Blinken Will Raise Human Rights Issue During China Trip, State Department Says

Dorothy Li
By Dorothy Li
April 24, 2024China News

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will raise American concerns about the Chinese regime’s handling of human rights during his three-day visit to China, the state department confirmed.

“In every engagement that we have had with the People’s Republic of China since the onset of this administration, human rights have always been on the agenda, and they will continue to be so,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said in response to a question from NTD, the Epoch Times’s sister media outlet, at a regular briefing on Wednesday.

“I have no doubt that human rights will be discussed this week while the Secretary is there.”

Mr. Blinken arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday afternoon, kicking off his second visit to China as secretary of state. The top U.S. diplomat will press the regime on issues ranging from Chinese aid to Russia, industrial overcapacity, to human rights, according to the State Department.

A day before his trip, the State Department released a report that Mr. Bliken said documented the “ongoing grave human rights abuses” in China. The groups targeted by the communist regime include persecuted minority groups, dissidents, foreign journalists, and adherents of spiritual faiths.

Pointing to the Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang, whom he called “victims of genocide and crimes against humanity,” Mr. Blinken said the 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices “documents atrocities reminiscent of humanity’s darkest moments.”

The State Department report also cited an Epoch Times interview with a former Chinese doctor who participated in the harvesting of organs inside a van guarded by armed soldiers.

The doctor, Zheng Zhi, has testified of hearing a Chinese military officer telling a Chinese military official they would pick a “top quality” kidney from a Falun Gong practitioner to replace the official’s ailing kidney.

Robert Gilchrist, a senior official for the State Department’s Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Bureau, told reporters that Mr. Bliken will “raise human rights at the highest levels and in the clearest way” while in China.

The top U.S. diplomat will start his mission by meeting with senior officials, business leaders, and students in the financial hub. He will travel to Beijing on Friday to have talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

He is expected to have additional talks with Xi Jinping, the leader of the communist regime. Xi received the visiting secretary of state in Beijing last July, but their talk wasn’t publicly confirmed until shortly before it took place.

Just hours before Mr. Bliken’s arrival, the U.S. Congress gave final approval to a defense package that includes roughly $8 billion for Taiwan and other partners in the Indo-Pacific region to confront Chinese aggression. The bill, which may lead to a potential ban on the Chinese-controlled video-sharing app TikTok, was signed into law by President Joe Biden later on Wednesday.

Mr. Bliken’s trip follows a similar visit by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who issued a blunt warning about Beijing’s aid to Moscow. She threatened that any companies, including those in China, would face “significant consequences” if they provided aid to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There are growing concerns that Beijing provided Moscow with critical materials and weapon components for its war with Ukraine. Ahead of his trip, a senior State Department said Mr. Blinken will press the Chinese side to curtail its support for Russia’s defense industrial base.

NTD Photo
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves on his arrival in Shanghai on April 24, 2024. (Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

“We’re prepared to take steps when we believe necessary against firms that are taking steps in contravention to our interests and in ways that … severely undermine security in both Ukraine and Europe,” the official said.

China observers cautioned that diplomacy won’t avert Beijing’s actions, given that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders have their own calculations in supporting Moscow.

“Russia will reciprocate with technology or other stuff that China has its eye on for some time, such as the warplane engines,” Chen Shih-min, an associate professor of politics at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, told The Epoch Times ahead of Mr. Bliken’s visit.

For China’s part, “Xi Jinping also doesn’t want the war in Ukraine to end quickly,” Mr. Chen said. One day the war drags on, “the United States is tied up with it. Xi Jinping can use the opportunity to go ahead with his plans in the Taiwan Strait, or the South China Sea.”

Mr. Chen cited an assessment by U.S. officials that found China was the source of 70 percent of machine tools—which can be used to produce ballistic missiles—imported by Russia in the last quarter of 2023.

China is by far the foremost supplier of chips to Russia. According to a recent report by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank, over 80 percent of the chips purchased by Russia since the onset of the Ukraine war have come directly from China.

There are signals that Beijing will not change its behaviors. At a regular briefing on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said its “right to conduct normal trade and economic exchanges” with Russia and others “should not be interfered with or disrupted.”

China and Russia have forged closer ties in recent years. Xi held talks with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier this month in a show of solidarity between the two neighbors. Weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi upgraded bilateral ties to a “no limits” partnership. Media reports indicated that the Kremlin chief would visit China in May. If confirmed, this will be Mr. Putin’s first international trip since he secured his fifth term in office in March.

It’s not just the CCP and the Kremlin. “I believe that Iran may be colluding with Russia and China behind the scenes” amid tensions in the Middle East, Mr. Chen said, adding that North Korea is also coordinating with the three countries.

Authoritarian regimes in Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang, and Tehran have formed a new “axis of evil,” Mr. Chen cautioned, posing a growing threat to the United States and other Western democracies.

Analysts expect Washington will ratchet up pressure on Beijing over Russia, especially in the run-up to the presidential election.

“If the CCP continues to provide Russian military resources, the [Biden] administration will take a tough stance toward China, whether it’s to safeguard the rule-based international order or for the upcoming [presidential] election,” Su Tzu-yun, a senior analyst from Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taipei, told The Epoch Times.

Jack Bradley, Eva Fu, Frank Fang, and Luo Ya contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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