According to Voice of America (VOA), on Monday December 10, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China held a Human Rights Caucus regarding law and human rights issues in China. Besides the family members of those who are currently detained by the Chinese authorities due to dissident political views, other conference attendees included representatives from the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, labor rights groups, Falun Gong, and the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.

The first speaker at the conference was Mr. Alan Adler, the Executive Director of Friends of Falun Gong USA. Mr. Adler said that with China's entry into the WTO and its obtaining authorization to host the Olympic Games in 2008, Falun Gong had hoped Congress would aggressively advocate for the basic freedom of belief in China. Unfortunately however, in reading the Congressional-Executive Commission's 2002 Annual Report, this was not the impression given -- at least not on the issue of Falun Gong. Falun Gong was only mentioned in passing in several sections of the report, when it should have been a focal point.

Thousands of Falun Gong Practitioners Are Detained

Mr. Adler said that ever since the Chinese government categorized Falun Gong as a [slanderous term omitted], it has detained tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners. In some jails, Falun Gong practitioners constitute the majority of those detained. Further, Falun Gong practitioners are mistreated and abused even more than the criminals. Mr. Adler said that even under these repressive conditions, there are still millions of people practicing Falun Gong in China. Mr. Adler said that Falun Gong has become the primary voice against torture and belief-based persecution in China. Therefore, Mr. Adler suggested that the Congressional-Executive Commission on China should attach more importance, and give more public support, to Falun Gong in its future work. He also suggested that the Commission should list Falun Gong as a major factor in the issue of human rights in China, and that the Falun Gong situation should be brought up in all communications between the United States President and representatives of the Chinese government. [For a full speech of Mr. Adler, please visit http://www.fofg.org/editorial/aadler_speech_ceec.html]

In addition, Mr. Adler said that he has conducted business in China for many years, always working hard to promote labor rights within foreign companies doing business in China. But his experience has been that should foreign companies try to promote basic labor rights among employees (for instance, organizing a free labor union), the Chinese authorities will spare no efforts in preventing and suppressing these endeavors. He therefore believes that it is very difficult to improve the human rights situation in China without the support of the U.S. government. More pressure should be imposed on the Chinese authorities by Western countries in order to oblige the current regime to improve human rights.

Beijing Interferes with Voice of America

The next speaker was Ms. Joan Mower, Communications Coordinator of the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the International Broadcasting Bureau. She focused on interference from Beijing in the broadcast of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA). Ms. Mower said that, in spite of the ever-increasing economic and official communication between China and the United States, interference from Beijing is on the rise. For example, in Lasha, Tibet, it is almost impossible to receive radio signals from VOA. In addition, the VOA and RFA websites were totally blocked by Beijing (there are about 19,000 websites blocked in China). Ms. Mower said the U.S. has always regarded freedom of the press as an indispensable part of human rights. She pointed out that Beijing was suppressing human rights by suppressing freedom of the press. Ms. Mower also mentioned that quite a few Chinese people were hostile to the U.S. due to the current regime's blockade of news from outside of China and because of their strengthening of propaganda against western countries. A recent independent investigation indicated that in some large cities in China, more than 60% of the people regard the U.S. as the number one enemy of China. Ms. Mower said that during this critical time when the U.S. is doing its best to launch a war against terrorism, this kind of attitude from the people in China, a country with 20% of the world's population, is obviously not beneficial to the U.S. In conclusion, Ms. Mower urged the Congressional-Executive Commission to put forth efforts so that more U.S. news correspondents can enter China and do reports freely. She also urged the Commission to stop China's interference with the International Broadcasting Bureau.