GOP lawmaker vows to take up Chinese activist's cause in Senate

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations panel, vowed Monday to introduce a resolution expressing support for Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng if his status hasn't been resolved by the time Congress reconvenes next week.

Chen is widely reported to have sought refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing after escaping from house arrest Friday. The human-rights activist has put the administration in a tight spot just days before this week's visit by Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWoman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Trump: CNN, MSNBC 'got scammed' into covering Russian-organized rally Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map MORE and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for the U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue.

"I cannot think of a more defining moment to push China to embrace a more progressive platform on human rights than by standing with Chen Guangcheng," Graham said in a statement. "Mr. Chen deserves our admiration and respect for his work, at great personal sacrifice, in speaking out against China's continued practice of forced abortions and sterilizations.

"The Obama Administration should work to protect his safety, the safety of his family, and the safety of others associated with him," the senator continued. "His cause should be our cause."

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney over the weekend also called on the White House to "take every measure to ensure that Chen and his family members are protected from further persecution."

"Our future relationship with China should be based on exposing the honest differences between us and not just money and trade," Graham added. "There is no better example of the differences we have than the way the Chinese government treats its citizens, like Mr. Chen, who dissent from government policy.

"The Chinese communist dictatorship has a terrible human rights record," Graham said. "The United States must push the Chinese communist dictatorship toward democratic reform and respect of the basic human rights of its citizens. Mr. Chen's case is a powerful reminder China still has far to go in respecting the freedoms and liberties we in the United States hold dear and sometimes take for granted."