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Cotton Statement on the Upcoming State Dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping

September 22, 2015

Washington, D.C.- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today made the following statement on the upcoming state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping:

"Judging from the White House invitation list for Pope Francis's visit, it's clear that President Obama plans to challenge his honored guest with activists who openly dispute Catholic beliefs and teachings. President Obama should apply this newfound diplomatic protocol evenhandedly, and do so this very week at the state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping. There are a number of figures whom the White House could invite at the last minute who would guarantee a spirited challenge to President Xi's deplorable record on human rights, freedom of speech and religion, and the rule of law. Here are a few guest list suggestions:

  • Teng Biao: Mr. Teng is a human rights lawyer based in New York who has counseled Chinese residents in a variety of cases, from the plight of human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng to cases defending the religious rights of practictioners of Falun Gong. Mr. Teng's conversation with President Xi would no doubt be compelling, as he would speak on behalf of the over 200 human rights lawyers who have been targeted in a wide-ranging campaign of abductions, arrests, and disappearances in China this summer.
  • Wei Jingsheng:  Referred to by some as the "Father of Chinese Democracy," Mr. Wei has been an outspoken critic of Beijing's autocratic political control and human rights abuses for nearly four decades. Mr. Wei spent a total of 18 years as a political prisoner in China before being exiled to the United States. Mr. Wei would certainly offer President Xi a different perspective on Xi's steady attempts to consolidate power in China and to crackdown on voices of dissent.
  • Tsering Kyi: Tsering Kyi is a journalist and former Miss Tibet who went into exile from Tibet in 1999. Her nephew, Tsering Tashi, self-immolated in Tibet in 2013 to protest Chinese governmental oppression. Tsering Kyi's presence at the state dinner would certainly challenge President Xi's notions of religious liberty and the preservation of cultural and linguistic heritage through genuine autonomy."