration to meet with Chinese dissidents and their families who can speak with unique authority about the persecution they continue to face in China….
Finally, each high-level meeting with Chinese officials should include a substantive discussion of human rights issues relevant to the subject of the meeting. International standards on political, social, economic, environmental and cultural rights inform nearly all aspects of modern life.
“Prioritizing a bilateral relationship that consistently emphasizes fundamental freedoms would allow the administration to articulate a coherent strategy for addressing human rights while fostering the conditions for a real dialogue,” Genser contends.
Jared Genser, a former Reagan-Fascell fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, founded Freedom Now, a legal advocacy organization that serves as international pro bono counsel to the families of Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng and Liu Xiaobo.