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KCRW's To The Point: Getting to Know You - The Obama Administration and China

February 23, 2009

Excerpted from KCRW's To The Point:

Host Warren Olney: Were you disappointed, as we have heard other human rights groups described as being?

Sharon Hom: We were disappointed with both the substance and the strategy of how human rights were raised. [...] The message that clearly was received by the Chinese, the authorities, was that, "human rights have been taken off the table." That could not be the message that was intended, but I think it’s extremely important to note that Xinhua, the official press, has reported it as, "human rights issues have been thrown out of U.S. high-level talks." They characterize Secretary Clinton’s visit as the economy now takes priority over human rights.


Olney: Why do you need to be concerned with human rights when you’re dealing with the economy? I’m asking that as a devil’s advocate question.

Hom: For example, freedom of the press. If the press were writing about the economy, the environment, avian flu, or about SARS - these are all examples where information control and censorship in fact exacerbated the problem, exacerbated the harm and the damage to life. And that’s why it’s extremely important.

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