Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Environment and Public Works committees, and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, released the following statement in response to the inaugural Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China:
“The significant dialogue that the United States started this week with China is a positive step in strengthening the relationship between the United States and China. I am pleased the agenda covered crucial issues such as the global economic crisis, climate change, non-proliferation and regional stability. However, I am disappointed that human rights issues were not given higher priority.
“Negotiations on climate change are particularly significant because any global solution must include the intense collaboration and effort of China and the United States, which together produce more than 40 percent of global carbon emissions. Together, we can help create a framework that will make a positive impact on the harmful effects of climate change by holding all nations to a common standard, yet taking the needs of each country into account.
“Discussing respect for basic human rights, which are fundamental to both a climate change and economic solution, is also essential. To not press China – undeniably one of our chief partners in tackling global problems – on human rights protections is a missed opportunity. It is our responsibility to champion collective values, especially those that are so essential and connected: basic political rights, labor protections, and freedoms of speech and religion.
“The United States must make an unambiguous commitment to human rights – not as a personal belief of any political leader or simply an Administration policy, but as a moral obligation of our country towards international law and universal principles. I will continue to press President Obama and his administration to unabashedly champion the cause of human rights in China, particularly as our countries collaborate to craft joint solutions for the 21st century.”