Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing on "Rule by Fear: 30 Years After Tiananmen", with witness testimony from Xiao Qiang, founder and editor-in-chief of the China Digital Times, Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, and Christopher Walker, vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy.
Chairman Risch gave the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery:
"Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here to commemorate the 30 th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and to honor all those brave citizens of China who believed in a freer future for their country. Please join me in a brief moment of silence for them, including those who lost their lives.
"In June 1989, the photo of a lone Chinese citizen standing down a column of People’s Liberation Army tanks in Tiananmen Square was the snapshot seen round the world of the Chinese people’s suffering. The Chinese government’s modes of repression today are perhaps more difficult to capture in a single image, but are nevertheless omnipresent, pernicious, and increasingly brazen. Everyday is Tiananmen Square, but we don’t see the photos because it is done surreptitiously. Though perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party for decades, human rights abuses have intensified under President Xi Jinping.
"As we sit here today, there are between 1 and 2 million Muslims locked up by Chinese authorities in internment camps, where they face political indoctrination, isolation, abuse, and death. For every person in the camps, dozens more wonder what has happened to their loved ones.
"In general, freedom of religion is extinct in China. The Chinese Communist Party is bent on interfering in the selection of the next Dalai Lama. It has shut down churches and detained Christian pastors. And the Chinese government is working on crafting so-called “correct” interpretations of the Bible. All of this is part of explicit government policies aimed at stripping religious organizations of their independence, and forcing them to align with the CCP.
"Those who bear the greatest brunt of CCP’s disrespect for the rule of law are those who stand up to defend it. In the four years after the CCP’s July 2015 crackdown, numerous human rights lawyers and other advocates have received multi-year sentences. Those not in prison face restrictions on their freedom of movement, and other forms of harassment and intimidation.
"Alongside these seismic abuses of power, we should not forget the injustices faced by all Chinese citizens each day. It’s every censored Internet search or text message. It’s the inability to buy a plane ticket because of a low “social credit score.” It’s every facial scan.
"These examples demonstrate technology’s role as an accelerant in the CCP’s repression today. The Chinese government and Chinese companies are pioneering an intrusive mass surveillance system. This is a serious challenge that we will pay particular attention to in this hearing and in the Committee’s work on China.
"Another challenge is the spread of Chinese human rights policies outside of the Mainland. Chinese companies are exporting technology to regimes with poor human rights records and training authoritarian governments in information management and new media. China is seeking to redefine human rights norms at the United Nations. And it is exploiting the openness of advanced democracies to chill freedom of expression, particularly discussion about China itself.
"This is rule by fear. This is a regime that believes it bestows rights to its people, and can take them away just as quickly as it bestows them. A regime that has appointed itself the judge of Chinese culture and identity – even though the birth of China predates CCP rule by about 5,000 years. And a regime that inserts the state into the facets of life that best promote human flourishing – faith, family, and civic engagement.
"The United States should make the defense of intrinsic values like fundamental freedoms and human rights a more central part of our approach to China. That we stand for freedom and human rights as well as prosperity is an advantage that we should not shy away from.
"I thank everyone for their interest in this topic and how we can stand up for the Chinese people, as well as protect our own societies.
"With that, I turn it over to Senator Menendez for his opening remarks."
Witness testimony is available on foreign.senate.gov, as is an archived recording of the full hearing.