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ICC Note: Chinese human right activists sent an open letter to U.S. and Chinese representatives as they begin a dialog on human rights in Washington August 13-14.  In light of China’s recent crackdown, and the detention of over 300 lawyers and activists, these talks come at a crucial time.  Chinese President Xi Jinping is also scheduled to visit the U.S. in September.

By staff reporter

08/12/2015 China (

Thirty-six lawyers and human rights activists have signed an open letter, urging the United States and China to engage in a process of dialogue that is open to civil society scrutiny. At the same time, they call for the repeal of laws that violate China’s own constitution.

Published by Chinese Human Rights Defender (CHRD), the letter comes as the 2015 China-US Human Rights Dialogue gets underway tomorrow and Friday in Washington. At the same time, at least 320 lawyers and activists have been the victims of repression for trying to uphold the human and civil rights of ordinary Chinese. Of these, 23 have either been detained on criminal charges, disappeared, or are under residential surveillance in unknown locations.

Some of the cases are well known. They include people like jailed Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo;* his wife Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest without charges for four years; journalist Gao Yu; prisoners of conscience Wang Bingzhang, Chen Xi, Zhu Yufu and many others. All of them have health problems but have been denied proper medical treatment and drugs.

The letter, which follows below, calls on the Chinese and US governments to engage in true dialogue on issues that are not limited to the economy.

We have learned that the 2015 China-US Human Rights Dialogue will take place on August 13-14 in Washington, DC. We have some concerns that we want to raise, as we are lawyers and activists committed to safeguarding human rights.

We hold the view that human rights are universal, and that such rights should not be replaced or ignored by any government citing “internal affairs,” nor substituted with subsistence rights and development rights. Nor shall human rights be suppressed under the pretence of anti-terrorism and stability maintenance. It is undeniable that the China-US Human Rights Dialogues held before provided platforms for the two governments to exchange views and drew public attention through the media. Even so, these Dialogues did not substantially help improve China’s human rights situation, which, on the contrary, has deteriorated in the past two years.

What should not be ignored is that this round of the Human Rights Dialogue takes place in the backdrop of a massive police operations, since a raid on July 9 and even before, that has involved enforced involuntary disappearances, interrogation, and harassment of lawyers and other rights activists, and during a time when the government has successively put out a series of laws and amendments that aim to legalize human rights suppression. Under these circumstances, we have reasons to expect the Dialogue to play a positive role in containing the deterioration of human rights conditions in China.

We put forward several requests, as follows:

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