Sat, Feb 11, 2012 - Page 1 News List

China jails veteran dissident just days before Xi’s US trip

Reuters and AFP, Beijing and Washington

A Chinese court yesterday sentenced a veteran dissident to seven years in jail, his son said, in the latest blow to challengers of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rule.

This came just a day after US Vice President Joe Biden called for China to address a “deterioration” of its human rights record as he met activists ahead of a key visit by his Chinese counterpart.

Biden — the host for next week’s visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is widely tipped to be China’s next president — met on Wednesday with four advocates for human rights.

In the meeting, Biden and the activists “discussed the deterioration of China’s human rights situation, prospects for reform and recommendations for US policy,” a White House statement said.

“The vice president underscored the administration’s belief in the universality of human rights and its commitment to human rights as a fundamental part of our foreign policy,” it said.

“He reiterated his view that greater openness and protection of universal rights is the best way to promote innovation, prosperity and stability in all countries, including China,” it said.

The White House said Biden met Li Xiaorong (李曉蓉), a founding member of the group Human Rights in China; Benjamin Liebman, a Columbia University expert on China’s legal system; Zha Jianying, an expert on Chinese media and pop culture, and Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

In China, Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) was jailed for “inciting subversion of state power” by a court in Hangzhou, a city in eastern China, after a trial hearing on Jan. 31 when prosecutors cited a poem and messages he sent on the Internet, his son Zhu Ang (朱昂) said by telephone.

“The court verdict said this was a serious crime that deserved stern punishment,” said Zhu Ang, 31, who was allowed to attend the hearing with his mother.

“Now my mother is terribly upset, even if we saw this coming,” Zhu Ang said.

He said the verdict cited his father’s online calls for mobilization in the name of democracy.

“Basically, the only chance that my father had to say anything was when he was being taken out after the hearing, and he stopped and said: ‘I want to appeal.’”

Xi, who is nearly certain to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as CCP leader later this year and as state president early next year, leaves for Washington on Monday.

Xi is likely to face US criticism over China’s clampdown in restive Tibetan areas after a series of self-immolation protests.

At a briefing about Xi’s trip, Chinese Vice Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai (崔天凱) indicated his government would not welcome being publicly criticized by the administration of US President Barack Obama over rights.

“The problem now is that internationally there are some people who always grab hold of the human-rights banner when they want to speak ill of China,” Cui said. “I think that this is abusing the notion of human rights.”

The sentencing of Zhu, who turns 59 this month, followed the jailing of two other Chinese dissidents in December on subversion charges.

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