Statement by Chairs on Anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s Death
Welcoming Release of Liu Xia
Press Contact: Scott.Flipse@mail.house.gov
July 12, 2018
(Washington)-Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, Chair and Cochair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (Commission), issued the following statements to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and the release of his wife Liu Xia.
“Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo’s death in state custody,” said Senator Rubio. “His legacy and the vision that he and others set forth in Charter 08 remain unfulfilled for millions of Chinese citizens. Liu Xiaobo dreamed of a ‘future free China’ ruled by law, with full respect for and protection of human rights. His legacy animates the efforts today of China’s rights lawyers and defenders, religious adherents, dissidents and activists, just as it must continue to animate our own efforts in the furtherance of this same pursuit. We welcome the release this week of his widow Liu Xia, after 8 years of unjust and illegal home confinement, and sincerely hope she is able to recover physically and emotionally in the months ahead. The very next day after her release, Chinese authorities sentenced veteran democracy advocacy Qin Yongmin to 13 years in prison on the charge of ‘subversion of state power’-a fresh reminder that the Chinese government and Communist Party are merciless in crushing political dissent.”
“We welcome Liu Xia to a world of freedom she has never known and look forward to her recovery from an unjust and cruel detention. The world owes Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia and so many others, a debt of gratitude as they showed us that the ideas of human rights and democracy are not alien to China, but a rooted part of that country’s long history. We cannot allow the Chinese government to erase Liu Xiaobo’s life and legacy. We must remember and speak out for all those working peacefully for political reform and rights protections; failing to do so allows the perpetrators of repression to act with impunity,” said Representative Smith. “At a time when the Chinese government is using all its power to create a world safe for authoritarianism, the international community must find its voice and acknowledge the chasm that exists between the values of China’s current leaders and those of all freedom loving nations and peoples. In Liu Xiaobo’s honor we must unite to condemn Beijing’s efforts to silence those who carry the torch of freedom in China.”
The Chairs also noted with concern the fate of Liu Xia’s brother, Liu Hui, who remains in China and the thirteen year prison sentence given veteran democracy advocate Qin Yongmin who, along with his wife Zhao Suli, started China Human Rights Watch in 2015. Zhao Suli remains under house arrest.
The Chairs introduced legislation titled the “Preserving Liu Xiaobo Legacy of Freedom & Gold Medal Act” (S. 1955 / H.R. 3960) to commemorate the contribution of Liu Xiaobo and other democracy advocates to global understanding of China and better U.S.-China relations.
The Chairs also repeatedly advocated for Liu Xia’s release, most recently sending a letter to U.S. Ambassador Terry Brandstad urging him to invite Liu Xia to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and to work for her release.
The Commission’s Political Prisoner Database has background information on the detentions of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia as well as records of 1,312 known political and religious prisoners currently in detention. Both Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia were featured prominently in the Commission’s 2017 Annual Report.
The Commission has held a number hearings about the detention of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia as well as hearings to evaluate the future of political reform in China, after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2018, the Chairs also created the Liu Xiaobo Fellowship program, offering paid fellowships to work on human rights and the rule of law in China at the Commission.