BBG critic Congressman Chris Smith named chair of commission on China

Congressman Chris SmithCongressman Chris Smith, a champion of human rights and a strong opponent of BBG plans to end Voice of America radio and TV broadcasts to China and other countries without free media, was named chairman of the “Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China.” Congressman Smith is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which unanimously voted to keep funding for VOA Chinese broadcasts.

In 2010 Congressman Smith successfully led an effort to nominate Liu Xiaobo for the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Chinese government refused to allow Liu to attend the ceremony, Smith and then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi represented the U.S. at the presentation ceremony.

Smith chaired a comprehensive November 2009 hearing called “Thirty Years of the One-Child Policy” which detailed human rights violations including forced sterilizations, forced abortions and “gendercide” bias against girls resulting in alarming gender imbalance seen in many areas of China today.

Computers in Smith’s office and that of another congressman active in human rights in China were hacked in 2006 and 2007, with strong indications that the hackers were based in China (AP article of incident). The Broadcasting Board of Governors accepted its executive staff’s recommendation that all VOA news in Chinese be delivered by Internet only despite the fact that China blocks Western news websites in Chinese.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China was created by Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress (2010 report). The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President. The commission maintains a list of known Chinese political and religious prisoners.

“Strong U.S. leadership is required to advance human rights in China, not only for the sake of those suffering from violent human rights abuses, but for our own sake as well,” said Smith, who was critical of President Obama’s warm welcome of Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier this year in Washington. “The interests of the U.S. depend on a future China that protects its citizens’ rights and freedoms. We have seen a bold emergence of China into African affairs, particularly in Sudan. The U.S. should speak out when necessary.”

Link to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs news on Congressman Smith’s nomination.

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