Washington: US President Barack Obama took up his concerns over the human rights situation in China with visiting Chinese Vice President, Xi Jinping. China has experienced a recent surge in unrest among the Tibetan community. (Agencies)
Even as a red carpet welcome was accorded to the Chinese leader, in line to become the next President, top officials of the Obama Administration told him that the US had concerns over deterioration in human rights situation in certain areas and the "plight of several very prominent individuals".
The issue was brought up by US President Barack Obama and Vice President, Joe Biden, themselves when they held lengthy meetings with Xi, who arrived here on Monday on a five-day visit to the United States.
"As was brought up by the President in his meeting with you and my meeting with you as well, we see our advocacy for human rights as a fundamental aspect of our foreign policy and we believe a key to the prosperity and stability of all societies," Joe Biden said at a lunch hosted for Xi by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
"We have been clear about our concern over the areas in which from our perspective conditions in China have deteriorated and about the plight of several very prominent individuals. And we appreciate your response," Biden said.
Biden's remarks came as a large number of Tibetan American and other pro-democracy advocates of China gathered outside the White House for a second consecutive day to hold protest against the visiting Chinese leader.
Xi, on his part said, acknowledged that there was "room for improvement" but also pointed out that achievements had been made on human rights issues.
"I stressed that China has made tremendous and well-recognised achievements in the field of human rights over the past 30-plus years, since reform and opening up," he said.
"Of course, there is always room for improvement when it comes to human rights," he was quoted as saying.
The White House said the US is not shy about raising human rights issues with China.
"We take human rights issues very seriously. We are not shy about raising those issues in our meetings with members of the Chinese leadership," White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters in response to a question.
"It is part of the relationship that we have that we can talk about the whole range of issues that are on the table between us, and human rights is certainly one of them," Carney said. Meanwhile, the chairmen of the bipartisan Congressional- Executive Commission on China today called on the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to take concrete steps to improve human rights and the rule of law in China.
"Instead of condemning the Dalai Lama, Vice President Xi should recognise that the Dalai Lama remains the best hope for restoring stability to Tibet and guaranteeing the genuine autonomy that is the right of Tibetans," said its Cochairman Sherrod Brown.
"Vice President Xi should end discrimination against Uyghurs, allow them to practice their religion freely, and stop the harassment of Rebiya Kadeer, her family, and other peaceful Uyghur activists," he said.
Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Commission, said: "It is our fervent hope that Vice President Xi can reverse the course of his predecessors and usher in positive changes in China. But we remain extremely concerned, as the run-up to Vice President Xi becoming the next leader of China has been accompanied by one of the worst crackdowns in recent memory".
Washington: US President Barack Obama took up his concerns over the human rights situation in China with visiting Chinese Vice President, Xi Jinping. China has experienced a recent surge in unrest among the Tibetan community.