DHARAMSHALA, July 28: The United States has said that it would seek improvements in China’s human rights record, including its treatment of ethnic minorities, during talks on human rights next week.
The United States and China are scheduled to hold their annual dialogue on human rights on Tuesday and Wednesday in the southern city of Kunming, the State Department announced on Friday.
“The promotion of human rights remains a key tenet of US foreign policy, including toward China, and we are committed to continuing candid and in-depth discussion with the Chinese government on this issue,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeya and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of International Organisations and Conferences Director-General Li Junhua will lead their respective delegations in the dialogue.
“The two sides will discuss rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labor rights, rights of ethnic minorities, and other human rights issues over the course of the dialogue,” Psaki said.
The US delegation will also visit Beijing for discussions with “officials and civil society representatives.”
The two nations started the annual human rights dialogue in the wake of China’s 1989 clampdown on demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, although Beijing refused talks from 2002 to 2008 out of anger at US criticism.
“The Human Rights Dialogue provides an important opportunity to elaborate on our concerns about China’s human rights record and to encourage progress, building on engagement on this topic throughout the year,” Psaki added.
The talks come on the backdrop of the continuing wave of self-immolations in Tibet, in which as many as 120 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
On July 6, Chinese security forces opened live fire and lobbed tear gas
on a crowd of unarmed Tibetans gathered to offer prayers on the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Tawu region of eastern Tibet. Several Tibetans received serious injuries and are reportedly in critical condition.
Earlier this month, the US said that it raised concerns over the human rights
situation in Tibet and Uighur areas during the two-day US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington DC from July 10-11.
In a joint press statement following the meeting, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said the US “expressed ongoing concerns about human rights in China, particularly recent instability in Tibetan and Uighur areas of China.”