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Obama's China visit leaves dissidents disappointed

Although US President Barack Obama raised the thorny issue of human rights during his first visit to China this week, he left many political dissidents -- those who were not locked up -- disappointed.

Obama spoke about his belief in "universal rights" during a town hall meeting with Chinese youth in Shanghai on Monday and again Tuesday at a press conference with President Hu Jintao Hu Jintao (h` jĭn`tou`), 1942–, Chinese political leader, b. Jixi, Anhui prov. A hydroelectric engineering graduate (1965) of Qinghua Univ. , but dissidents said it was not enough.

"At first, I had a lot of hope for human rights, for Tibet and for Xinjiang," said female Tibetan writer Woeser, who goes by only one name and is a vocal critic of China's policies in the Himalayan region.

"But President Obama only touched upon these issues, without insisting on anything. Even if he brought them up, he did it without force -- it was very disappointing," she told AFP (1) (AppleTalk Filing Protocol) The file sharing protocol used in an AppleTalk network. In order for non-Apple networks to access data in an AppleShare server, their protocols must translate into the AFP language. See file sharing protocol. .

Outspoken artist Ai Weiwei, who says he was beaten by police in August when he tried to testify at the trial of an activist investigating the collapse of schools in last year's Sichuan earthquake, said Obama could have done more.

"Many Chinese, especially the young, hope for a more open and just society -- this needs the support of foreign leaders," Ai told AFP.

Ai said the US leader should be aware that China's disrespect for the rule of law and human rights and its refusal to allow freedom of expression constitute a "threat" not only to the stability of China, but also the world.

"If he is not aware of this, then his visit will be a failure. Up until now I have not seen any signs of success," Ai said just before Obama left the country.

"I agree with some of the people who see his visit as a big Hollywood show. If he does not make a greater effort, the Chinese will become disappointed with these 'universal values' as well as with the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. ."

Obama did not have any meetings with human rights activists or dissidents scheduled on his trip to Beijing when he met for solemn talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

A White House official travelling with Obama told AFP: "The president raised several dissident cases directly with President Hu on Tuesday."

As always ahead of major political events, Chinese authorities stepped up surveillance of the dissident community during Obama's visit from Sunday to Wednesday, detaining some activists and interrogating others.

"I have been under house arrest and have not paid much attention to this visit," Zeng Jinyan Zeng Jinyan (Chinese: 曾金燕; born October 9, 1983), is a Chinese blogger and human rights activist. The wife of AIDS and environmental activist Hu Jia, Zeng became famous for a blog she had maintained throughout the disappearance of her husband, which was , wife of jailed rights activist Hu Jia
For the activist, see Hu Jia (activist)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Hu.

Hu Jia (Simplified Chinese: 胡佳 
, told AFP in an email.

When reached minutes before by telephone, Zeng had quickly hung up -- she said in the email that it was due to the police presence.

The Tibetan writer Woeser said that several police were also keeping an eye on her movements from the doorway of her Beijing apartment building.

According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy is a human rights organization based in Hong Kong that provides information human rights abuses in mainland China for news outlets. It is run single-handedly by Frank Lu Siqing. , more than 30 rights activists were either detained or under house arrest during the Obama visit.

Ai lamented the lack of reaction from Obama.

"You come to China and a lot of people are arrested due to your visit -- this is an issue that you cannot ignore," the artist said.

"You cannot say that you will talk about this next year or in two years because during this time these people will be sent to jail."

Rights lawyer Li Fangping, who was also under police surveillance and had a police escort while doing daily errands, was less critical.

"Of course I had expectations, but these issues are tied to the economic situation," Li said by telephone.

"He spoke of universal rights in Shanghai and Beijing, which could be seen as a way to promote these ideas."

Ahead of the visit, rights groups and dissidents had feared that Obama would sacrifice calls for improvements in China's rights record to make progress on major issues like climate change and the economic crisis.

They also regretted that China did not release any prominent dissidents from jail during the visit, which has been done previously as a gesture of goodwill ahead of trips by US leaders.
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Publication:AFP American Edition
Date:Nov 19, 2009
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