April 10, 2014

Senate Passes Cardin, Rubio, Menendez, Corker Resolution Urging Greater Freedom of Press in China

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Subcommittee Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) lauded passage of their Senate Resolution (S. Res. 361) that urges the People’s Republic of China to take meaningful steps to improve freedom of expression in China as fitting of a responsible international stakeholder.

 

The bipartisan resolution (1) reaffirms the importance of freedom of the press to efforts to support democracy, mitigate conflict, and promote good governance domestically and around the world; (2) expresses concern about the threats to freedom of the press and expression in the People’s Republic of China; (3) condemns actions taken by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to suppress freedom of the press, including the increased harassment of Chinese and international journalists through denial of visas, harassment of sources, physical threats, and other methods; and (4) urges the President to use all appropriate instruments of United States influence to support, promote, and strengthen principles, practices, and values that promote the free flow of information to the people of China without interference or discrimination, including through the Internet and other electronic media.

 

“As we look to rebalance our policy toward the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has a responsibility to promote respect for universal human rights. We urge the President to use all appropriate tools to improve and promote freedom of the press in China. We urge China to abide by internationally accepted norms for human rights, including freedom of the press,” said Senator Cardin. “A country that engages in routine censorship and online blocking; harassment, reprisals, and detention of journalists; and visa delays or denials for journalists not only fail its own people, but also fail the international community. The ongoing crackdown on journalists and members of the press reporting in China is troubling.” 

 

“Press freedom is a fundamental human right that exists to protect people from oppressive, corrupt and overreaching governments. Ensuring the free flow of information and opinions must be a key pillar of America’s global human rights agenda. People, societies, economies and entire nations benefit when criticism is encouraged as a means to achieve progress. The Chinese government should not fear the great benefits to be gained from greater political and religious freedoms,” Senator Rubio said.

 

“An open press is the hallmark of a thriving society, but the Chinese people are being denied these freedoms by their own government,” said Senator Menendez. “A great nation embraces opposition and dissent, welcoming honest and critical news reporting. Press freedom is an essential element of good governance, not a hindrance and the Chinese government should take proactive reforms to encourage an open and independent media in China.”

 

“The assault on press freedom in China is a serious problem that demands a forceful U.S. response.  While first and foremost a human rights issue, censorship also has economic consequences for news organizations losing money when their websites are blocked,” said Senator Corker.  “The U.S. should make these concerns a high priority, along with other economic, security and human rights issues, in our regular discussions with Chinese leadership.”

 

Over the past year, China has increased efforts to curb the work of foreign news organizations, including extended delays in processing journalist visas, restrictions on access to “sensitive” locations and individuals, pressure on their local staff, blocked websites, and reports of cyber hacking of media organizations. New York Times reporter Austin Ramzy was forced to leave China on January 30 due to processing delays for his press credentials. On January 30, the White House released a statement expressing deep concern “that foreign journalists in China continue to face restrictions that impede their ability to do their jobs, including extended delays in processing journalist visas, restrictions on travel to certain locations deemed “sensitive” by Chinese authorities and, in some cases, violence at the hands of local authorities.”

 

 

 

 

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