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Chinese Rights Activists Speak up on Trump-Xi Summit

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Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, pose in this undated photo released by his family. VOA Source : Reuters
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April 10, 2017: As U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met Friday at Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, human rights activist said they hoped the leaders would discuss human rights.

Hu Jia and Wang Qiaoling, wife of detained human rights lawyer Li Heping, told VOA they were concerned about two specific human rights cases in China: a wave of arrests July 9, 2015, known as the 709 Incident that targeted three groups connected to rights advocacy, and house church persecution.

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They sought the release of prisoners of conscience including Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for advocating democracy in China, and Ilham Tohti, an advocate for China’s Uighur minority who is serving a life sentence after a Chinese court convicted him of separatism in 2014.

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Xi’s administration has tightened control over almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing the need to buttress national security and stability. The detention and prosecution of lawyers and activists have caused an international outcry, criticism that China consistently rejects, saying it adheres to the rule of law. And while media in China covered the U.S.-China summit, no official outlets covered calls by members of Congress for discussions about China’s human rights record while at the lavish estate.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, told the McClatchy News Service before the summit that “it is imperative that the president raises the plight of political prisoners and human rights activists by name” adding that presidential pressure “often results in improved conditions and shorter sentences” for those facing persecution.

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Rep. Chris Smith is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, co-chairman and the highest-ranking House member of both the bipartisan House/Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the bipartisan House/Senate/White House Congressional-Executive Commission on China on which Rubio also serves.

Smith recently told VOA “the president has to bring up, in a robust way, a way that was not done in the Obama administration, issues of human rights abuse which, sadly, Xi Jinping is in a race to the bottom with North Korea on subjecting its own citizens to torture, its women to forced abortion, and a whole list of gross human rights abuses.

“The government of China says: Respect us!’ Sure, we’ll do that,” Smith said, adding “Please respect your own people first.”

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Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought recipient Hu Jia told VOA Friday he hoped Trump spoke with Xi about Ilham, the attorneys detained since the 709 Incident, Liu Xiaobo “and his wife Liu Xia, who is also affected, and the prevalent persecution of Christian house church, an issue that aligns with Republicans’ values.”

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Wang Qiaoling, the wife of Li, the human rights lawyer, told VOA that she saw Trump’s decision to send missile strikes to Syria’s air base the U.S. described as linked to the chemical weapons attacks as a sign of potential toughness on China the Chinese government, to be precise. VOA

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Googling ‘idiot’ Bringing up Donald Trump Pictures Drags Google in Trouble

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech

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Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

US Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in an effort to understand how Google search algorithms work, asked its CEO Sundar Pichai why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot”.

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai, according to the Washington Post.

The Google CEO — who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine — said the results were based on billions of keywords ranked according to over 200 factors such as relevance, popularity, how others were using the search term, to determine how to best match a query with results.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

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Why googling ‘idiot’ brings up Trump photos, Congresswoman asks Pichai. VOA

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “rigged” against him so “almost all stories and news was bad.”

House Republicans said they wanted to hold the hearing — entitled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” — to make sure the search giant was being impartial.

“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honour freedom of speech and champion open dialogue,” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said in a statement before the hearing.

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech.

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In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.” (IANS)