Date: September 23, 2015
By: Associated Press
Relatives of Chinese dissidents were set to meet Wednesday with the No. 2 U.S. diplomat as the Obama administration sought to demonstrate it won’t gloss over human rights during this week’s state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But the message was in danger of backfiring after the wife of one prominent dissident, Gao Zhisheng, who says he was tortured with an electric baton during years of solitary confinement, refused the invitation.
“They haven’t talked to us in five years, for all the time we’ve been here, so why should we attend a meeting now?” Geng He told The Associated Press from her home in Cupertino, Calif. Gao himself vows to never leave China despite the hardships and having to live apart from his family.
The United States has warned that the toughest crackdown in years on Chinese activists threatens to cloud the high-profile visit by Xi, who arrives in Washington on Thursday and will meet with President Barack Obama.
Yet the issue of human rights is unlikely to dominate the agenda at their Oval Office meeting Friday, which is followed by a state dinner.
As China emerges as an economic and military rival that Washington both competes and cooperates with, other issues tend to get top billing at the summit table. Prime U.S. concerns are cybercrime, China’s island-building in the disputed South China Sea and building momentum for a global deal to combat climate change. [FULL STORY]