Senator Rubio Appointed Chair, Representative Smith Appointed Cochair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Senator Rubio Appointed Chair, Representative Smith Appointed Cochair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China

February 16, 2017

(Washington, DC)–U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China for the 115th Congress. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) as cochair.

“I am honored to serve as chair of the Commission, and I remain committed to exposing the brutality of the Chinese government and the heroic efforts of brave Chinese dissidents,” said Rubio. “As documented in our last annual report, President Xi is consolidating his own power through forced ideological conformity and the systematic persecution of human rights lawyers and defenders, and conditions in China are deteriorating. The situation is bleak for people of faith, women’s activists, labor advocates, and others, and their plight deserves the attention of American policymakers. The commission’s political prisoner database is an invaluable resource containing more than 1,400 active cases of political and religious prisoners. Each case represents a real person who is suffering or oppressed because of their beliefs or free expression.  The commission will shine a bright light on these abuses and press the Chinese government to change its behavior. I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Chris Smith who has a longstanding and unwavering commitment to promoting human rights in China and around the globe. Together, we will stand with Chinese dissidents and prisoners and be their voice, while urging administration officials to make these issues a priority in our bilateral relationship with China.”

“This bipartisan Commission plays an important role shining a bright light on human rights abuses in China. I am honored to serve as Commission cochair and to partner with Senator Marco Rubio, a true champion of the globe’s poor and persecuted, in this crucial work,” said Smith.  “The past several years have been dark times for China’s reformers, rights defenders, religious communities, and women facing draconian population controls. The major issue facing U.S.-China relations moving forward is whether China will recognize its citizens’ human rights and their desire to live in a democratic state ruled by law.  It is time to develop new policy approaches that mesh our interests and values because China’s failure to abide by its international agreements are not just human rights issues, but issues critically linked to economic relations and regional security. U.S. foreign policy must ensure that China plays by international rules so that our workers can compete on a level playing field; our food, investments, and cyberspace are safe and secure, and universally recognized human rights are respected and protected.”

Congress created the Commission in 2000 to monitor China’s compliance with international human rights standards, to encourage the development of the rule of law in the PRC, and to establish and maintain a list of victims of human rights abuses in China. The Commission submits an annual report to the President and Congress every October on these subjects. The Commission’s 2016 Annual Report is available here.  The Commission’s Political Prisoner Database, with information on over 1,400 currently detained prisoners of conscience in China, can be searched and accessed here.

The Commission is comprised of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials. The Senate Majority Leader, in consultation with the Senate Minority Leader, names the Senate’s commissioners. Likewise, the Speaker of the House, in consultation with the House Minority Leader, chooses the House Members of the Commission. The President appoints the five Executive Branch commissioners.