East Turkestan: Bush Urged to Secure Chinese Dissident's Release
More than 100 U.S. congressmen have urged President George W. Bush to help secure the release of a jailed Chinese democracy campaigner when Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Washington next week.
A Chinese court jailed Yang Jianli, president of the Boston-based Foundation for China in the 21st Century, for five years in 2002, accusing him of spying for Taiwan and illegal entry.
"We respectfully ask that you make the case to President Hu that his country would have nothing to lose by releasing Dr Yang at this point," the 119 congressmen said in a letter to Bush made available to reporters on Tuesday, one day after it was sent.
"In fact (China has) much to gain with regard to the positive effect it would have on the bilateral strategic partnership between our two countries," read the letter, signed by Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and Representatives Barney Frank, Tom Lantos, Christopher Smith and Michael Capuano.
Bush raised Yang's case when he met Hu in New York last September. The U.S. embassy in Beijing has raised Yang's case with Chinese officials at least 60 times.
The U.S. Senate and House have unanimously passed resolutions calling for Yang's release and U.S. senators have written to Hu urging him to free him.
Yang, who has doctorates from the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, had lived in the United States for more than a decade but opted not to take U.S. citizenship.
He was recently barred from attending his father's funeral in Jinan, in eastern China. A family member and rights groups said he had been abused by Chinese prison guards and suffered a minor stroke, but requests for medical parole were rejected.
China often releases dissidents ahead of high-level Sino-U.S. exchanges.
Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman from the restive, predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang in China's northwest, was paroled and exiled to the United States in March 2005, days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Beijing.