lawyers from meeting a pair of visiting U.S. congressmen. As Stephanie Ho
reports, the congressmen presented a list of more than 700 Chinese political
prisoners on whom they want information.
Congressman Chris Smith is the ranking
(Republican) member of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China,
which was set up in 2000, after then-President Bill Clinton permanently renewed
Most Favored Nation trade status for China. Smith is an outspoken critic of
China, what he had to say to reporters in Beijing, Tuesday, was no
"Tragically, the Olympics has triggered a massive crackdown
designed to silence and put beyond reach all those whose views differ from the
official 'harmonious' government line," he said.
As an example, Smith
said Chinese authorities thwarted one of the goals for his three-day
"On Sunday night, three human rights lawyers with whom we had
scheduled to have dinner, were threatened, then taken away or placed under house
arrest by the police," said Smith.
Two of the Chinese dissidents who
could not meet the American legislators were lawyers Li Baiguang and Li Heping.
The two Chinese activists had met President George Bush in the White House,
earlier this month, after receiving awards from the U.S. National Endowment for
The third was lawyer Teng Biao, who Smith says still had four
police guards outside his house as of Monday.
Congressman Frank Wolf, a
member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, accompanied his colleague to
Beijing. He says they presented a list of 734 Chinese political-prisoner cases
to Li Zhaoxing, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's
"No list of Chinese political prisoners is ever likely to be
complete, but I think this is the most extensive and most complete list around,"
When asked about the lawmakers' comments, foreign ministry
spokesman Liu Jianchao said they were in Beijing at the invitation of the U.S.
Liu says he is not aware of the political prisoner list
presented by the two U.S. congressmen. But he says, if they did indeed submit
such a list, that is not consistent with the official purpose of their
The American lawmakers spoke to reporters in Beijing, one day
after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with China's top leaders. She
raised human rights issues in her meetings, but stressed friendship rather than