Meadows, Cruz push for release of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo
Mark Barrett , mbarrett@citizen-times.
Eleventh District U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Buncombe, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are trying to have the area in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington named for a prominent Chinese dissident.
The two on Thursday introduced bills in their respective chambers that would name the space Liu Xiaobo Plaza after the literary critic, professor and human rights activist who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Liu was an adviser to participants in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and released a document in 2008 calling for more political freedom in China that was signed by academics and others. The same year, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and remains there today. His wife is under house arrest.
The renaming would be a way to remind China of concern over Liu's fate and the state of human rights in the country. In 1984, the U.S. named a section of street in front of the then-Soviet Embassy for Andrei Sakharov, also a Peace Prize winner, as a way of bringing attention to the dissident's internal exile.
Cruz introduced a bill calling for a Liu Xiaobo Plaza in 2016 and it passed the Senate unanimously that February. In the House, it remained stuck in the Oversight Committee, where Meadows is a subcommittee chairman, and never made it to the House floor.
Officials in the administration of President Barack Obama said at the time that Obama would veto the bill if it reached him because it would actually harm U.S. efforts to pressure China to improve its human rights record. China opposed the legislation then and a spokesman called it a "political farce." The position of the Trump administration on the idea is unknown.
In a prepared statement, Cruz said: "Bold diplomacy works, and I urge my colleagues in both the House and the Senate, as well as the administration to make Dr. Liu and his brave fellow dissidents' plight central to all our dealings with the" People's Republic of China.
Meadows said the bill would "both recognize the work of Dr. Liu Xiaobo and send a clear message regarding the United States' position on basic human rights in the world. Dr. Liu's life is a symbol of the power of political freedom and justice, and I firmly believe the Chinese people both desire to and are capable of moving forward toward that end."