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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

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.

Civil society controlled

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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Words from Trump could mean a lot

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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U.S. President Donald Trump Calls On California For Challenging Border Wall Declaration

"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. "He knows there is no border crisis. He knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court."

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President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump targeted the western U.S. state of California Tuesday for its leading role in a multi-state lawsuit contesting his declaration of a national emergency to obtain funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Twitter, Trump cited California Governor Gavin Newsome’s cancellation last week of a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, claiming, without evidence, the cancellation was due to “world record setting” cost overruns.

Trump followed with another tweet after 16 states sued his administration over his declaration of a national emergency to get funds to build a border wall. Attorneys general, led by California, filed their lawsuit late Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The complaint alleges the emergency declaration is illegal and unconstitutional, and that it harms the states and their residents by taking money away from anti-drug programs, military construction projects and other law enforcement efforts.

FILE - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (R), accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, announce their intent to sue the Trump administration over an emergency declaration to fund a border wall, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, California.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (R), accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, announce their intent to sue the Trump administration over an emergency declaration to fund a border wall, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, California. VOA
 

The lawsuit asks the court to permanently prohibit the Trump administration from diverting funds from elsewhere in the government to construct a border wall, or to build a wall without Congress appropriating money for that purpose.

“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “He knows there is no border crisis. He knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”

Becerra accused Trump of engaging in “theater” and hyping a crisis because he failed to get Congress or Mexico to pay for the wall.

An environmental group and three Texas landowners across whose property the wall would be built have already filed lawsuits.

The White House has not yet responded to the states’ lawsuit. But it had anticipated court challenges to the emergency declaration.

Trump said he declared the national emergency because he was unhappy with the amount of money Congress authorized for border security.

“I want to do it faster,” he said when he announced his declaration last week. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster” — words that could come back to haunt the administration in court.

Journalist Bob Woodward, who chronicled the first year of the Trump presidency in his best-selling book “Fear,” told Fox News he believes Trump made the national emergency declaration because “he looks strong. He looks tough to lots of people.”

FILE - A new barrier is built along the Texas-Mexico border near downtown El Paso, Jan. 22, 2019.
A new barrier is built along the Texas-Mexico border near downtown El Paso, Jan. 22, 2019. VOA
 

Trump centered much of his 2016 presidential campaign on a vow to build the wall and make Mexico pay for it. After he was elected, he said he never meant that Mexico would write a check for a wall, but that the money would come from the benefits from a new North American trade deal.

Also Read: Bernie Sanders Joins 2020 Presidential Election’s Marathon

Mexican leaders have said under no circumstances would they pay for a border wall. Trump has since shifted the focus on winning congressional funding. (VOA)