CECC Commissioners Say Transparency About 1989 Events a “Vital Concern” for Those Seeking More Productive U.S.-China Relations
June 1, 2017
(Washington, DC)—A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift restrictions on public discussion of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression and to release individuals detained for commemorating the June 4 anniversary and human rights lawyers detained in the “709” crackdown.
In the letter, Commissioners expressed their belief that “greater transparency, adherence to international standards, and the development of the rule of law are the keys to advancing a range of mutual bilateral interests from fighting corruption to building investor confidence, from ensuring cybersecurity to maintaining stability and security in the Pacific…an honest accounting of the events of 1989 will reap domestic and global benefits for the Chinese government and the Chinese people.” Text of the letter can be found below.
Joining Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, respectively the CECC’s Chair and Cochair, in signing the letter were Commissioners Senators Jeff Merkley and Tom Cotton and Representatives Timothy Walz, Robert Pittenger, Randy Hultgren, and Marcy Kaptur.
The Commissioners also said in the letter that they were “gravely troubled” by the nationwide campaign targeting Chinese human rights lawyers and rights advocates that started in July 2015 and asked the Chinese President to unconditionally release those still detained and investigate reports of torture, including the forced ingestion of “unknown substances with adverse psychological and physical effects.”
Among others, the Commissioners urged the release of Tang Jingling, Jiang Tianyong, Wang Quanzhang, Wu Gan, Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong) and Su Changlan. These, and other prisoners of conscience cases, are featured as part of the CECC’s #FreeChinasHeroes initiative.
CECC Releases New Analysis on the Suppression of Wukan Village Protests: The analysis concludes that official corruption and lack of effective redress mechanisms lay at the heart of the protests in Wukan, China’s “Democracy Village” in Guangdong province, and the location of repeated demonstrations over government land grabs since 2011. Chinese officials’ suppression of Wukan village in 2016 has dampened observers’ previous hopes for grassroots democratic reforms and legitimate public participation in China.
Text of Commissioner’s Letter:
June 1, 2017
His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
Dear President Xi:
We write as members of the bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on the 28th anniversary of the violent suppression of nationwide demonstrations in support of democratic reform in China that took place in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and other cities in China in the spring of 1989.
We solemnly commemorate the Tiananmen massacre each year in the U.S. Congress because of the lives lost and persons permanently injured, because of the profound impact the event has had on U.S.-China relations, because so many former student leaders have made important and lasting contributions to global understanding of China, and because the Chinese people themselves are unable to mark this event.
The ongoing prohibition of public and online discussion of what transpired in the spring and summer of 1989 has done more to negatively shape global perceptions of the Chinese government than anything else in your country’s recent history. Open information about the Tiananmen massacre and its aftermath is crucial for Chinese citizens, and is a vital concern to those of us seeking more productive U.S.-China relations.
We respectively ask that your government allow uncensored, public discussions of the Tiananmen protests and to end retaliation against those, like the Tiananmen Mothers, seeking information about family members who died or disappeared on or after June 3 and 4, 1989.
We remain concerned about those who are imprisoned, detained, or held under other types of official restrictions in connection with their attempts to commemorate the Tiananmen protests, including Yu Shiwen who took part in the protests in 1989 and is now reportedly in poor health due to a stroke he had in detention, and others such as Tang Jingling, Chen Yunfei, Chen Xi (Chen Youcai), Liu Shaoming, Xu Zhiqiang (Sheng Guan), and Yuan Xinting (Yuan Chaoyang). We have been seeking the release of these individuals for the past three years, and we respectfully ask that they be unconditionally released to demonstrate your government’s commitment to transparency about the history of the Tiananmen protests. We also urge the release of Fu Hailu, Luo Fuyu, Zhang Juanyong, and Chen Bing, who were detained in 2016 in connection with the production of satirical liquor bottles meant to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen protests.
We are also gravely troubled by the sweeping, nationwide campaign—the “709 Crackdown”—that targeted Chinese rights lawyers and rights advocates starting on July 9, 2015. The reports of torture in detention, forced disappearances, and public confessions are particularly troubling as are the intimidation and illegal detentions faced by family members. We ask that Jiang Tianyong, Wang Quanzhang, Zhou Shifeng, Gou Hongguo (Ge Ping), Zhai Yanmin, and Wu Gan be unconditionally released and that you investigate reports of torture, particularly reports indicating that those detained were forced to ingest large amounts of unknown substances with adverse psychological and physical effects. The ongoing campaign to imprison, torture, and disbar human rights lawyers undermines your public commitments to develop the rule of law in China. Moreover, we urge you to release Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong), Hu Shigen, Xie Wenfei, Su Changlan, Huang Qi, Liu Feiyue, and others detained or imprisoned for their rights advocacy.
We make the above requests respectfully in the spirit of improving U.S.-China relations. We firmly believe that greater transparency, adherence to international standards, and the development of the rule of law are the keys to advancing a range of mutual bilateral interests from fighting corruption to building investor confidence, from ensuring cybersecurity to maintaining stability and security in the Pacific. We believe an honest accounting of the events of 1989 will reap domestic and global benefits for the Chinese government and the Chinese people.
We thank you for considering our request.