Renewing the U.S.-China human rights dialogue after a six-year cutoff, a senior U.S. official urged the Chinese government Tuesday to improve its rights record as a way to sweeten the atmosphere for the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.
David J. Kramer, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said resumption of the formal government-to-government dialogue that was suspended in 2002 should be seen as a first step in that direction. Another round of talks has been scheduled before the end of the year, he said at a news conference.
“We think that quite a bit has changed in the last six years,” Kramer said, adding: “We have renewed the dialogue now because we think there may be a basis for making more progress.”
AP via International Herald Tribune reports that several Chinese activists were harassed ahead of the Beijing talks.
Mo Shaoping, a lawyer who often defends activists, said police warned him not to accept a lunch invitation from U.S. officials. He said he went anyway.
Another activist reported being followed by police.
“I myself now have a police car parked in front of the door. Wherever I go, a police car follows,” AIDS activist Wan Yanhai wrote in an article published Monday on the popular Chinese-language site Boxun.com. The U.S.-based site is banned in China.