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Human Rights Report Question U.S. Policy on China

March 6, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department accused China today of engaging in ``widespread and well-documented human rights abuses,″ including arbitrary detention, forced confessions and torture.

The highly critical report is certain to touch off renewed debate in Congress about the administration’s policy of maintaining normal trade and economic ties with China.

The 42-page review of the rights situation in China is part of the State Department’s annual report on human rights conditions around the world.

It was released as a top Chinese official, Liu-hua Qiu, was due to arrive for talks with Secretary of State Warren Christopher, National Security adviser Anthony Lake and other officials.

The report said the rights problems in China stem from the intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms.

``Abuses included arbitrary and lengthy incommunicado detention, forced confession, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners,″ the report said.

``Prison conditions remained harsh. The government continued severe restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, privacy, movement and worker rights.″

It said the frequency of prisoner executions is such that these inmates are among the primary sources of organs for transplant. The Chinese media reported 1,100 death sentences in China last year, but the State Department report said the actual number was probably much higher.

Mike Jedrzejczyk, who follows the rights situation in China for Human Rights Watch-Asia, called the administration’s policy of engagement with Beijing ``a total disaster.″

He urged the administration to give high priority to the rights question in China at the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

President Clinton took office three years ago promising a tougher line on China, accusing President Bush of ``coddling″ Beijing. But in May 1994, he retreated from a threat to impose economic sanctions against Beijing, mindful of the huge economic stakes involved for the United States.

The administration has adopted the position that expanding trade and economic opportunity would lead to greater freedom for the Chinese people.

The report raises questions about that approach.

``The experience of China in the past few years demonstrates that while economic growth, trade and social mobility create an improved standard of living, they cannot by themselves bring about greater respect for human rights in the absence of a willingness by political authorities to abide by the fundamental international norms,″ the report said.

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