Public Outcry Could Slow Ongoing Human-Rights Violations in China

National Catholic Reporter, July 16, 1993 | Go to article overview

Public Outcry Could Slow Ongoing Human-Rights Violations in China


A great opportunity was created in May when President Clinton renewed favorable trade conditions for China on the strict condition that China radically improve its record on human rights. Press and public can now focus the glare of publicity and outrage on the appalling things China continues to do to its own people.

Unlike President Bush, who twice vetoed attempts by Congress to improve China's performance on human rights, the Clinton White House made it clear that China will be placed in the penalty box on June 6, 1994, unless it releases its political prisoners, allows religious freedom, eases,.or ends its domination of Tibet, and in general observes the rights China agreed to observe when years ago it ratified the United Nations Covenant on Human Rights.

China has much to lose if it fails to amend its ways. Some $20 billion worth of toys and textiles exported annually to the United States will be subject to tariffs, China's bid for the Olympics in the year 2000 could be rejected, and the vast invasion of China by the West's megacorporations would be curtailed.

U.S. public opinion rather than any official action will determine the outcome. Asia Watch has lamented that the Clinton White House was not tougher on China. Likewise, all religious organizations monitoring China want to force an end to its savage and inhumane policies.

The U.S. Catholic, community has deep spiritual and emotional bonds with China because of the thousands of missionaries who did such heroic work there prior to their expulsion in 1949 with the fall of Peking.

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