Sat, Feb 10, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Powell and UN rights chief discuss censuring of China


As the administration of George W. Bush debates whether to renew its condemnation of China's human rights record, Secretary of State Colin Powell met Thursday with Mary Robinson, the UN high commissioner for human rights.

Robinson has voiced concerns about China's violations of political and religious expression, particularly its treatment of members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has yet to decide how it will vote next month on the annual UN resolution condemning China's human rights practices.

Powell told Robinson during the get-acquainted meeting that he and Bush believe in "upholding standards of human rights" and maintaining "the policies that demonstrate American concern for human rights," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

As for China, Powell reviewed his meeting last month with the Chinese ambassador. He discussed the "overall relationship" between the nations but "also made clear that we would continue to press human rights concerns," Boucher said.

So far, the Bush administration has avoided an all-out condemnation of China's record on human rights as it seeks an active trading partnership with the nation. But the administration must drop such caution when it weighs in March 19 before the UN Human Rights Commission in Switzerland.

The US traditionally backs the resolution condemning China, but Powell said the administration has not decided how it will vote this year.

"We'll make a judgment as to whether we will or will not support [a resolution] in due course," he said last weekend.

"But I think you will find that whatever we do or not do in Geneva will be consistent with the principles of human rights and our support for human rights through the world," Powell added.

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