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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Christopher Warns China on Rights

PARIS -- Secretary of State Warren Christopher has warned the Chinese that they are far from complying with President Clinton's minimal human rights standards, but both sides suggested that a series of meetings constituted signs of progress on the issue.


Christopher was in Paris to press Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen on human rights just months before Clinton must decide whether to recommend renewal of China's most favored nation trade status, which Clinton has said hinges on improvements in Beijing's human rights performance.


China on Monday made overtures to discuss the issue. Qian invited Christopher to visit China in March, and Christopher said he looks forward to making the trip "at an opportune time."


Qian also invited other U.S. officials to China for discussions on human rights, and both sides pledged to hold more lower-level meetings, which represent a "work in progress," a senior Clinton administration official said, strengthening the U.S.-Chinese relationship.


Qian did not announce the release of any dissidents, promise to allow foreign news broadcasts into China or pledge to improve conditions in Chinese prisons, all of which are among the requirements set by Clinton for a further extension of China's preferred trade.


In fact, before meeting with Christopher, Qian restated China's view that "we don't believe that the question of human rights should be linked with the question of trade." He stuck to that position in the meeting, participants said.


Qian did promise that Chinese officials would begin this week reviewing a U.S.-compiled list of political prisoners. "That by itself is a positive step and an indication of the seriousness" of China's intention to listen to U.S. human rights concerns, a senior State Department official said.


However, the thorny issue of human rights came to the fore again Tuesday with the sentencing, back in China, of a veteran Chinese dissident.


Qin Yongmin was sentenced to two years in a "reeducation through labor" prison camp for advocating progress toward a democratic society, his wife said.


Qin was arrested in November after he and eight others released a "Peace Charter" calling on Beijing's Communist rulers to allow a national dialogue on political change. The dissident, in his numerous campaigns, has constantly tried to inject an embarrassing note into the Sino-U.S. dialogue.