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The public has been told that the Obama administration is avoiding new entanglements in the Middle East as part of its “Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy,” better known as the Asia Pivot. This relative neglect of the Arab world at a decisive moment in its history has already exacted a terrible price, with popular calls for democratic political reform increasingly squelched by tear gas, torture, and air strikes, and warped by desperation and cynical sectarian demagoguery. A new U.S. push for democracy and human rights in China might help offset the moral and strategic damage elsewhere, but there was no evidence of such an effort in the recent meeting between the U.S. and Chinese presidents in California.

Authoritarian regimes around the world are banding together to bypass international institutions and human rights norms that conflict with their abusive practices. Unlike the alliances of the Cold War era, these partnerships have few ideological underpinnings other than a shared rejection of democracy and the rule of law. But such cooperation has offered aid and solidarity to dictators under pressure, and created a marketplace through which repressive regimes can meet their technology, security, and energy needs without the headaches of transparency and accountability. And if the seven-year decline in global freedom recorded by Freedom House is any indication, authoritarianism is, sadly, a growth industry.

June 6, 2013 – Freedom House today urged President Obama to emphasize in his upcoming meetings with President Xi Jinping that political reform and an improved human rights environment in China are critical to a strengthening of overall ties between China and the United States.

Freedom House joined key organizations and individuals in urging President Barack Obama to call for the release of 16 Chinese prisoners of conscience during an upcoming summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Senior Research Analyst for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan

Sarah Cook is a Senior Research Analyst for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan at Freedom House.

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Director of Advocacy

Annie Wilcox Boyajian is Director of Advocacy at Freedom House and leads Freedom House’s engagement with the US government and collaboration with American human rights groups.

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