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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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Donald Trump Trolled on Twitter after He Says Moon is a Part Of Mars

As soon as Trump tweeted, people from around the world started trolling him with witty one-liners, jokes and memes

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Donald Trump, Trolled, Twitter
Trump's remarks came a day after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told USA Today that US astronauts would not be able to make a lunar landing . VOA

US President Donald Trump has left people astonished with his knowledge of space and the universe and has become a laughing stock yet again after he claimed that the moon is a part of Mars.

In a tweet on Friday, he said: “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defence and Science.”

Trump’s remarks came a day after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told USA Today that US astronauts would not be able to make a lunar landing by 2024 unless Trump administration’s $1.6 billion budget increase request is not approved by the US Congress.

As soon as Trump tweeted, people from around the world started trolling him with witty one-liners, jokes and memes.

Donald Trump, Trolled, Twitter
US President Donald Trump has left people astonished with his knowledge of space . VOA

“Sigh! His dad must have paid his way through astronomy class too!” wrote American long-distance runner Ryan Hill.

“Trump’s knowledge on this matter is one small step for man, one giant leap backwards for mankind,” said Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jeremy Newberger.

“Based on the President’s track record here on Earth, I don’t think NASA needs his input on how to handle space,” tweeted Sam Vinograd, national security analyst at CNN.

Earlier in May, Trump, who is infamous for making controversial statements, war threats and spelling errors on his Twitter handle, confessed that he uses Twitter as a “typewriter”.

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Later, Twitter Co-founder, Ev Williams called Trump “master” of the platform, arguing the potential negative effects of the President’s tweets on the country’s political discourse are “trivial compared to the effect of the broader media”.

Mars has two moons – Phobos and Deimos – however, the Moon which orbits the Earth is not a part of the Red Planet. (IANS)