United States Congress

October 31, 2003

Protect Democracy in America

Cosponsor H. Con. Res. 304

- Protect Local Officials from Chinese Pressure

U.S. Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen initiated a letter calling their colleagues to condemn the intense pressure on the local elected government officials from Chinese consular officials.

Their dear-colleague letter says, "Persecution of religious groups by the Chinese government, while appalling, is no longer headline news." "... the members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement face harassment, imprisonment and even death for expressing their beliefs in China."

The letter says, "Less well known is that the Chinese government is trying to stifle freedom of speech and freedom of religion here in the United States. Local government officials across America have used resolutions to support Falun Gong practitioners in their communities and condemn Chinese human rights abuses. In response, they have received intense pressure from Chinese consular officials, and in some cases even been persuaded to recant their support for Falun Gong and free speech."

The congresswomen say in the letter, "That's why we have authored a resolution condemning the pressure on local leaders from Chinese officials and supporting the rights of local leaders to defend human rights and their constituents. In the United States, we honor freedom of religion and freedom of speech -- they are two of our most basic rights. Local officials in America have every right to stand up for those values by supporting the rights of their constituents. The Chinese government should not stand between our citizens and their rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. Yet that is what is happening."

"The House has been very supportive of Falun Gong in China, voting in the 107th Congress 420-0 on H. Con. Res. 188, which condemned the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong members there. That was a bold step toward improving freedom around the world; H. Con. Res. 304 will ensure that as we work to improve human rights in China, we do not allow human rights -- and the Constitution -- to be trampled here in America. Please see reverse side for a list of members that voted 'aye' on H. Con. Res. 188."