Statement by Rep. Chris Smith Marking the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China
On this day, we honor all those who have sacrificed to advance human rights in China, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and all those who died 30 years ago during the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen protests. This is not a day for celebration, but remembrance of the Chinese Communist’s Party brutality, its authoritarianism and its efforts to undermine the American economy and society, aided and abetted by some all too eager to make a fast dollar in China. The Communist Party takes credit for China’s astonishing economic rise. But the Chinese people could have produced the same results without the Party’s leadership and without the bloodshed and tragic loss of millions of lives.
On this anniversary, we remember rights defenders and human rights lawyers who face torture, discrimination and detention. We remember the millions of Uyghurs and others forcibly detained in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, actions which may constitute crimes against humanity. We remember all the women in China who were forcibly sterilized or forced to abort their child to further the horrific and misguided One-Child Policy. We remember those who have been punished for simply seeking to practice their religion without fear or restrictions—Protestants, Catholics, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims and Falun Gong—all have faced unspeakable repression.
The increasingly authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party has undermined U.S.-China relations. It has threatened Hong Kong’s autonomy as well as labor rights and media freedoms. The deterioration of human rights under Chairman Xi Jinping is a global concern that requires vocal and persistent U.S. leadership. While I believe that freedom is the desire of every human heart, the arc of history does not bend toward justice unless all freedom-loving people take steps to recognize the threat and actively seek to address it.
During the 1990s, I presided over a series of hearings about human rights and China’s WTO membership. I remember the sage advise of so many Chinese dissidents, but the words of Wei Jingsheng still resonate twenty years later. At one hearing he said—
“If the United States will not fight the world's largest tyranny politically, then inevitably, it will have to fight it economically, and eventually, militarily. Therefore, the only way to preserve peace and freedom begins by comprehending democracy's greatest enemy, and countering it effectively.”
The world slumbered while Communist China amassed great wealth, influence and power. We should not be surprised that they are now using that power to advance an ideology that is starkly opposed to democratic values and the system of alliances and rules that have benefited the world since the end of WWII. It is not too late to avoid economic or military fights, but U.S. foreign policy must be reworked and reimagined to meet the China challenge.
We must start to see U.S.-China relations through the lens of competition. We must draw hard lines of reciprocity and adherence to international standards before we sign any trade deals. We must strengthen our military and diplomatic resources to meet any emerging threats emanating from Beijing. And recognize that human rights improvements cannot be separated from our other national interests.
The health of the U.S. economy and environment, the safety of our food and drug supplies, the security of our investments and personal information in cyberspace and the stability of the Pacific region will depend on China complying with international law, allowing the free flow of news and information, and the developing an independent judiciary and civil society.
We must also remember always that it is the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people, with whom we are competing. It is the Communist Party in China that needs to be relegated to the ash heap of history.
I believe that someday China will be free. Someday, the people of China will be able to enjoy all of their God-given rights. And a nation of free Chinese men and women will honor and celebrate the heroes who have sacrificed so much, and so long, for freedom.