Radio silence from White House Smith calls on Biden to meet with wives of two human rights defenders detained by Chinese Communist Party
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today called on President Biden to meet with Geng He and Sophie Luo—the wives of two renowned human rights defenders detained by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—after they testified at a congressional hearing that the White House has not reached out to either of them regarding the statuses of their husbands, Gao Zhisheng and Ding Jiaxi respectively.
“That has to change,” said Smith, who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Global Human Rights subcommittee hearing and vowed to introduce legislation requiring the Biden Administration to report to Congress on its efforts to pressure the Communist regime to free all prisoners of conscience.
“The United States must stand up to the Chinese Communist Party and make it clear that we will not ignore or trivialize these crimes,” said Smith, who has chaired more than 85 congressional hearings and markups on the CCP’s egregious human rights abuses.
Smith’s hearing—entitled “China’s Political Prisoners: Where’s Gao Zhisheng?”—comes amid peaking concerns that Chinese dictator Xi Jinping is escalating his crackdown on civil rights in China, issuing the longest prison sentencing of 14 years for civil activism earlier this month against human rights attorney Xu Zhiyong and another lengthy sentence of 12 years against human rights attorney Ding Jiaxi.
“The Biden Administration must step up and lead a global effort to free China’s prisoners of conscience,” said Smith. “We cannot afford to separate human rights from other interests—especially trade—sacrificing both Chinese victims and American values in the process.”
Geng He—who remains unsure if her husband Gao Zhisheng is even alive—testified that no one from the White House or State Department has contacted her in the
past 14 years, pleading that “just knowing he’s alive is enough.”
“As an innocent Chinese citizen, Gao Zhisheng has been kidnapped without trial for nearly six years without any news, which is a rare evil in the world,” He said.
At another hearing Smith chaired in 2012, Geng He testified that she had asked to meet with Vice President Joe Biden—which never happen—and for Biden to at least raise her husband’s case on the same day of the hearing (February 14, 2012) when he met with then Chinese Vice President (now President) Xi Jinping—which never happen either.
Gao’s daughter Grace also testified at another Smith hearing in 2013 that included five daughters of prisoners of conscience.
“Grace—and the other four daughters—made a special plea and asked President Obama to meet with them,” said Smith. “The daughters said that President Obama has two daughters that he loves so much and would empathize with their plight and advocate for their fathers. I tried for a year to make that happen. The White House told me that the President simply didn’t have the time to meet with the five daughters.”
“Based on my observation of all these cases, Chinese Communist Party and government operates without any rule of law, how can international community expect them to respect the international legal standards developed by democratic and civilized countries?” asked Luo. “How can we expect them to respect any commercial rules and laws which are the basis to do businesses?”
“This is the worst time since the Cultural Revolution,” said Fu. “Xi Jinping continues to quench religious freedom and human rights in China. Why has the international community not yet seen a single meeting between the President and Vice President with any one of the Family members of the Chinese prisoners of conscience?”
“The US has an incredible capacity to press the CCP to respect human rights, using both the vast economic relationship between our countries, as well as our incredible diplomatic resources around the world,” said Ambassador Bremberg. “The impunity with which the CCP has been able to commit these crimes thus far cannot persist.”