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What’s happening to human rights?- Grieboski on Pelosi’s trip to China

Joseph Grieboski, President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Joseph Grieboski, President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy

My friend Joseph Grieboski, Founder and President of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, commented today on Nancy Pelosi’s trip to China. He notes:

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is visiting China on what is touted as a tour to improve US-China relations on climate change issues.

A fierce and frequent critic of China’s human rights conditions, the Speaker has chosen to follow in the footsteps of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and take a position of “engagement” rather than “criticism” on Chinese human rights.

Once again, I must remind my colleagues who serve in government that “engagement” and “criticism” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, real engagement means open dialogue and communications on all issues and in all areas. For real “engagement” to be successful, it must be critical engagement, a process of open communication and cooperation.

By not speaking outright about human rights in China – she made oblique references to justice and transparency but never outright mentioned human rights concerns – the Speaker has allowed China to once again get away with murder, literally.

The longer we remain quiet and “soft” on human rights in China, the more the situation deteriorates for common Chinese citizens who deserve far better.

Where is the concept of multilateral engagement on human rights in China? The Bonn Process simply isn’t an effective mechanism for keeping China’s feet to the fire.

Let’s hope that State will have a human rights assistant secretary and religious freedom ambassador sooner rather than later so that these issues will once again get the attention and resources they require.

I agree. I am troubled that Pelosi is following Clinton’s lead on this. We are clearly sending the wrong signal about human rights. And I worry if this continues, it will be very hard to walk it back. (By the way, Joe Grieboski would be an outstanding religious freedom ambassador.)

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  • David Savio says:

    A proud and respecting former student of Dr. Arend who was inspired since high school by the pioneering China mission of Jesuit Matteo Ricci, I can speak towards religious freedom in China. I have been living in China continously since graduating from Gergetown’s bicentennial class (we celebrate our 20th Reunion this weekend!). In the early post-Tinanmen days of 1989 I recall attending the underground church in Beijing with some paranoia. I have since married a Chinese woman who was baptized in Canton, and we have four children who have grown up attending mass weekly in China, witness to the growing congregation and interest in Christianity that has evolved over the past 2 decades (my sons are regular altar-boys in the Chinese-language services in Shanghai’s Catholic Cathedral). I believe things in China are (slowly, but) surely moving in the right direction, both in terms of hman rights and religious freedom.

  • Anthony Clark Arend says:


    It is great to hear from you and to hear your comments. I get news of you from Mark Gammons from time to time. Thanks so much for your observations. It is great to hear that message from someone who has been living in China for some time.

    All the very best!


  • I’m a Western Falun Gong practitioner, and the human rights record in China is atrotious. Falun Gong tai chi practice has been banned and even persecuted with 3000 dead and many more in labour camps in China today. There’s so many Falun Gong aherents everywhere in the world including the United States.
    You can check out my blog for music to highlight this issue and find out more, it may be of interest. The blog is banned in China which comes as no suprise. The Great Firewall of China they call it!..

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Welcome! Who am I?

Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.