Obama faces pressure to confront China on human rights and religious freedom

US President Obama has been pressed to discuss human rights with the Chinese President this week, according to China Aid.


In a letter, former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio and US Representative Chris Smith , who co-chair the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), urged Obama to address China's "severe erosion" of human rights and rule of law.

He is due to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a meeting while at the Nuclear Security Summit this week.

Rubio and Smith described the situation in China regarding the suppression of human rights as "broader in scope than any other period documented since the Commission started issuing Annual Reports in 2002".

They brought to attention the recent trend of "televised, presumably coerced 'confessions' on state television" as one example.

Highlighting that it is "in direct violation of Chinese law and international human rights norms", they also cited the "public humiliation" of Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai and rights lawyer Huang Liqun.

The letter also highlights the ongoing persecution of religious leaders and other civil society actors, including lawyers and legal advocates.

Rubio and Smith urge Obama to have a "full and frank discussion" with President Xi.

During a press conference entitled "Sidelining human rights: A strategic mistake the US cannot afford to make", Smith commented on the importance of raising human rights.

The Church in China is under pressure in some areas, particularly in Zhejiang Province where churches have been demolished, crosses torn down and pastors and lawyers imprisoned. Elsewhere it is allowed to flourish relatively unhindered.