I woke to read a powerful but thoroughly unsettling piece by China dissident Yu Jie. He opens with the following. He said, ‘‘Chinese dissident writers exiled to the West today get a very different response than Soviet writers received not long ago.’’

I would even go further than Mr. Yu. Chinese defectors get a very different response, as evidenced by a story that broke days ago about a senior Communist Party official in China that reportedly attempted to defect to the United States and was turned away after his request for asylum was rejected.

We should not be silent, as this administration has been.

Returning to Yu Jie, this soft-spoken man who I recently met endured beatings and torture from Chinese secret police. He asserts that ‘‘China is a greater threat than the Soviet Union ever was, but now the West,’’ he said, ‘‘lacks visionary politicians such as Ronald Reagan to stand up to that threat.’’ I could not agree more. In fact, just last week, along with a number of other Members, we urged President Obama in a letter signed by a number of Members to do what Reagan has done. We urged him to meet with the families of these dissidents. We urged the President to publicly and privately raise the cases of six prominent Chinese citizens who have suffered greatly at the hands of their own government, among them, Gao.

Silence on human rights abuse in China has emboldened Beijing

It’s clear that the current approach to China is not working. We are losing jobs. Quiet diplomacy whereby grave human rights and religious freedom abuses are reportedly discussed in private meetings, but rarely if ever raised publicly, has not yielded any results and in fact has emboldened—it has emboldened—the Chinese Government.

We should not forget the persecuted church. The Cardinal Kung Foundation says that 25 Catholic bishops in the underground church are under house arrest. Protestant pastors are in jail. A Tibetan nun just set herself aflame on Sunday because of the activity, and the list goes on.

Quiet diplomacy whereby grave human rights and religious freedom abuses are reportedly discussed in private meetings, but rarely if ever raised publicly, has not yielded any results and in fact has emboldened—it has emboldened—the Chinese Government.

But when you look at this in context with this next thing, these issues would have featured, I am sure prominently, in a trip that Suzan Johnson Cook, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, was ready to take to China last week. It is my understanding that her trip has been canceled. Her request to meet with Chinese Government officials was denied and a visa was denied. So the special ambassador for this administration cannot get to China, cannot even get a visa. And yet when you have people who are putting people in jail and torturing people, it begs the question, has the department protested this action? Has the Secretary or the White House protested that their own ambassador cannot even get a visa to go to China?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, ‘‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.’’

America is a friend to the imprisoned human rights lawyer. America is a friend to the young Tibetan nun who just set herself aflame. America is a friend to the tortured human rights advocates the Catholic bishops, the Protestant pastors, and we should not be silent, as this administration has been

 

Chris Smith – Member of US House of Representatives