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House, panel urge White House to promote censure of China

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. House of Representatives and a bipartisan commission have called on the Bush administration to promote a resolution at a United Nations conference insisting China halt its violations of human rights.

The House voted 402-2 for a resolution urging the U.S. representative at the coming U.N. Commission on Human Rights to lead an effort to adopt a measure calling for the communist power to meet the international community’s standards on human rights. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom endorsed the House’s call for the resolution.

“The overwhelming vote by Congress is important because the administration has yet to declare whether it will offer a China resolution at Geneva,” USCIRF Chairman Michael Young said in a written release. “While U.S.-Chinese relations are advancing in other important areas, our dialogue on human rights is stagnant and they have yet to demonstrate a willingness to abide by international human rights norms.”

The House resolution, H.R. 530, also called on the Beijing government to end religious persecution, halt forced abortion and sterilization in all provinces, stop the coerced return of refugees to North Korea and grant religious freedom to all citizens. Among other requests, the House also urged the Chinese government to permit unrestricted visits to the country by the USCIRF and other international groups.

The USCIRF’s plans to send a delegation to China were thwarted twice in the last year by Beijing-invoked limitations on its trip the panel found unacceptable.

The only House members voting against the resolution March 3 were Reps. Ron Paul, R.-Texas, and Jim McDermott, D.-Wash.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights will meet from March 15 to April 23 in Geneva, Switzerland

China is one of the world’s most severe violators of religious freedom and is among six countries designated by the Department of State as “countries of particular concern.” Chinese policy requires churches to register with the government. China’s repressive practices, which have included arrest, imprisonment and torture, have affected not only Protestants but Catholics, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and the Falun Gong sect.

The USCIRF makes reports and policy recommendations to Congress and the White House. The president and congressional leaders appoint the nine members who serve as commissioners.

President Bush appointed Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, to the panel in 2001. Land’s second term, which is one year, will expire in May.

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