CECC Chairs Say Trials of Rights Advocates and Religious Leader a Mockery of Justice

CECC Chairs Say Trials of Rights Advocates and Religious Leader a Mockery of Justice

Urge U.S. Government to lead international effort ahead of the G-20 Summit to seek release of rights advocates and an end to coerced confessions

For Immediate Release

August 4, 2016

(Washington, DC)—The chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Representative Christopher H. Smith, chair, and Senator Marco Rubio, cochair, issued the following statements in response to the public confessions and trials involving human rights lawyers and religious leader Hu Shigen and the harassment of their families. With next month’s G-20 summit being held in China, both chairs urged the United States to lead an international effort to demand that the Chinese government drop all charges against the legal professionals and rights advocates detained during the sweeping July 2015 crackdown, cease coerced, forced, and televised “confessions” which are a mockery of justice, and stop harassing and otherwise mistreating the family members, including the wives and children, of those unjustly detained.      

“The charade of forced ‘confessions’ and show trials immeasurably damages the Chinese government’s global standing and obliterates any remaining confidence in President Xi’s ability to foster the rule of law in China,” said Representative Christopher Smith. “In a just world, Hu Shigen, Zhou Shifeng, Zhai Yanmin, Wang Yu, Li Heping and other rights advocates would be lauded for their contributions to society, not seen as security threats. These developments should come as no surprise as lawyers, Christian ‘house church’ leaders, and democracy advocates were all identified in 2012 as enemies of the state. The international community needs to admit that the expansive view of national security advanced under President Xi’s leadership has real implications for regional stability and bilateral cooperation. With the G-20 Summit opening in China next month, world leaders should jointly express grave concerns about Beijing’s blatant disregard for human rights and the rule of law. The United States must lead such an effort and work with like-minded countries who recognize the strategic consequences of China’s political repression. No one’s interests are served by China’s shift to a hard authoritarianism; a clear message must be sent, both publicly and privately, connecting the advance of liberty and the rule of law to China’s interest in its future prosperity and global influence.” 

“More than a year after Xi Jinping's sweeping crackdown on the Chinese rights community and legal profession, the situation continues to deteriorate, and no one is held to account,” said Senator Marco Rubio. “It has been a bleak several days for the cause of human rights and rule of law in China.  In the span of less than a week the wives of prominent rights defenders, including Li Heping, have been detained and held under home confinement, while esteemed lawyer Wang Yu has been paraded on television to ‘confess’ to alleged crimes, and Beijing Fengrui Law Firm director Zhou Shifeng and activists Hu Shigen and Zhai Yanmin have undergone secret trials on trumped up charges.  These unjust proceedings grossly violate the defendants' rights and they must not be tolerated. China cannot continue to benefit from the international rules-based system, while making a mockery of the rule of law at home.”