Posted on VOA, Friday 9th December, 2016
President-elect Trump announced the nomination of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next U.S. ambassador to China just hours before the hearing began Wednesday.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing welcomed the appointment of Branstad, described as ‘an old friend of China.’
‘I do not think he’s going to give up on human-rights goals,’ he told VOA. ‘A trend in the United States is to focus on human rights and to balance trade, which are very important goals. He will make them his mission.’
Activists who testified
Chinese dissidents and rights activists including Yang Jianli, Wei Jingsheng, Chen Guangcheng, Fu Xiqiu, and Rebiya Kadeer testified at Wednesday’s hearing by the CECC, along with multiple Falun Gong practitioners and Wang Xiaoan, daughter of Chinese political prisoner Wang Zhiwen.
Penpa Tsering, former speaker of the Tibetan parliament in exile and the current representative of the Dalai Lama at the Washington-based Office of Tibet, also addressed the hearing.
Tsering called on the incoming administration to implement the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, which would direct the State Department to establish and fill a senior-level post of Special Coordinator for Tibet.
Commission created in 2000
After the hearing, lawmakers joined with those who had testified for a group photo with a large image of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in the background. Liu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for advocating democracy in China.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by Congress in October 2000 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.
Members of the commission include up to nine members of the House of Representatives and nine senators from both parties, along with five senior officials representing the Departments of State, Labor and Commerce.