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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Rice Presses China on Human Rights

July 2, 2008

June 30, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) -- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pressed
China's leaders Monday on sensitive human rights issues, but said she
was encouraged by their decision to hold talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys.

In meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao in
Beijing, Rice said she raised the cases of several dissidents
detained by China as well as the ruling Communist Party's controls on
the Internet.

"I think that is one of the brewing issues," Rice said as she
summarised their discussions on Internet freedoms.

"The Internet is becoming so ubiquitous. It shouldn't be something
used to constrain and limit political speech."

Differences over the international response to the political crisis
in Zimbabwe were also discussed, with Rice insisting the UN Security
Council had a key role to play despite China's preference for a
mainly African solution.

Rice said the talks also covered the recent progress in the
long-running campaign to end North Korea's nuclear weapons
programmes, problems in the international economy and climate change.

In brief comments at the start of their meeting, Hu thanked Rice for
visiting China's earthquake-hit Sichuan province on Sunday as well as
US assistance following the disaster in May that left nearly 90,000
people dead.

"This has fully demonstrated the warm feeling of the American people
towards the Chinese people," Hu said.

Rice told reporters the recent unrest in Tibet was also discussed,
with the top US diplomat expressing cautious optimism over Beijing's
decision to hold further talks with envoys of the region's spiritual
leader, the Dalai Lama.

"I am encouraged that there at least will be a second round of
talks," she said. "I hope that there will be some positive
developments and some momentum behind the talks."

However she repeated that the United States did not accept China's
accusations that the Dalai Lama was bent on achieving independence
for his Himalayan homeland, which has been ruled by China for nearly 60 years.

"The Dalai Lama is a figure of considerable moral authority. He is a
figure who has rejected violence. He is a figure who talks about
cultural and religious historical autonomy," she said.

"He doesn't push for political independence."

Her comments came as the Tibetan government-in-exile said envoys of
the Dalai Lama were expected to arrive in Beijing later Monday for
two days of talks with Chinese officials.

The talks, which China agreed to hold amid international pressure
following deadly unrest in Tibet in March, were due to be held on
June 11 but were postponed following the May 12 earthquake.

A first round of the talks was held in early May.

Rice would not reveal the names of the dissidents jailed by China
that she had raised with Wen and Hu, saying she preferred to wait
until there had been some action from the Chinese side on their cases.

However in an indication of some of the people potentially raised in
their conversations, Rice said she had discussed the issue of
restrictions on Internet bloggers in China.

Dozens of bloggers have reportedly been detained by China for
expressing views critical of the Chinese government.

China has been under sustained pressure to improve its human rights
record ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

But critics have said the government has gone in reverse and extended
enormous efforts to quell dissent in the lead up to the Games.

Rice's talks with China's leaders came on the second and final day of
her trip to China, which was the last stop on a three-nation tour to Asia.

She had visited Japan last week for the meeting of the Group of Eight
(G8) foreign ministers before going on to South Korea, where the
North's nuclear disarmament issue was the top focus.
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