Rubio takes the lead on pressing China to ensure the safety of activist Chen's family

    May 15, 2012

His Excellency Hu Jintao

President of the People’s Republic of China

President Hu,

This letter is to express our deep concerns about the safety and well-being of Mr. Chen Guangcheng, his family and associates. We urge your government to guarantee their security and fully protect their human rights in accordance to China’s international commitments.

In 2005, Mr. Chen drew international attention to abuses in China’s family planning policies of coercive abortions in Linyi city, Shandong province. He has also helped farmers and the disabled seeking redress for their grievances. For his advocacy, Mr. Chen has earned the respect of his fellow citizens and the admiration of the American people. For his legal work, Mr. Chen and his relatives have been the subjects of years of officially-sanctioned harassment, surveillance and physical abuse in their village. Mr. Chen’s persecution grew so severe, that he fled illegal captivity by local authorities in Shandong and sought shelter at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for himself and his relatives.

It is our understanding that Mr. Chen left the U.S. Embassy after Chinese authorities gave him assurances for his safety and promised that he could pursue academic studies in a safe environment. We strongly urge your government to take all necessary measures to cease the harassment of Mr. Chen, his relatives and associates; and to guarantee their safety and security while respecting their right to travel freely within and outside China.

Mr. Chen Guangcheng’s circumstances are emblematic of the plight of thousands of Chinese rights advocates, such as Hu Jia, Teng Biao, Zeng Jinyan, Gao Zhisheng and many others that work tirelessly and under state-directed threats to their safety and their relatives’ towards greater respect for their fellow citizens’ political and economic rights under Chinese law and China’s international obligations. We urge your government to seize this opportunity to end the harassment of rights advocates and embark on a new path towards greater respect for human rights in China.

Relations between our nations have expanded considerably in recent years. However, the Chinese government must make a serious commitment to protect its citizens’ human rights in order to realize the full potential of our deeper relations and China’s economic progress.