before the US House of Representatives, June 3, 2009
I rise to
oppose this unnecessary and counter-productive resolution regarding
the 20th anniversary of the incident in China’s Tiananmen Square.
In addition to my concerns over the content of this legislation,
I strongly object to the manner in which it was brought to the floor
for a vote. While the resolution was being debated on the House
floor, I instructed my staff to obtain a copy so that I could read
it before the vote. My staff was told by no less than four relevant
bodies within the House of Representatives that the text was not
available for review and would not be available for another 24 hours.
It is unacceptable for Members of the House of Representatives to
be asked to vote on legislation that is not available for them to
As to the substance
of the resolution, I find it disturbing that the House is going
out of its way to meddle in China’s domestic politics, which
is none of our business, while ignoring the many pressing issues
in our own country that definitely are our business.
resolution “calls on the People’s Republic of China to
invite full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square
crackdown, assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross…”
Where do we get the authority for such a demand? I wonder how the
US government would respond if China demanded that the United Nations
conduct a full and independent investigation into the treatment
of detainees at the US-operated Guantanamo facility?
“calls on the legal authorities of People’s Republic of
China to review immediately the cases of those still imprisoned
for participating in the 1989 protests for compliance with internationally
recognized standards of fairness and due process in judicial proceedings.”
In light of US government’s extraordinary renditions of possibly
hundreds of individuals into numerous secret prisons abroad where
they are held indefinitely without charge or trial, one wonders
what the rest of the world makes of such US demands. It is hard
to exercise credible moral authority in the world when our motto
toward foreign governments seems to be “do as we say, not as
While we certainly
do not condone government suppression of individual rights and liberties
wherever they may occur, why are we not investigating these abuses
closer to home and within our jurisdiction? It seems the House is
not interested in investigating allegations that US government officials
and employees approved and practiced torture against detainees.
Where is the Congressional investigation of the US-operated “secret
prisons” overseas? What about the administration’s assertion
of the right to detain individuals indefinitely without trial? It
may be easier to point out the abuses and shortcomings of governments
overseas than to address government abuses here at home, but we
have the constitutional obligation to exercise our oversight authority
in such matters. I strongly believe that addressing these current
issues would be a better use of our time than once again condemning
China for an event that took place some 20 years ago.
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.