06/08/2013, 00.00
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Appeal to Obama and Xi for 16 Chinese prisoners

For activists it is time to refocus diplomacy on human rights and not trade. The activists’ list of those prisoners to release include Gekui Chen, Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng, as well as Tibetans, Uighurs, dissidents and a Protestant pastor. In all likelihood the meeting between the two presidents will speak mainly of the conflict in the Pacific, North Korea, and cyber syping.

Washington (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The relatives of a group of prisoners in China are asking President Barack Obama to press Xi Jinping to release 16 prisoners. They demand that human rights take priority in the dialogue between the two presidents.

Xi Jinping arrived yesterday evening in California where he will meet with Obama in a secluded ranch, away from the crowds, to speak "in his shirt sleeves," in short, informally, of collaboration between China and the United States and build a relationship of trust between the two.

"This summit is not only about personal friendship building. It's a summit between the presidents of two countries and they should have a purpose to build a more just society," says Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who fled last year to the United States after years of persecution by the regime. "Obama - he added - should stop the trade-centred diplomacy and instead make it a human rights-centred diplomacy."

On the occasion of the coming of Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S., the first as president of China, activists and human rights organizations have drawn up a list of 16 prisoners and launched a number of initiatives titled "China 16" to demand their release.

Among the 16 are Chen Guangcheng's nephew, Chen Gekui, jailed and beaten by the authorities of Shandong for revenge against the escape of his uncle, the Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng, disbarred and in solitary confinement for defending Christians, Uighurs and members of Falun Gong, the Nobel Prize for Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years for writing the democracy document Charter 08: Peng Ming, a reformist abducted by Chinese police while he was in Thailand to prepare a place of refuge for dissidents fugitives.

The list also includes other dissidents (Guo Quan, Liu Xianbin, Wang Bingzhang, Yang Tianshui, Zhu Yufu and Li Chang), two Tibetans (the monks Tenzin Delek and Lobsang Tsering), two Uighurs (Gulmira Imin and Alimujiang Yimiti), the underground Protestant pastor Yang Rongli.

According to several analysts, human rights will not be an important issue in talks between the two presidents. From the first statements yesterday, it is clear that they will address various "areas of tension." Obama cited the competition between the U.S. and China on the control of maritime routes in the Pacific, North Korea and cyber-spying.

Last month, some U.S. media revealed that some Chinese hackers were able to steal U.S. projects of sophisticated weapons. Washington has several times accused Beijing of cyber-spying. China, for its part denies any responsibility and in turn said he was often the victim of cyber-attacks from the United States.


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